Skip to main content

Top Stops Along the Joetsu Shinkansen

There are four trains that run from Tokyo to Niigata: Max Toki, Max Tanigawa, Toki, and the Tanigawa. The total trip from both stations is about two hours. The stations starting from Tokyo are as follows: Ueno,Omiya,Kumagaya, Honjowaseda, Takasaki, Jomo-Kogen,Echigo-Yuzawa, Urasa, Nagaoka, Tsubamesanjo, and the last stop Niigata!



Now, if you have a car and prefer to drive then I highly recommend taking the Kanetsu Expressway. You don't want to miss out on an opportunity to drive through the Kanetsu Tunnel, the longest and most used tunnel in Japan! I think it's also the longest and most technologically advanced tunnel in the world. Before this tunnel was built, the average commute time around this mountain range was about 4 hours! Now it only takes less than 30 minutes to get through.  Not everybody has a car though, so the train is the next best option.  I've tried both.  By train you you give up a lot of scenery because of the speed at which you'd be traveling.   Everything is just a blur from the window.



Before I plunge in, let me make a quick mention about Takasaki station, the sixth stop on this line. First off, this is a major major connection stopover for about nine different lines!  In other words, a regional transportation hub. Here is the list: Joetsu Line, Shinetsu Line, Takasaki Line, Nagano Shinkansen, Joetsu Shinkansen, Hachiko Line, Agatsuma Line, Joshin Line, Ryomo Line.  People in transit from all over Japan stop over at this station juncture to make their connections, and then continue on to their destination.


The train station itself is located in Gunma, and is ran by JR East.   Gunma is one of my favorites prefectures, too! I love the onsen, the food, girls and it's the home of Yasuhiro Nakasone, former prime minister. Let me also not forget the Daruma Doll!  I want to post pics but won't this time around.



As we move along this line after passing Kumagaya and Honjowaseda, then past Takasaki, if you have a chance to get off there then do, and moving along past Jomo-Kogen to a big stop called Echigo-Yuzawa, you finally start to get a taste of the Hokuriku region of Japan.  Now this station for me is the station of all stations on this line because there's a real 100% onsen in the station that has nihonshu added to it! But be forewarned the water is extremely hot.    Last time I took a dip in that bath it was about 45degrees centigrade.   If you are a seasoned dipper like me then this temperature is not too bare able.  


Generally people prefer to sit in water that's at around 37 degrees centigrade, which is about body temperature. After a nice dip, head over to the sake tasting room. Give the attendent a thousand yen, she/he will give you ten tokens in return. Walk around and sample over one hundred different sake for every one token. Afterwards, you can head over to the souvenir shop and purchase a designer sake cup and some delicious nihonshu cake with gold pieces in them. It's like a Disneyland for sake related products. If you would rather eat out, then just across the street there is a place called Fukuan, which specializes in Soba and delicious tempura, and of course delicious sake! If you would like a nicer and more relaxing onsen experience then I recommend Hotel Sporea which is very near by the way. You can walk there from the station, but I recommend a taxi if you feel a bit nervous.



Of course skiing is always wonderful up here also. You have the GALA Yuzawa Snow Resort, which is 800m above sea level and is connected directly to the station. Two different stations. GALA YUZAWA STATION can be reached from Echigo Yuzawa Station via the Gala Yuzawa line. (1.8km)
Passing Urasa station, as we climb further up in elevation to our next stop is Nagaoka. I love this part of Niigata for a few good reasons. One the love hotels are very cheap and very nice. The chain sushi shops sell the freshest catches. I mean real generous portion sizes of sushi as well as an assorted array of seasonal catches. I'm never disappointed when I come to this area. I always love camping up around here as well. And in the daytime, usually by reservation only, you can tour a few really good sake brewery's. Nagaoka is also home to some exceptionally delicious sake. If you can spend a day up here just hanging around I would.


Next fantastic stop is Tsubamesanjo station, which connects to the Yahiko Line that was named after a small isolated rural village called Yahiko Village.    Nice if you want to experience something different.


Now the only reason I stopped through Tsubamesanjo was because of one very famous sushi shop, no other reason. The shop is called Tsubame-sushi-ya san, and it's very popular with the locals. Here the lines were very long, the longest I could remember from any other sushi shop. One thing I noticed was at how warm the fish were. The sushi guy was pulling the fish right out of the crates they were shipped in and cutting them right there in front us. The fish had no time to be iced at all, some were still moving. I ordered the chef's special and boy what a treat that was. I had never eaten fish that fresh before in my life! And the sake! Ooh, god! Very cold nama sake produced by Kirinzan. Two pics are at the bottom.


The last and final stop along this line is Niigata station and from here you can connect to Echigo Line, Shinetsu Line, Hakushin Line, Ban-etsu-West Line. This is the best all around station in terms of convenience I think. They have a Toyuku Inn attached alongside the station which came in handy when I missed my last stop back to Fukushima. There are many restaurants and souvenir shops here also.

Popular posts from this blog

Shin-Okubo: Little Korea

So I finally got around to going up there to Shin-Okubo,  the land of Seoul via the Yamanote Line.  Been putting this trip off for years for personal reasons;  I am not a fan of Hanlleyu.      I knew why I came up this way, and for none other reason than the food, and maybe to bask in the nausea of Korean romanticist who steal Japanese Jukujo's souls.    But honestly, I like spicy food and stews and pickled vegetables that challenge my taste buds.    I also love the little funky cafes that line the main thoroughfares and alley ways, each with their own little eclectic menus and interior decor.     This place is Korea.  





Shin-Okuba represents more than just a place to relish in Korean culinary delights and K-pop culture, but a place where Koreans can express themselves through their culture.    You can feel the local vibe in the air as you're walking down narrow walkways and footpaths.    I have personally been to mainland Korea six times, so a lot of the nostalgia was there …

August: The Return of Souls

August is peak summer season in Japan.  We can look forward to some of the most spectacular fireworks displays and festivals in the world, especially  in places like Tohoku and Kanto regions.  August is also  the most contentious month of the year in Japan; with the end of the war and war-related guilt.    Then there's the great exodus back home for millions of Japanese.   Obon season is what it's called in Japan, and it's  where families return to their hometowns to remember their ancestors and to spend time with loved ones.  Gravestones are visited, cleaned, and washed; rice or alcohol is often placed on  miniature altars next to a  headstone.  This is a way for Japanese to reconnect with their roots; a way for them to stay grounded and founded in the ways of tradition and cultural protocol.   

For the foreign tourist, some places will be overcrowded and expensive to reach; for Japanese, this is normal and can't be helped.   Wherever you go there will be lines and h…

Japan Board of Education: Amazing Grace...?

Japan Board of Education Textbook.
Amazing Grace
Shuken Shuppan  Polestar textbook English Communication

Preface:  Japanese / Japan is  one of the leading donors in humanitarian aid around the world.   They have donated billions of yen to charities, developing countries, and startup business to just about every country on the globe.  Some Japanese have even taken matters to the extreme  to the point of poking their noses into hotspot areas like Palestine and Isreal, things the Japanese may want to avoid.  Had Japan shared its borders with an ethnic minority with its own government, the relative peace and calm of this country would be questionable.   No other country can be like nor emulate Japan.   So, where does this spirit of charity and altruism come from exactly?   Why do the Japanese feel they need to save the whole world, while caring very little for its own people?   It's the Board of Education...?  The essay below is one such example of what Japanese kids learn in school,…