Niigata Prefecture

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Coordinates: 37°37′N 138°52′E / 37.617°N 138.867°E / 37.617; 138.867

Niigata Prefecture
Japanese transcription(s)
 • Japanese新潟県
 • RōmajiNiigata-ken
Flag of Niigata Prefecture
Official logo of Niigata Prefecture
Location of Niigata Prefecture
Country Japan
RegionChūbu (Kōshinetsu) (Hokuriku)
SubdivisionsDistricts: 9, Municipalities: 30
 • GovernorHideyo Hanazumi
 • Total12,584.18 km2 (4,858.78 sq mi)
 • Rank5th
 (July 1, 2019)
 • Total2,227,496
 • Rank14th
 • Density180/km2 (460/sq mi)
ISO 3166 codeJP-15
Symbols of Japan
BirdCrested ibis (Nipponia nippon)
FlowerTulip (Tulipa gesneriana)
TreeCamellia (Camellia japonica)

Niigata Prefecture (新潟県, Niigata-ken) is a prefecture in the Chūbu region of Honshu of Japan.[1] Niigata Prefecture has a population of 2,227,496 (1 July 2019) and is the fifth-largest prefecture of Japan by geographic area at 12,584.18 km2 (4,858.78 sq mi). Niigata Prefecture borders Toyama Prefecture and Nagano Prefecture to the southwest, Gunma Prefecture to the south, Fukushima Prefecture to the east, and Yamagata Prefecture to the northeast.

Niigata is the capital and largest city of Niigata Prefecture, with other major cities including Nagaoka, Jōetsu, and Sanjō.[2] Niigata Prefecture contains the Niigata Major Metropolitan Area centered on Niigata with a population of 1,395,612, the largest metropolitan area on the Sea of Japan coast and the twelfth-largest in Japan. Niigata Prefecture is part of the historic Hokuriku region and features Sado Island, the sixth largest island of Japan in area following the four main islands and Okinawa Island.


Rinsenji Temple, the family temple of Uesugi

Until after the Meiji Restoration, the area that is now Niigata Prefecture was divided into Echigo Province (on the mainland) and Sado Province.[3] During the Sengoku period, the Nagao clan, who were at times vassals to the Uesugi, ruled a fief in the western part of modern Niigata from Kasugayama Castle. The most notable member of the Nagao clan was Nagao Kagetora, later and better known as Uesugi Kenshin. He unified the leaders of Echigo Province and became its sole ruler. By taking the surname Uesugi, he also became the head of the Uesugi clan and effectively brought their realm under his control.

The city of Niigata is now the third largest Japanese city facing the Sea of Japan, after Fukuoka and Kitakyushu. It was the first Japanese port on the Sea of Japan to be opened to foreign trade following the opening of Japan by Matthew Perry. It has since played an important role in trade with Russia and Korea. A freighter from North Korea visits Niigata once a month, in one of the few forms of direct contact between Japan and that country.

The Etsuzankai organization, led by the politician Kakuei Tanaka, was highly influential in bringing infrastructure improvements to Niigata Prefecture in the 1960s and 1970s. These included the Jōetsu Shinkansen high-speed rail line and the Kanetsu Expressway to Tokyo.

On October 23, 2004, the Chūetsu earthquake struck Niigata Prefecture and was measured at Shindo 6+ at Ojiya.

On January 9, 2006, a heavy winter storm struck the prefecture and its neighbors. At least 71 people died and more than 1,000 were injured. Also in 2006, a massive tsunami and earthquake damaged homes and caused casualties in the maritime areas of Niigata Prefecture, especially near Sado Island.

On July 16, 2007, another earthquake hit the area.

Niigata Prefecture hosts the Fuji Rock Festival, an annual event held at the Naeba ski resort. The three-day event, organized by Smash Japan, features more than 200 Japanese and international musicians. It is one of the largest outdoor music events in Japan, with more than 100,000 people attending in 2005.


