Little M

Lunch at Sensaiya Benicho

Manma & Cafe Yukimatsuri, Tokamachi

Menya Shagara

Yes, it’s upside down by choice Chashumen Tsukemen Yes, it’s upside down by choice Why on earth is the awning of that ramen restaurant upside-down? “For impact,” my waitress tells me. “It gets people to come inside.” The awning is what got my attention, but it was word of mouth from three friends that brought […]

Minamiuonuma Majidon Project

A meaty offering at Kukai Bistro, Minamiuonuma The Mexican-style chicken served over saffron koshihikari rice at Family Dining Kodamaya, across from Urasa Station Koshihikari rice is grown everywhere in this region of Japan A meaty offering at Kukai Bistro, Minamiuonuma (Photo: Kim B) Minamiuonuma is an area in rural Niigata often referred to as yukiguni […]


My beef and sashimi set meal My hosts’ salmon and sashimi set My dining room Nothing but private rooms here Minatoya Minatoya My beef and sashimi set meal One of the families I teach English to was gracious enough to invite me to dinner at a Japanese restaurant called, “Minatoya.” I was never presented with […]

Mitsumata Road Station

Looking into the souvenir shop and cafes in the rear Inside foot onsen The information area with live weather and traffic conditions Local art and sake A table in the middle of the pond A male snowman sign for the men's toilet Japanese Road Stations have to fulfill various criteria to earn their designation. The […]

Mujinzou Ramen in Muikamachi

Autumn special mushroom ramen The exterior proudly boasting of their noodles A cosy interior Autumn special mushroom ramen Some restaurants you drop into once out of curiosity, others become regular haunts. Mujinzou Ramen Restaurant is definitely one of the latter and is the “go-to” restaurant if you want a great bowl of noodles in this […]

Muran Gozzo Cafe in Yuzawa

Fresh, seasonal salad Muran Gozzo Cafe The shop front will lure you in Fresh, seasonal salad Echigo Yuzawa Station had a bit of a facelift recently and they have extended the concourse back into the station building. The sake tasting hall has been moved to the front of the shopping center and several restaurants and […]

Nagaoka Station

Nagaoka Station The station is part of the Joetsu Shinkansen line The station has various retail stores and eateries to choose from Nagaoka Station is one of the stops on the Joetsu Shinkansen line, the JR Joetsu local line, and the Shinetsu main line. The station has been in operation since 1898, and sees almost […]

Nakanoya Soba Restaurant, Shiozawa

The Nakanoya sign on R17 Beautiful views over the Uono River The tempura soba set The Nakanoya sign on R17 Nakanoya in Shiozawa is a required stop for soba purists as this restaurant prides itself on the quality of its noodles. As you walk into the restaurant you pass a slowly revolving stone mill that […]

Niigata Airport

The main terminal building with the Immigration Bureau on the right. Welcome to Niigata The drop off area in front of the terminal A couple of shops and restaurants for waiting passengers Stained glass Niigata promotion Sketches of places of interest in the prefecture The main area on the first floor Omiyage shop Rice mascots […]

Niigata Nabe and Sake Festival

Late Nov The event banner Venue: Bandai City Bus Center Bldg, 1-chōme-6-1 Bandai, Chuo Ward, Niigata, 950-0088, Japan When: Late Nov 2021 The Niigata Nabe and Sake Festival is an inaugural event which intends to celebrate the best of tasty, warming hot pot dishes and local sake – it's a perfect way to welcome the […]

Niigata Station

Niigata Station Ticket machines The Ponshukan is a popular spot for visitors passing through the station Niigata Station is located in Niigata City, and has both local and shinkansen lines which operate through it. The station is the terminus for the Joetsu Shinkansen which connects Niigata City to Tokyo, as well as being part of […]

Ninjintei restaurant in Yuzawa

The sign you are looking for…Ninjintei The main event…always a difficult choice Ninjintei restaurant in Yuzawa The sign you are looking for…Ninjintei Ninjintei is a Yuzawa legend. It is THE place to go if you are looking for a big feed. In a town were the visitor numbers fluctuate hugely, Ninjintei is one of the […]

