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 is a prefecture of Japanmarker located on Honshūmarker island on the coast of the Sea of Japanmarker. The capital is the city of Niigata. The name Niigata literally means "new lagoon".


Niigata prefecture was originally divided into Echigo Province and Sado Province until the Meiji Restoration. During the Sengoku period, the Nagao clan, who were at times vassals to the Uesugi, ruled Kasugayama Castle and the surrounding fief located in the west of modern Niigata. The most notable member of the Nagao clan was Nagao Kagetora who was later and is better known as Uesugi Kenshin. He unified the leaders of Echigo Province thus becoming its sole ruler. By taking the surname Uesugi, he became the head of the Uesugi clan and effectively brought their vast realm into his domain.

The city of Niigata-shi is the largest among the cities facing the Sea of Japanmarker. It was the first port on the Sea of Japan to open to foreign trade since the opening of Japan by Matthew Perry in the mid-1800s. It has since played an important role in trade with Russiamarker and northern Koreamarker.

The Etsuzankai organization, led by prime minister Tanaka Kakuei, was highly influential in bringing infrastructure improvements to Niigata in the 1960s and 1970s, including the Joetsu Shinkansen high speed rail line and Kanetsu Expressway to Tokyomarker.

A freighter from North Koreamarker visits Niigata once a month, one of the few direct contacts with the communist country.

On October 23, 2004, the Chūetsu earthquakemarker struck Niigata Prefecture, which was measured at Shindo 6+ at Ojiyamarker.

On January 9, 2006, a heavy winter storm struck the prefecture and its surroundings. At least 71 people died and over a thousand were injured.

On July 16, 2007, the earthquakemarker hit the area.

Niigata Prefecture hosts the Fuji Rock Festival, an annual rock festival in 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 event in Japan, with more than 100,000 people attending in 2005.


Map of Niigata Prefecture
Ten-Ken cliff of Oya-Shirazu, Niigata
Niigata prefecture stretches about 240 km along the Sea of Japanmarker from southwest to north east, with a coastal plain between the mountains and the sea. It also includes Sado Island.

Because of the way it is shaped, Niigata prefecture is often called small Honshū-Main Island. It could be placed in either the Hokuriku or Kōshin'etsu regions, each considered part of the greater Chūbu regionmarker.

The prefecture is generally divided into four geographical areas: Jōetsu in the south, Chūetsu at the center, Kaetsu in the north, and Sado Island. The mouth of the Shinano Rivermarker, the longest river in Japan, is located in Niigata.

In 2006, a massive tsunami and earthquake damaged homes and caused casualties in the maritime areas of Niigata, especially nearby the Sado Island.


20 cities are located in Niigata Prefecture:
Niigata is divided into 8 wards (-ku)

Towns and villages

Towns and villages in each district:



Agriculture, forestry and fishing

The major industry in Niigata is agriculture. Rice is the principal product, and Niigata is the second after Hokkaidōmarker among the prefectures in the total rice output. The area around Uonuma is known for Koshihikari variety, which is widely considered as the highest quality rice in Japan.

Rice-related industries are also very important to the local economy. Niigata prefecture is known throughout Japan for its quality sake, senbei, mochi, and arare. In sake production, Niigata is third in the country after Gunmamarker and Kyotomarker prefectures.

The prefecture is known as the origin of the ornamental carp known as koi, and the farms of Niigata still produce what is considered as the highest quality koi.

Niigata produces the highest volume of azaleas and cut lilies in Japan. Niigata also enjoys increasing production of cut flowers and flower bulb. Along with Toyama prefecturemarker, Niigata produces the highest volume of tulips in the country.

Mining and manufacturing

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

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

Sanjo and Tsubame produce 9% of all metal silverware in Japan, by far the most for one area in the country. The two cities are the second after Osaka in the production of scissors, kitchen knives, and wrenches.

Niigata supposedly is the first in the production of knitted textile in the country, although some of the products may have been actually imported from Chinamarker.

The nuclear power plant with the highest energy output in the world is located in the tiny village of Kariwamarker.


In 1885, Niigata was the most populous prefecture in Japan, beating even Tokyomarker and Osaka prefecturemarker in population. In the census in 2003, Niigata ranked as the 14th most populous.

Like in the rest of Japan, Niigata's population shows signs of aging, particularly in the rural areas.



Niigata is known for the following regional specialities:

Niigata's firsts

Niigata in film, literature and music


Much of the tourism in Niigata centers around the popular winter activities of skiing and going to onsen, especially in the alpine areas of Myōkōmarker and Yuzawa.

Sado Island off the west coast of Niigata is also another popular tourist spot. It is easily accessible (1-2.5 hours) via ferry from Naoetsu or Niigata City.

Enjoy Niigata: Niigata prefecture tourism guide

Prefectural symbols

Prefectural website


Politics and military

Arts and culture


Professional sports clubs

External links


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