12 Hours In Niigata City: Fine Views, Castle Ruins, Architecture, Statues, Football, Local Sweets & Friends Reunited!!

When I started to plan this trip to Niigata I was expecting to stay in the city centre but the high prices of hotels there meant that I had to look further afield. It was a blessing in disguise really as that meant I got to experience some wonderful and more remote places in the prefecture which I perhaps wouldn’t have seen had I been based in the city.

It did feel a bit odd though to not enter the city centre until mid-morning on my third and final day. Just before my arrival at Niigata station, there was a final pit-stop to see this quirky-looking building which is a sight for saur eyes!

This dog statue inside Niigata station was certainly not as grand in terms of its size but the story behind it is impressive. It was a hunting dog who helped save his master from an avalanche during the Showa Period. Not just once but twice! Think of dog statues at stations and many people will instantly think of Hachiko in Shibuya but this one, located at the south exit, doesn’t seem to be used as a meeting point.

There was only one thing I planned to do near the station and that was about a 20 minute walk north towards the Shianano River. The Befco Bakauke Observation Deck is located on the 31st floor of the Toki Messe Convention Center building which looms large in the background of an “I love Niigata” sign.

The observation deck was a free spectacle, and the panoramic views and city vistas looked very fine as it was a clear day.


The white construction seen just beyond the river was to be my final destination later in the evening. Keep reading to find out what it was!

A week or two before my trip, I had arranged to meet my friend Hamish at Shibata (on the Hakushin Line which runs to Niigata) when the mission to visit all four stations with a Platform 0 in Niigata was not even on my mind. It was a slice of luck that the fourth and final platform 0 was there so was I was able to kill two birds with one stone.

It had been about five years since I last saw Hamish and the first place he took me to was the remains of Shibata castle. It is one of the smaller castles in Japan and is free to the public but history has taught me that many of these Japanese castles are a bit same-same inside so we didn’t bother entering.


I thought the next building, with its cool arhcitecture, was a church at the time but it is actually a museum called the Fukiya Koji Memorial Hall which is dedicated to a local artist.


Denka Big Swan Stadium was what my trip was built around in a way, and seeing a match there pretty much brought the curtain down on my mini-break to Niigata. The 42,300 all-seater stadium was used in the 2002 FIFA World Cup so was a place I had long wanted to visit. More details here.


Back at Niigata station, there was just enough time to sample a local delicacy by way of  sasandango which is a dark green flavoured dessert filled with sweet red bean paste and wrapped by bamboo leaves. Japanese sweets are indeed very different to those in much of the western world. Of course they’re healthier, and they taste ok but really don’t excite me enough to have them regularly.

My time in Niigata began with the sake vending machines at Echigo-Yuzawa station and ended with a couple of alcoholic drinks on the Shinkansen south to Omiya (Saitama). I wouldn’t usually see fit to mention the latter but as I write this seven months on I still haven’t had any alcohol since then! Maybe it’s time to leave Tokyo again and get back on the alcohol!

Click here to read ‘Watching Football In Niigata At The Stadium Used In The 2002 FIFA World Cup’

Click here to ‘This Quirky-Looking Building Is A Sight For Saur Eyes!!’

Click here to read ‘#WeStopAtNothing! Visiting All The Platform Zero Stations In Niigata’

Click here to read ‘Cheap Alcohol Vending Machines Aplenty Inside A Train Station!’

About tokyofox

A Leicester City fan teaching English in Japan
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