Niigata / Furumachi Town Guide
By day or by night, enjoy the charms of Furumachi, where the historical and the new come together and where the passing of time is more relaxed.
A guide introducing the shops around the Furumachi district.
Find your own hidden delights.
Niigata / Furumachi Town Guide
Niigata Island is a fan-shaped isle surrounded by the Shinano River and the Sea of Japan waterfront.
Furumachi is situated at the pivot of the fan.
Furumachi is the name of the district centered on Furumachi-dori Street, located on fan-shaped Niigata Island, surrounded by sea and river on the left bank of the Shinano River. The port of Niigata once prospered as a hub port for river and marine shipping and transport, and since ancient times it has been a melting pot for countless people, objects, and cultures. Within Niigata, Furumachi, home to the Kagai geisha district, has played a significant role in hospitality. In the Furumachi district, where streets that took shape in the first year of the Meireki era (1655) still remain today, you can sense the atmosphere of Niigata and its long history as a port town. The Niigata Furumachi Machi-Minato Information Center is a comprehensive information center offering advice about Niigata, with a focus on Furumachi.
The districts around Furumachi are numbered in order from the Hakusan Park (upstream) direction to downstream—so the lower the number, the more upstream. Furumachi-dori Street and some parts of Honcho-dori and Masayakoji Streets have covered arcades and malls, enabling shoppers to walk around without needing umbrellas in the snowy season. It’s definitely worth taking a walk.
The image on the left is a pictorial map from Kitaguni Ichiransha (Views of Lands of the North), drawn in 1831. The picture shows people coming and going in a shopping arcade with shoji screen doors, suggesting that arcades were present from that time.
A place of interaction for people, objects, and cultures—and a key location in the town of Niigata
The port of Niigata was formed around the 16th century as a hub for river and marine shipping and transport. Shipments from mountains and villages were carried here by river boats along the Shinano and Agano rivers, and cargo from the Sea of Japan was carried here by ships from all over Japan, including the Kitamae-bune shipping route.
In the first year of the Meiji era (1869), the town of Niigata started as one of Japan’s five open port cities and entered a new era of civilization. Over time, the town’s area expanded, and in 2007 it became a government-designated city. Although shipping of goods has changed to overland transport and the urban streetscape may have changed, the spirit of the port of Niigata, always accepting and welcoming of visitors, has not changed. Furumachi has inherited a long history as a pivotal location.
This is a computer-generated image of the port of Niigata during the Genroku period (1688–1704) of the Edo era. You can see that the town of Niigata, which was built in 1655, has almost the same streetscape as the area around Furumachi today. In 1697, about 3,500 cargo vessels called in to the port of Niigata. At the bottom right of the picture is the Susaki guard station, where the paperwork for each ship was received, while behind this was Mount Hiyori (Hiyoriyama), where the piloting of ships entering and exiting the port was performed. The compass stone is still present there today.
This is a bird's-eye view of Niigata City, drawn around 1938 by Hatsusaburo Yoshida. With the Okochi diversion channel completed and the banks of the Shinano River and the Bandai Bridge evident, the port of Niigata has retained its appearance up to the present day, aside from Bandai Island. After that, the Sekiya Diversion Channel was excavated, giving Niigata island its current shape.
Walking distance from Furumachi Cultural properties & scenic spots
This beautiful stone bridge with six arches is a beloved symbol of Niigata City. The original (first-generation) bridge was constructed in 1886, and the current (third-generation) Bandai Bridge was built in 1929.
弘化3(1846)This long-established restaurant first opened in 1846. Its three-story wooden construction is a highlight, and its seven buildings are nationally registered as important tangible cultural properties. Opening onto Furumachi-dori, it has a large gate leading to the main entrance, and in the evening visitors enjoy the spectacular atmosphere and scenery.
You’ll want to walk! Recommended street spots
明暦元年(Furumachi is home to many streets and alleys—here, many of the streets built in the first year of the Meireki era (1655) remain almost unchanged. Among these, Nabejaya-dori and Shirakabe-dori streets are recommended spots where you can really feel the atmosphere of Niigata's Kagai (geisha) district and old residential district.
The long-established Nabejaya restaurant faces onto this street, which runs between Furumachi-dori and Higashibori-dori Streets. There are many priceless wooden buildings, such as former geisha houses, and many restaurants here still use these buildings, creating an elegant streetscape.
Niigata's oldest restaurant, Ikinari-ya, adjoins the former Saito family residence on a street full of atmosphere, while the surrounding streets are home to the Northern Culture Museum of Niigata and the Niigata City Art Museum.