Please enjoy the rich culture and activities of the area near IUJ’s campus, and a bus/train ride away. And be sure to enjoy the amazing food too.
And below are featured information websites and specific events or places to enjoy
BEAUTIFUL guides to Niigata including Sado, Eating, Staying and more. Many languages
Special Guides prepared for the 2020 Olympics to welcome overseas guests to Niigata to enjoy the area. IUJ is invited to use them!
Sightseeing Guide by Minami Uonuma City
Minami Uonuma City’s website with events and guides (Google translated to English)
Niigata Tourism "Enjoy Niigata" Facebook updates
Niigata Tourism Bureau English Facebook page will keep you updated on all the wonderful things happening in Niigata
Time Line of Events and Activities
Timely information on events and activities in our area
Discover the world class Ski Resorts between campus and Tokyo, including Naeba, home of the 2020 Alpine Ski World Championship event
Festivals in our area
Festivals in Niigata Prefecture – searchable by month
TWO Cultural Events about 3K from campus
Don’t miss the Oct 20 Firewalking Festival and the Naked Man’s Festival (first Saturday of March)! Both are famous in Japan, with a very deep cultural heritage.
- Osaki Dam – Feed the colorful Koi, Enjoy the Koi No Bori (Carp Kites) during Golden Week, and the Sakura – Cherry trees in the Spring. Anytime, enjoy a nice walk in nature. Located 3K from campus.
- While there, visit Hakkaisan Shrine, and have Soba (buckwheat noodles) at the restaurant behind the shrine. Then stroll down the path for a refreshing nature walk. This is the entry to Hakkaisan mountain hiking trail.
- Hakkaisan Sake Brewery – At Uonuma no Sato, the home of Hakkaisan sake brewery, enjoy a tour of a Snow Refrigeration system, sample sake and other brews by Hakkaisan (including non-alcohol drinks), sample and purchase Baum kuchen and other local traditional foods and sauces, check out the micro brewery and bakery. 3 restaurants on the premise – one favorite it “Minna no Shokudo” – everyone’s cafeteria. A wonderful afternoon in a feel-good natural setting. Many IUJ students bike to Uonuma no Sato, about 9K each way. Some even walk! Japanese page is here。 And check out their Facebook page.
Ojiya Balloon Festival – held the 3rd weekend of February Enjoy hot air balloons as they lift off from the snow field. Even ride in one!
Ojiya “bull fights” – between May and November each year, on select weekends, marvel at the massive bulls as they are led out by their trainers and “fight” sumo style!
Ojiya Fireworks Display – Enjoy the unique fireworks display: each firework is dedicated to someone in the town to celebrate births, birthdays, engagements, weddings and more. This display includes the Guiness Book of World Record launch each year! September 8 and 9
Where to Stay
There are a few AirBnBs in the area. If you search AirBnB Minami Uonuma City you will find some options.
The nearest western style hotel is Hotel Okabe, and other option is Paramount in Urasa. At Hakkaisan Roku (IUJ Ski Day place) there is the Cycling Terminal!
For simple Japanese Inns, Tejimaya is recommended.
For elaborate Inns, the beautiful Ryugon is in Muikamachi, and Satoyama Juju is recommended by an alum. It is in Echigo Yuzawa, so not convenient to campus
Where to Eat
This is a list of favorites in the IUJ area. It is a growing list
- Kodamaya Family Dining – huge menu (pizza to sushi to steak to ramen), family friendly, but also amazing seasonal set menus. Across from Urasa station. Some Halal and no pork/no alcohol offerings. If you are looking for a very special Japanese dinner experience, ask for the “Zeitaku Course” with advanced reservation. It is an experience for both your eyes and palate. Take out available.
- Matsuyoshi – Features soba, but has wonderful side dishes and sake choices. Osaki, about 3K from campus.
- La Grassa – Italian (mostly) with seasonal dishes. Located down the road from Okabe, near Basel Baker – 4k from campus. Group dining with advanced reservations are possible.
- Bistro Rire – Italian with a flare: pasta and special dishes. Rumor has it the pork chops are amazing but require 2 day prior ordering.
- Seirin – Sushi bar, with other fun dishes too and an amazing selection of Shochu. Near Tamon Bridget 4.5K from campus. Here is another nice website presentation
- Ezumiya – Japanese Teishoku set menus and Okinawan cooking. Specialty and daily side dishes. Located near Urasa Post Office, on the other side of the station. Try the Ebi Teishoku or Goya Chanpuru! Easy to order set menu with English, but the daily specials (in Japanese) are great too.
- Buffalo – YakiNiku (Korean Barbeque) spot. Usually packed so reservations are necessary. Near the Express way entrance, about 2.5K from campus. Fun for groups of 4-6 in your own space.
- Azumaken – Various “teishoku” set menu items, ramens, Chinese dishes. Take out and delivery to campus possible. Extra spicy ramen, just for IUJers is on the menu. English menu available for most of the offerings. Located near Toda grocery store, about 1.5K from campus
- Kita no Yado – Okonomiyaki (Japanese pizza or stuffed pancakes), Chinese dishes, Yakiniku, etc. Located near Toda Store, about 1.5K from campus on the back roads
- Maruta – A new Italian restaurant with interesting menu options and wonderful setting at the base of the old Urasa Skijo. New style of pizza (at least to me), mini Dutch oven dishes, and much more. There is also one in Muikamachi. Friendly staff.
- Ako Cafe – a new spot near the IUJ bus stop at the hospital, with an English menu. Great spot for both casual lunch and nice dinner too! Ramen to Italian Ham to sashimi to lambchops to .. to .. to . Try the yummy Cobb Salad! Kid friendly.