Map of Niigata Prefecture
     Government Ordinance Designated City      City      Town      Village
Niigata Prefecture in winter from the sky
Ten-Ken cliff of Oya-Shirazu, Itoigawa

Niigata Prefecture stretches about 240 km (149 mi) along the Sea of Japan, from the southwest to the northeast, with a coastal plain between the mountains and the sea. It also includes Sado Island. Niigata Prefecture could be placed in either the Hokuriku or the Kōshinetsu, both of which are considered parts of the Chūbu region. The prefecture is generally divided into four geographical areas: Jōetsu region (上越) in the south, Chūetsu (中越) in the center, Kaetsu (下越) in the north, and Sado Island. The mouth of the Shinano River, the longest river in Japan, is located in Niigata Prefecture.

As of 1 April 2014, 25% of the total land area of the prefecture was designated as Natural Parks, namely Bandai-Asahi, Chūbu-Sangaku, Nikkō, and Oze National Parks; Echigo Sanzan-Tadami and Sado-Yahiko-Yoneyama Quasi-National Parks; and thirteen Prefectural Natural Parks.[4]


Twenty cities are located in Niigata Prefecture:

Name Area (km2) Population Map
Rōmaji Kanji
Flag of Agano, Niigata.svg Agano 阿賀野市 192.74 41,204 Agano in Niigata Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Gosen Niigata.svg Gosen 五泉市 351.91 48,458 Gosen in Niigata Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Itoigawa, Niigata.svg Itoigawa 糸魚川市 746.24 41,333 Itoigawa in Niigata Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Joetsu, Niigata.svg Jōetsu 上越市 973.81 189,430 Joetsu in Niigata Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Kamo Niigata.svg Kamo 加茂市 133.72 25,971 Kamo in Niigata Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Kashiwazaki, Niigata.svg Kashiwazaki 柏崎市 442.03 81,836 Kashiwazaki in Niigata Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Minamiuonuma Niigata.svg Minamiuonuma 南魚沼市 584.55 55,354 Minamiuonuma in Niigata Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Mitsuke, Niigata.svg Mitsuke 見附市 77.91 39,908 Mitsuke in Niigata Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Murakami Niigata.svg Murakami 村上市 1,174.26 58,300 Murakami in Niigata Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Myoko Nigata.svg Myōkō 妙高市 445.63 31,374 Myoko in Niigata Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Nagaoka, Niigata.svg Nagaoka 長岡市 891.06 266,539 Nagaoka in Niigata Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Niigata, Niigata.svg Niigata (capital) 新潟市 726.45 797,591 Niigata in Niigata Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Ojiya Niigata.svg Ojiya 小千谷市 155.19 34,704 Ojiya in Niigata Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Sado, Niigata.svg Sado 佐渡市 855.26 55,474 Sado in Niigata Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Sanjo, Niigata.svg Sanjō 三条市 431.97 95,706 Sanjo in Niigata Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Shibata, Niigata.svg Shibata 新発田市 533.1 96,236 Shibata in Niigata Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Tainai Niigata.svg Tainai 胎内市 264.89 28,495 Tainai in Niigata Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Tokamachi Niigata.svg Tōkamachi 十日町市 590.39 53,333 Tokamachi in Niigata Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Tsubame, Niigata.svg Tsubame 燕市 110.96 77,382 Tsubame in Niigata Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Uonuma, Niigata.svg Uonuma 魚沼市 946.76 35,027 Uonuma in Niigata Prefecture Ja.svg

Towns and villages[edit]

These are the towns and villages in each district:

Name Area (km2) Population District Type Map
Rōmaji Kanji
Flag of Aga, Niigata.svg Aga 阿賀町 952.89 10,386 Higashikanbara District Town Aga in Niigata Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Awashimaura, Niigata.svg Awashimaura 粟島浦村 9.78 353 Iwafune District Village Awashimaura in Niigata Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Izumozaki, Niigata.svg Izumozaki 出雲崎町 44.38 4,190 Santō District Town Izumozaki in Niigata Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Kariwa, Niigata.svg Kariwa 刈羽村 26.27 4,578 Kariwa District Village Kariwa in Niigata Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Seiro, Niigata.svg Seirō 聖籠町 37.58 14,025 Kitakanbara District Town Seiro in Niigata Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Sekikawa Niigata.JPG Sekikawa 関川村 299.61 5,291 Iwafune District Village Sekikawa in Niigata Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Tagami, Niigata.svg Tagami 田上町 31.71 11,481 Minamikanbara District Town Tagami in Niigata Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Tsunan, Niigata.svg Tsunan 津南町 170.21 9,349 Nakauonuma District Town Tsunan in Niigata Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Yahiko Niigata.JPG Yahiko 弥彦村 25.17 7,824 Nishikanbara District Village Yahiko in Niigata Prefecture Ja.svg
Flag of Yuzawa, Niigata (white).svg Yuzawa 湯沢町 357.29 7,926 Minami-Uonuma District Town Yuzawa in Niigata Prefecture Ja.svg


