A Travellerspoint blog

Springtime in Niigata

semi-overcast 20 °C

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This Shinkansen high-speed bullet train sped us through the mountains of Gunma in a series of tunnels rivalling the Chunnel and in just an hour we travelled halfway across Japan to arrive in Niigata…
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This is the Niigata Conference Centre where some of the G7 meetings will take place later this month. If the delegates have a few spare minutes they can stroll across the road to the fish market and enjoy browsing the fabulous selection of seafood…
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They will, of course, enjoy some of the finest sushi, sashimi and tempura known to man – just as we did…
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Although Niigata is fundamentally a modern city with superb shopping malls and department stores, (manned by legions of impeccably turned out, irrepressibly helpful and polite staff who still cling to the belief that the customer is always right), it retains elements of a bygone era. The hundred year old Saito family residence is a magnificent wooden building with formal gardens. A young visitor wearing a kimono was unaware that she had turned an ordinary photo of a garden into a watercolour work of art…
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The care and concern shown to us by the Japanese is beyond belief. For instance: we miscalculated our lunch bill in a backstreet family restaurant by just 50 cents and the waitress came flying down the street after us to give it back; we left our morning tea cups a quarter full when we went for a city tour and the maid carefully covered them with napkins so that we could finish them when we returned; and we watched as small sugary cakes called Po-po-yaki were made in Hakusan park in Niigata and this family absolutely insisted on sharing theirs with us…
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The major Japanese TV headlines are currently focussed on showing us where the cherry trees are blossoming, and we will soon be heading south to witness the great tide of blooms as they sweep northward across the country. The blooms are still a week away from Niigata, but Hakusan Park looked radiant in its verdant spring coat…
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This stone lantern in the park was erected in the early 18th century..
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Spring is a time of renewal in Japan; a time to count our blessings. It is also a time to buy a new car and take it to the Hakusan shrine to be blessed by the priest…
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Now we are catching the ferry from the main Japanese island of Honshu to the smaller island of Sado. We are leaving behind the glitz of upmarket Niigato and stepping back to a simpler time among the island's traditional fishermen and farmers. We wonder what welcome awaits us.

Posted by Hawkson 04:44 Archived in Japan

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Comments

A food picture! That's one big tempura shrimp. And is that Tom at the head of the sugar cake line?

by R and B

I see I am not the only one to miss the food pictures. Wish I was there with you in Japan. Lovely photos, you are not missing spring. Look forward to the next posting.

by Sue Fitzwilson

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