Translated by Greg
Kōshin'etsu Region - Japanese Encyclopedia
Written by Hiromasa Uematsu
Today we take you to the Kōshin'etsu region in Japan's north and introduce you to the food, activities, scenery and other charms that this area has to offer.
Composed of Niigata, Nagano and Yamanashi prefectures, the Kōshin'etsu region (also spelled as Koshinetsu) is a sub-region of the Chūbu region, and lies close to the center of the Japanese archipelago.
Niigata prefecture faces the ocean and Nagano and Yamanashi prefectures are situated further inland, but fundamentally this is a mountainous region. As a result, there are marked temperature swings, with summer being characteristically cool. It's also known as an area for summer retreats including such places as Karuizawa, Suwako, and Kirigamine.
The largest city in the Kōshin'etsu region is Niigata city with a population of 802,000 (as of January, 2016).
Access To The Koshinetsu Region
From Tokyo station to Niigata station it takes approximately 1 hour and 40 minutes - 2 hours and 10 minutes by shinkansen (bullet train). For those who would like to go by airplane, there isn't a direct flight from Haneda airport to Niigata airport, but there's one flight per day leaving from Narita airport taking 1 hour and 5 minutes. Then from Niigata airport, a limousine bus will whisk you away to Niigata station in about 25 minutes. The highway bus takes about 5-7 hours, but it's an economical way to travel so we recommend it for those of you watching your pocketbook.
Sightseeing And Things To Do In Each Prefecture
Known as a gōsetsu region, or heavy snowfall area, Niigata prefecture is blessed with an abundance of ski hills. The quality of the snow is top notch and ski hills are fully equipped, so winter sports lovers won't be disappointed! There are also many hot spring hotels, so after working up a sweat on the slopes skiing or snowboarding, stopping in at a hot spring would be an ideal way to end the day.
Famous as a scenic spot, Kamikōchi is located in Nagano prefecture's Japanese alps. With clear-running streams and beautiful, lush green mountains this magnificent area has been fittingly designated as one of Japan's cultural assets. The trekking here is superb and there's a hot spring in the area, so what better way to rest your tired body after a day of exercise.
Arguably the most famous sightseeing spot is Mount Fuji located in Yamanashi prefecture. Standing proudly as Japan's tallest peak, it has also been certified as a world heritage site. Because of Fuji Goko (five lakes near the base of Mt. Fuji), there are few buildings in the surrounding area, giving an unobstructed view of Mount Fuji's exquisite beauty in all its entirety, from the base all the way up to the summit. Within the five lakes area, Lake Kawaguchi is famous for its inverted reflection of Mt. Fuji on the lake's surface. In addition, you can also enjoy various outdoor activities including kayaking, making this area a popular sightseeing spot.
The Koshinetsu Region: Specialty Foods And Souvenirs
The Kōshin'etsu region is located inland, so as a result there are many local specialty dishes and souvenirs made from nearby agricultural products. Niigata prefecture is known as komedokoro, or an area that grows high quality rice, so it goes without saying that the local rice and sake are superb.
Nagano prefecture is famous for three local dishes; oyaki, nozawana zuke (pickled nozawa vegetables) and shinshū soba (buckwheat). Oyaki is made by adding water to flour or soba flour, kneading it then rolling it into a flat dough from which little wraps are made. These wraps are filled with anko (red bean paste)and vegetables, then grilled into dumplings. Nozawana, which is a variety of mustard greens, is pickled to make nozawana zuke and shinshū soba is the buckwheat harvested in this area.
Kofu city (Katsunuma-cho): At Château Mercian, sample some of Japan's delicious wines
Yamanashi prefecture is known for a unique local dish called hōtō. It's an udon-like dish considered to be a preserved food that helps people get through the long winter months.
Wines produced with locally grown grapes (specialty product) are known for their refreshing, yet elegant and refined taste and have proved to be a big hit.
Wherever you visit in the Kōshin'etsu region, you can enjoy magnificent scenery, relaxing hot springs and delicious local fare.
If you desire a more experiential-type trip rather than a standard sightseeing one, and if you like drinking alcohol, then we heartily recommend the Kōshin'etsu region. On your next visit to northern Japan, drop by this area and enjoy various outdoor activities and savor delicious tasting wine and sake in a splendid natural setting!!!