Niigata Echigo Yuzawa

Just one hour from Tokyo on the shinkansen, Echigo Yuzawa is a fun get-away to a snowy paradise. There are mountains for skiing, and even play areas for kids to sled. Even ski gear and snow boots can be rented, so no need to go up with heavy bags. We left sunny Tokyo and after passing through a long tunnel near our destination, was surprised to be arriving in a winter wonderland.

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Yuzawa Ski Park Resort

We used Yuzawa Ski Park Resort with a free shuttle from the station. After arriving we signed up for a kids’ ski lesson and rented a sled.

Yuzawa Kogen is walking distance from the station. We took a cable car from the base to halfway up the mountain where there was a blizzard and we were in the clouds.

We stayed at Taki no Yu and had our own private onsen (photo above right) in our room. The kid-friendly ryokan had Purare-ru train set in the lobby.

The cuisine was very good. Below are photos of the small dishes for the okayu breakfast (left photo) and the appetizers for dinner (right photo).

Taki no Yu. Request the Kikyou Room for the private onsen in the room. The water made my skin feel soft and the temperature was not too hot. The rotenburo, outdoors onsen, was set in snow. Soaking in a hot tub while snow falls down is so relaxing. The room we stayed in had two beds and a separate tatami room for futons. It said it could sleep up to seven, so a good option if traveling with family.

http://www.yuzawa-takinoyu.com/rooms/#con_kikyou

The station has a large shopping area for omiyage including regional food products, knives, fresh produce, and rice. Niigata is famous for Koshihikari grown in Uonuma. There are several restaurants including a sushi-ya, soba-ya, and a nice cafe for mattcha latte and soft serve made with local milk.

Ponshukan is a saké tasting room for a flight of five saké starting at 500 JPY.

There is a visitors’ center in the station that is a warm seating area and has free wifi as well as some brochures in English.

For the return shinkansen we picked up two bentō at the ekiben stand in the station. Both bentō  include a heating unit under the bentō that heats it up in five minutes. There is a big selection of cup saké sold at the station.

Echigo Yuzawa would also be an easy day trip from Tokyo. Round-trip tickets are less than 15,000 JPY. One tip, ask for seats on the second floor of the shinkansen for better views. Another tip, many roads and sidewalks have running water to keep the snow from accumulating. Be sure to go with waterproof shoes, or rent a pair of boots at the information center just outside of the station.

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Niigata – Sake Tasting at Echigo Yuzawa Station

Echigo Yuzawa is a short shinkansen ride from Tokyo station, just over an hour. We left Tokyo on a sunny morning and when the train shoots out of the the Niigata mountain side of the tunnel, we were in a snowstorm. It was like a dream come true.

Echigo Yuzawa station has a special sake tasting room with over a hundred sake, shochu, umeshu, and Japanese wine, all from Niigata. The tasting starts at 500 JPY. Visitors are given a small sake tasting cup and five tokens. It’s a fun way to get a grasp on Niigata sake. There is a box with hot water for warming up the sake. Some great offerings including Hakkaisan, Kakurei, and Kubota. There were several seasonal offerings as well.

Even if Echigo Yuzawa is not your final destination, if you are passing through, I would suggest getting off the train and spending an hour in the station at this sake tasting area and visiting the many shops selling regional products.

Ponshukan

Echigo Yuzawa Station, Niigata

http://www.ponshukan.com/05_1.htm

Antenna Shops in Nihonbashi

Antenna Shops in Nihonbashi

In a recent survey of Tokyoites the main reason why they go to antenna shops is to pick up regional food products. The next popular answer was that it was interesting to explore antenna shops followed by picking up brochures for future trips to that prefecture. The other big answer was that people were longing for foods and products from their hometown so came to antenna shops to pick these up. Click on the name of the shop for each shop’s website (most likely in Japanese).

Nihonbashi Niigata Kan NICO Plaza #2Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Muromachi 1-6-5,

Jizake, seafood, and rice are some of the highlights of this antenna shop.

Taisha Tokyo Bldg. 1-2F

03-6214-1612

hours vary

Fukushima Yaesu Kanko Koryu Kan

Fresh fruits, rice, jizake, and sweets.

Chuo-ku, Yaesu 2-6-21, Santoku Yaesu Bldg.

03-3275-0855

10:00 – 19:00

Kyoto Kan

Minutes from Tokyo station’s Yaesu exit, the wagashi at this shop are gorgeous and exquisite.

Chuo-ku, Yaesu 2-1-1, Yanma Tokyo Bldg.

10:30 – 19:00 (closed last Wednesday of each month from March to September)

03-5204-2260

Yamanashi Kan

Yamanashi is known for its fruit and for its wine. There is an unusually large selection of over 100 Yamanashi wine at this shop. I suggest koshu, a white grape that is light, fruity, and easy to pair with most Japanese food.

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi 2-3-4, Nihonbashi Plaza 1F

10:00 – 19:00 (website says hours may open at 11:00 a.m. to conserve electricity)

03-3241-3776

Oidemase Yamaguchi Kan

My favorite item at this shop is the Hagi-yaki, pottery from Hagi, in pastel colors. I have picked up several teacups here for myself and as gifts. The glaze has fine cracks in it that over time become dark. It is as though the ceramic is alive and aging. This is in the same building as the Yamanashi shop so be sure to stop by both. Nihonbashi Takashimaya is also just down the street from here.

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi 2-3-4, Nihonbashi Plaza 1F

10:30 – 19:00

03-3231-1863

 

Nihonbashi Shimane Kan

Shimane prefecture’s antenna shop is located across the street from Mitsukoshi department store. Next door there is also a restaurant, Mondo, that features the local jizake and food of Shimane. Lunch set menus are donburi topped with seafood and cost about 1,000 JPY. The antenna shop posts its most popular selling items, all seafood. Most of it is himono, or fish that is butterflied and air-dried, perfect for grilling and serving with some sake. This month’s top sellers include nodoguro (blackthroat), aji (horse mackerel), and karei (flounder).

Chuo-ku, Nihonbashi Muromachi 1-5-3

10:30 – 19:00

 

A list of antenna shops in the Ginza area.