List of Governors of Niigata Prefecture (from 1947)[edit]


Agriculture, forestry and fishing[edit]

Paddy fields in Minamiuonuma

The major industry in Niigata Prefecture is agriculture. Rice is the principal product, and among the prefectures of Japan Niigata is second only to Hokkaidō in rice output. The area around Uonuma is known for producing the Koshihikari variety, widely considered to be the highest-quality rice produced in Japan.

Rice-related industries are also very important to the prefectural economy. Niigata Prefecture is known throughout Japan for its high-quality sake, senbei, mochi, and arare. In sake production, the prefecture comes third after Gunma and Kyoto prefectures.

The prefecture was also the place of origin of the ornamental carp known as koi.

Niigata Prefecture produces the highest volume of azaleas and cut lilies in Japan, and is increasing the production of cut flowers and flower bulbs. Along with Toyama Prefecture, it produces the highest volume of tulips in the country.

Mining and manufacturing[edit]

Ruins of Kitazawa Flotation Plant, Sado gold mine

Crude oil is produced in Niigata Prefecture, although Japan relies heavily on petroleum imported from other countries. Kerosene heaters are also produced for use in the cold Niigata winters.

Kinzan, on Sado Island, was an active gold mine until it was closed in 1989.

Sanjō and Tsubame produce 90 percent of all the silverware made in Japan. The two cities are second after Osaka in the production of scissors, kitchen knives, and wrenches.

Niigata Prefecture may have been the first area in Japan to produce knitted textiles, although the earliest products may have been imported from China. A nuclear power plant, which formerly had the highest energy output in the world,[citation needed] is located in the tiny village of Kariwa. It has been closed since the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster.[5]


Niigata prefecture population pyramid in 2020
Historical population
YearPop.±% p.a.

In the Census of 2003, Niigata ranked as the 14th most populous.


Niigata Geishas



Niigata is known for the following regional specialities:

Niigata in popular culture[edit]

  • Snow Country (1947): a novel by Nobel laureate Yasunari Kawabata set in Yuzawa
  • "Niigata Snow": a track on the LP Aida, released by Derek Bailey in 1980
  • Kura: a film and TV series (1995) based on the 1993 book by Tomiko Miyao, an award-winning period piece about a Niigata family and its sake brewery
  • Blue (1996): a manga about high school girls, set in Niigata City, adapted as a film in 2001
  • Whiteout: an action film based on a novel published in 1995
  • United States of Tara (2011): a comedy-drama series on Showtime; Kate is about to embark on a trip to teach English in Niigata when a flight attendant tells her that the only thing she will hopefully find in Niigata is "a life lesson and a bullet train back to Tokyo."

Tourism and sports[edit]

Much of the tourism in Niigata centers around skiing, especially in the alpine areas of Myōkō and Yuzawa, and going to onsen. Sado Island off the west coast of Niigata is accessible via ferry (taking one to two and a half hours) from Naoetsu or Niigata City.

Professional sports clubs include Albirex Niigata, a J-League Division 1 Football Club, and Niigata Albirex BB, a BJ (Basketball Japan) League team.


