Trip Idea #3 : Niigata Prefecture's Yahiko Village
Located in central Niigata Prefecture and abutting the Sea of Japan, Yahiko Village is considered one of Japan's most sacred areas. According to legend, the great grandson of Shinto Japan's founding deity, Amaterasu-omikami, settled here. The god helped establish regional Echigo agriculture. Today, Yahiko Village is renowned for its rice, edamame, shiitake mushrooms and sake. Locally caught seafood is another delicious gourmet specialty. Major drawcards include Yahiko Shrine, Yahiko Park and Mount Yahiko (634 meters). The former is one of Japan's most significant shrines. Stately cedar trees, mature maples, blushing cherry blossoms and cheery chrysanthemums can all be found on its premises. The summit of Mount Yahiko is accessible by hiking trails or ropeway. Take in sweeping views of Sado Island and the Sea of Japan coastline on a clear day. Any hiking should be followed by a soak in one of the town's onsen or hot springs. Some are standalone. Others form part of traditional ryokan or inn lodgings. To reach Yahiko Village by train, take the JR Joetsu Shinkansen from Tokyo. Get off at Tsubame-sanjo Station and transfer to the JR Yahiko Line. Alternatively, travel from Niigata Station via the Echigo and Yahiko line, changing at Yoshida Station.