Ohgiya Cafe

The exterior has a traditional-meets-modern vibe The savory waffles are topped with smoked salmon The curry is super flavorful and served on local koshihikari rice The exterior has a traditional-meets-modern vibe (Photo: Kim B) Bokushi Street in Shiozawa is one of my favorite places in all of Minamiuonuma. The street was part of the Mikunikaido, […]

Patisserie Sphere in Yuzawa

Treats Spoiled for choice… Cakes and cookies Treats Most new builds out in this part of the countryside seem to be old peoples' homes these days, so it was with some excitement that we read the sign for the new Patisserie Sphere premises just off Route 17 in Yuzawa. Sphere, otherwise know as Maruya, has […]

Pizzeria Vento E Mare Niigata

The exterior of the restaurant (Photo: Kim B) Lunch specials are listed on the chalkboard outside (Photo: Kim B) The interior is simple but welcoming (Photo: Kim B) Bottles galore! (Photo: Kim B) Their home made meatball pizza is my favorite! (Photo: Kim B) Their salami pizza was a lunch special on one of my […]

Ramen Shop

Looks really tasty! The restaurant is just across from the east gate of Yuzawa station A delicious and filling meal Looks really tasty! (Photo: Gaurav Dahal) It was a winter night, and as I was slow with reading Japanese characters, I asked Shinji (my friend from Japan) to suggest a place where we could eat […]

Ramen Tenshin, Ishiuchi

Home-made pickles that try to avoid capture Giant dumplings in tasty sauce The imposing mapo ramen Yet another discovery of a great restaurant that I have driven past hundreds of times and never knew about! Ramen Tenshin is a tiny little restaurant on the main street of Ishiuchi, though if you did not know it […]

Ramen Wars

From last year’s event People’s passion for ramen is no joke – and they battle it out at this event! Something for everyone’s tastes Late Sep From last year’s event (Photo: Kim B) Venue: NST Head Office, Niigata When: Late Sep 2021 Notice: The dates for this event are not yet confirmed. This page will […]

Rice Cracker Kingdom in Niigata

Delicious senbei just from the roast and dripping with sauce Entrance to the “rice cracker kingdom” in Niigata City “Bolin” and “Balin”, the mascots of “the rice cracker kingdom” Displays about senbei making in the old days Watching the pros making senbei Did you know how rice crackers are made? Delicious senbei just from the […]

Riding the Moonlight Echigo

The Moonlight Echigo at Shinjuku Station. Looking into a reserved cabin. The reserved seats. Getting around Japan at night can be difficult. Once the trains and buses stop there’re only expensive taxis left to ferry you home. And what is one to do if they want to travel long distances at night after the shinkansen […]

Rouge Blanc Bakery

The exterior of the store (Photo: Kim B) Anpanman and Doraemon custard filled breads (Photo: Kim B) Turtle melon pan! (Photo: Kim B) Something for every taste (Photo: Kim B) There are savory options too (Photo: Kim B) Hot dog breads! (Photo: Kim B) There’s an area to sit inside and watch the snow fall […]

Sanpoutei in Koide

Sanpoutei on a bluebird day Tantanmen with free rice Interior of Sanpoutei Sanpoutei on a bluebird day A gluttonous friend recently revealed to me that he makes a stop on his way back to his hometown, pulling off the expressway in the process, at a ramen restaurant in Koide. His food recommendations are always spot […]

Sarukurayama Brewery

The architecture of the brewery is stunning (Photo: Kim B) From the outside patio area, you get some fantastic views (Photo: Kim B) The inside is furnished in a trendy, warehouse style (Photo: Kim B) There are various eats on offer, including gelato (Photo: Kim B) A delicious on-site bakery also awaits! (Photo: Kim B) […]

Shiroyama Honten

The char siu here melts in your mouth A pleasant view out the window! The menu is in Japanese, however some items have pictures The char siu here melts in your mouth (Photo: Kim B) Ever have those restaurants that you've only stumbled upon through luck? Shiroyama Honten is that restaurant for us. We were […]

Tabataya Soba Restaurant, Shiozawa

Look for this sign on R17 The restaurant itself is part of the experience An impressive amount of beams inside Look for this sign on R17 Shiozawa is the heart of koshihikari rice country, but one of the other things that they do really well in the area is soba noodles. For a stunning soba […]

Taibow Coffee and Gelato

Coffee and carb filled goodies The triple threat of deliciousness The views are lovely! Coffee and carb filled goodies (Photo: Kim B) Any time I'm passing through a new town or out on a road trip, I try and map out where to stop off for a coffee break along the way. That's how I […]

Takahashi Ameya

There are many types of traditional Japanese sweets to choose from. Great decorations and ambience. Sitting area for tasting. Great decorations and ambience. The wooden cabinet was installed since 1877. Great decorations and ambience. A very vintage shop. Vintage calligraphy The shopfront. Takahashi Magozaemon first opened its door in 1624 and has been selling traditional […]

Yuzawa Town in Niigata Prefecture

A collection of Niigata sushi A colorful view of the landscape with snowy mountains behind One of the largest Sake production facilities in Niigata Time for tasting! Kampai! Ready to make the sushi Masterful technique I had the opportunity to join a tour in Yuzawa where I experienced making two traditional Japanese dishes: sushi and chawanmushi. […]

Taverna Vicini at Daigenta Canyon

Panini Platter The Terrace Inside Taverna Vicini Vine strangling tree Temptation fresh from the oven An ice cream to finish Panini Platter Daigenta Canyon sits just outside Yuzawa. There is a lake out there that sits under Mount Daigenta, a camping area, an outdoor center offering canoeing, nordic walking and nature tours as well as […]

Teien-no-sato Honai

The entrance (Photo: Kim B) This place is filled with plants to purchase! (Photo: Kim B) That’s our Niigata “mascot” – plenty of items with Lerch-san on them! (Photo: Kim B) Anpanman, Baikinman and all the crew as stone statues for your garden! (Photo: Kim B) This place is a joy because of all the […]

The Yumezora or Dream Sky Train

The Dream Sky Train The carriage lit up during one of the many tunnels Goldfish on the ceiling Yet again in Japan I find myself spending train-related leisure time! The Hoku Hoku line runs from Echigo Yuzawa Station out to the Niigata coastline and the port of Naoetsu. On the way it needs to negotiate […]

Triple Kids Amusement Cafe, Niigata

Triple Kids Amusement Cafe One of the many play areas The main room with slides Triple Kids Amusement Cafe Who needs the gym when you have young kids to run after? Harassed parents will love the Triple Kids Amusement Cafe in Niigata city. It is right next to the aquarium and is a perfect add-on […]

Ueda no Sato Restaurant in Shiozawa

Ueda no Sato Mochi Mallets and Rolling Pins The delicious tempura/soba set The main dining area after the lunch rush Traditional tools next to their rice fields 100% countryside Ueda no Sato Ueda no Sato is a great local restaurant offering countryside staples as well as the chance to go hands-on with some traditional techniques. […]

Uono River Ayu Festival

Grilling the fish The summer heat calls for ice-cold beer! A team effort! Late Aug Grilling the fish (Photo: Kim B) Venue: Sakato Bridge Riverbank, Muikamachi When: Late Aug 2021 The Uono River in Niigata is a tributary of the Shinano River – Japan's longest and widest river – and is also a popular spot […]

Uonuma no Hatake Restaurant

“The Fields of Uonuma” inside Echigo Yuzawa Station Spoiled for choice with 22 different dishes on offer A simple setting for a simple meal “The Fields of Uonuma” inside Echigo Yuzawa Station Sometimes some of the best finds have been right before your eyes the whole time, and this is certainly the case with Uonuma […]

Uonuma no Sato

Shochu barrels in the Hakkai-san tasting room Spotless sake production facility turning out a highly regarded tipple Great views from the soba restaurant onto the landscaped gardens The soba restaurant in a traditional wooden framed building Photographs of traditional snow storage that would give ice in summer months Snow keeping the sake at a constant […]

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