Nagaoka Festival (with fireworks)
Night cherry blossoms and Takada castle
  • Tokamachi Snow Festival- February
  • Murakami Taisai – July 6–7
  • Iwafune Taisai – October 18–19, in Murakami
  • Niigata Festival – August
  • Niigata General Dancing Event -September 21–25
  • Shirone Kite Festival – June
  • Sanjo Kite Festival – June
  • Nagaoka Festival (with fireworks) – August
  • Niigata Tanrei Sake-no-Jin - March
  • Echigo-Tsumari Festival - August and September (every third year)[7]



Transport Map of Niigata Prefecture Red = Expressway, Green=Shinkansen, Black= Railway





National highways[edit]


  • Niigata Port – Ferry route to Sado Island (Ryotsu),[8] Tsuruga, Akita, Otaru and Tomakomai, with International Container hub port
  • Ryotsu Port – Ferry route to Niigata
  • Ogi Port - Ferry route to Naoetsu
  • Naoetsu Port in Joetsu - Ferry route to Ogi
  • Iwafune Port in Murakami- Ferry route to Awashima


Notable individuals[edit]

Politics and military[edit]

Arts and culture[edit]

  • Zeami Motokiyo (1363– 1443), aesthetician, actor, and playwright, exile to Sado Island
  • Ryōkan (1758–1831), Zen Buddhist monk and poet, from Izumozaki
  • Etsu Inagaki Sugimoto, (1874–1950), autobiographer and novelist, Professor of literature and taught Japanese language, culture and history at Columbia University, from Nagaoka
  • Yaichi Aizu (1881–1956), poet, calligrapher and historian, from Niigata City
  • Kokei Kobayashi (1883–1957), Nihonga painter, from Joetsu
  • Mimei Ogawa (1882–1961), author of short stories, children's stories, and fairy tales, from Joetsu
  • Koganei Yoshikiyo (1859–1944), anatomist and anthropologist, from Nagaoka
  • Kyusaku Ogino (1882-1975), doctor specializing in obstetrics and gynecology, Niigata Takeyama Hospital
  • Kinichiro Sakaguchi(1897 – 1994), agricultural chemist and microbiologist, from Joetsu
  • Takashi Amano(1954-2015), photographer and aquarist, from Niigata
  • Tetsuji Morohashi(1883– 1982) chief editor of the Dai Kan-Wa jiten, a comprehensive dictionary of Chinese characters, from Sanjo
  • Tetsuo Harada (born 1949 Niitsu-shi), sculptor working in Paris France
  • Tsuchida Bakusen (1887–1936), Japanese painter, from Sado
  • Fubō Hayashi (1900–1935), novelist from Sado Island
  • Inoue Enryō (1858–1919), Buddhist philosopher, from Nagaoka
  • Junzaburō Nishiwaki (1894–1982), Japanese poet and literary critic, from Ojiya
  • Daigaku Horiguchi (1892-1981), poet and translator of French literature, from Nagaoka
  • Makoto Aida (born 1965), Artist, from Niigata City
  • Donald Keene (born 1922), Japanese scholar, historian, teacher, writer and translator of Japanese literature, Honorary Citizen of Kashiwazaki
  • Kodo (taiko group), Based in Sado

Actors, Actresses, Singers

Pop culture, manga, voice actors


See also[edit]


  1. ^ Nussbaum, Louis-Frédéric. (2005). "Niigata-ken" in Japan Encyclopedia, p. 711, p. 711, at Google Books
  2. ^ Nussbaum, "Niigata" at p. 711, p. 711, at Google Books
  3. ^ Nussbaum, "Provinces and prefectures" at p. 780, p. 780, at Google Books
  4. ^ "General overview of area figures for Natural Parks by prefecture" (PDF). Ministry of the Environment. 1 April 2014. Retrieved 14 February 2015.
  5. ^ "Japanese Anti-nuclear Candidate Wins Election at Site of World's Biggest Atomic Power Station". The Guardian. Reuters. 17 October 2016. Retrieved 17 October 2016.
  6. ^ Statistics Bureau of Japan
  7. ^ "Triennale 2015 - Echigo-Tsumari Art Field".
  8. ^ "Access Map | 佐渡汽船公式サイト" (in Japanese). Retrieved 2021-09-03.
  9. ^ "Ken Watanabe Facts | Britannica". Archived from the original on 2022-08-18. Retrieved 2022-12-25.
  10. ^ Weiss, Alexandra (2018-08-02). "Rina Sawayama Is Not the Asian Britney Spears". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on 2022-02-10. Retrieved 2022-12-25.


External links[edit]