Sunday, April 13, 2014
MUFA Day #7: Niigata
I decided on Day #7 of My Ultimate Fantasy Adventure to initiate my Shinkansen journey and catch the bullet train to Niigata, about 200 miles northwest of Tokyo. The round trip cost would have approached $300, but my two-week Green Card (first class) Japan Rail Pass could be used. I paid around $600 for this pass, so, already, in only one small roundtrip, I covered half the cost of my two-week journey. NOTE: you need to purchase this pass at home before you land in Japan.
Niigata, with a population of 800,000, is a two hour Shinkansen (bullet train) ride from Tokyo towards the Sea of Japan. I had a sake and mixed nuts.
The best rice, koshihikari, and sake in the world come from Niigata. At least the PR from this region boasts so. The idea is that conditions here are ideal for growth: cool and hot temperatures, snow waters, ideal soil. However, in 1965 the Agano River running through Niigata suffered from methyl mercury poisoning, with 690 citizens exhibiting symptoms of Minamata disease. It is generally not well-publicized that Niigata was one of the four cities selected by the U.S. military for the atomic bomb drop.
The cherry blossoms were at peak in this city. Here a typical hanami (sakura picnic):
A yellow tulip:
On my way back, I had to try their rice, so had sushi and Niigata beer: