MENU

History and Culture

Select Categories

  • Places and Activities Places and Activities
  • Places and Activities Hands-on Experiences
  • Places and Activities History and Culture
  • Places and Activities Nature and Best Views
  • Places and Activities
  • History and Culture

Chojagahara Archaeological Museum

At the Center of the World's Oldest Jadeworking Culture The Chojagahara Archaeological Site was the site of a number of massive settlements over 5,000 to 3,500 years ago. The people who lived in these settlements collected jade from the nearby rivers and coast. Recognizing its durability and beauty, they used it in the crafting of tools and jewelry, eventually devloping into the first example of jadeworking known in the world. Today, the Chojagahara Archaeological Site is recognized as one of the largest neolithic sites in Japan's Hokuriku Region and is registered as a National Historic Site of Japan. The Chojagahara Archaeological Site is massive and it is estimated that not even 10% has been unearthed. A few dwellings have been reconstructed as an archaeological park nearby, while the Chojagahara Archaeological Museum houses a massive collection of pottery, beads and other historical artifacts unearthed at the site and similar sites around Itoigawa. ◆Chojagahara Archaeological Museum  Adults: 300yen  Joint Admission with Fossa Magna Museum: 600yen  100yen discount for groups of 20 or more  Children (18 and under): Free ◆Chojagahara Archaeological Park   Free

more
  • Places and Activities
  • History and Culture

Tanimura Art Museum & Gyokusuien Gardens

Buddhist Artwork, Traditional Japanese Gardens & Modern Architecture The Gyokusuien Gardens opened in 1981. Designed by acclaimed landscape architect Kinsaku Nakane, the gardens use the natural background to evoke a scene of two rivers flowing from the mountains in a serene, secluded setting. Enjoy viewing the gardens from the adjoining tea house or the hillside pavilion. Beside the gardens, the Tanimura Art Museum opened in 1983. The museum features the Buddhist artwork of wood sculptor Seiko Sawada who is considered by many to be Japan's greatest modern sculptor of Buddhist artwork. Even the museum itself is a masterpiece of modern architecture designed by renowned architect Togo Murano. It was among the last buildings he designed before his passing and is considered a perfect example of Murano's personal style of Brutalist architecture. Travel along the corridor on a pilgrimage from the profane to the sacred and cleanse your mind and soul in this truly unique museum. ◆Tanimura Art Museum & Gyokusuien Gardens  Adults: 500yen  18 and under: 300yen ◆Joint Admission with Hisuien Gardens  Adults: 800yen  18 and under: 500yen

more
  • History and Culture
  • Nature and Best Views

Cliffs of Oyashirazu & Oyashirazu Community Road

'Tenka no Ken' - 'The Most Dangerous Crossing Under Heaven' The Cliffs of Oyashirazu were once known as the most dangerous crossing of the Hokuriku Road. In ancient times, crossing these cliffs meant taking your life into your own hands while inching between the rocky cliffs and the stormy sea. Over time, these perilous cliffs came to be known as 'Tenka no Ken' which means 'The Most Dangerous Crossing Under Heaven.' In the late 19th century, the first modern road was carved along these cliffs. This narrow, winding road was the only way to get around the cliffs for many years, until it was replaced by the current National Route 8. Today, the old road has been made into a scenic walk and renamed the Oyashirazu Community Road. From Oyashirazu Community Road, see the 4 generations of roads that have been built to conquer these cliffs while enjoying the spectacular views they afford. Below Oyashirazu Community Road, the remains of the Old Hokuriku Main Line, the first railroad to pass through these cliffs, can be seen. One of the tunnels has been preserved and is open to the public.

more
  • History and Culture

Nanasha Shrine & Gohyaku Rakan

Nestled on a quiet forested hillside next to Hisuien Gardens, Nanasha Shrine is not a particularly large shrine, but it hides a few surprising secrets. Next to the shrine's worship hall sits Rakan-do, a small Buddhist Shrine housing the Gohyaku Rakan or '500 Arhats.' These myriad stone statues were hand-carved in the early 1800s by Gyokusui, head priest of the nearby (now-defunct) Shozenji Temple. After 10 years of carving, he had amassed a collection of 555 statues which can be seen today. The statues are said to represent the disciples of Gautama Buddha and legend says that if you meditate upon them long enough, you will find your own face among the carvings.

more
  • Places and Activities
  • History and Culture

Nou Hakusan Shrine

Maritime Shrine with 2000 Years of History While its exact date of founding is lost to history, shrine records state that Nou Hakusan Shrine was founded over 2000 years ago during the reign of Emperor Sujin, 10th emperor of Japan. The current main sanctuary (honden) of Hakusan Shrine was built in 1515 and is a Nationally Registered Important Cultural Property. The shrine contains a number of relics of Hakusan Worship and is a bridge to the Nou Region's ancient history. The Itsukushima Shrine on nearby Benten Rock is considered a satellite shrine of Hakusan. Despite being dedicated to Shinto worship, the shrine also houses several important Buddhist relics, a remnant of the time when the lines between these two religions were blurred. The nearby Nou Museum of History and Folklore features a collection of tools and other artifacts from Nou's history. Sacred Water of Nou Hakusan Shrine Located behind the large worship hall is a sacred spring which flows from Mt. Oyama. This water is particularly delicious and is a popular source of drinking water for the locals. Spring Grand Festival The shrine's largest festival is held every year on April 24th. It features bugaku court dancing passed down over the centuries. This performance is unique to Hakusan Shrine and is registered as a National Cultural Property.

more
  • History and Culture
  • Nature and Best Views

Benten-iwa Rock

Sacred Rock and Symbol of the Nou Region This massive rock looms over the Nou Coast next to Route 8. Long worshiped by local sailors as a manifestation of the goddess of the sea, the lighthouse atop the rock continues to act as an important guide to safe harbor. The rock itself was formed at the bottom of the sea by an underwater volcano. The Akebonobashi Bridge connects the rock to shore and a small shrine on the rock is dedicated to Ichikushima, the goddess of the sea.

more
  • Places and Activities
  • History and Culture

Gyofu Souma House

Traditional Itoigawa-style Townhouse and Birthplace of Famed Poet Gyofu Souma This old-fashioned machiya-style townhouse was the home of Gyofu Souma, an Itoigawa-born scholar, poet and lyricist who left a lasting impression on modern Japanese literature. He is best known today for having written hundreds of school songs in his lifetime, including the song of his alma mater, the internationally renowned Waseda University in Tokyo. His house is preserved as it was when he lived in it and contrains a number of exhibits on his life. It is also an excellent example of Itoigawa's version of the machiya, a type of house once commonly seen in urban areas throughout Japan in the 19th and early 20th centuries.

more
  • Places and Activities
  • History and Culture
  • All Seasons

Itoigawa Museum of History & Folklore

Collection of artifacts and artwork from Itoigawa's History Also known as the Gyofu Souma Memorial Hall, this museum's impressive collection of artifacts largely come from the private collection of the late local poet and scholar, Gyofu Souma. In addition to his writings and belongings, the collection includes artifacts collected from Gyofu's research into Itoigawa's history and the Niigata-born poet-monk Ryokan. The collection is so large that it cannot all be displayed at once, so the contents on display are always changing. Contact us for information about upcoming exhibits!

more
  • History and Culture
  • Spring

Itoigawa Fighting Festival

Fighting Shrines Officially known as the Amatsu Shrine Spring Grand Festival, this festival can be seen every April 10 & 11 at Amatsu Shrine, a short walk from Itoigawa Station. Centuries old, the festival is held to pray for a bountiful harvest and good catch of fish in the year ahead. The festival's popular name, the Itoigawa Fighting Festival, comes from the stirring omikoshi fight held in the morning of April 10 between two teams representing the local districts of Teramachi and Oshiage. Carrying 600 kilogram omikoshi shrines, the teams chase each other around the shrine grounds, clashing their shrines together in a dramatic display of strength. The shrines are often damaged in the fray as nearby spectators run for cover. After roughly an hour of fighting, the shrines are brought before the priest who is said to consult with the local gods to determine the winning team. It is said that the two shrines represent male and female gods, and so the fighting of the shrines is not really fighting, but a display of fertility which blesses the participants with large, prosperous families. It is also said that the winning district predicts the season ahead: if Oshiage wins, it will be a good catch of fish, if Teramachi wins it will be a bountiful harvest. Bugaku Court Dances As the dust settles and the crowds calm, the attention moves to the large stage in the middle of the shrine grounds. On this stage, local children and adults perform 10 ancient bugaku dances. Bugaku are special, elegant dances which were traditionally held at events hosted by the Imperial Court or at important temples and shrines. The unique bugaku dances performed during the Amatsu Shrine Spring Grand Festival have been handed down over the centuries by local families and today are recognized as a Nationally Important Cultural Folk Property. Don't miss an opportunity to experience the powerful elegance of this ancient tradition. April 10 April 11 10:30 a.m. Arrival of the Gods 1:00 p.m. Bugaku Court Dances 11:00 a.m. Running of the Shrines 5:30 p.m. Festival End 11:30 a.m. Fighting of the Shrines     12:30 p.m. Running of the Shrines     1:00 p.m. Bugaku Court Dances     5:30 p.m. Festival End    

more
  • History and Culture
  • All Seasons

Amatsu Shrine

Amatsu Shrine is said to have been founded during the reign of Emperor Keikō, about 2000 years ago. The shrine is dedicated to the god Amenigishi-Kuninigishi-Amatsuhiko-Hiko-Ho-no-Ninigi-no-Mikoto  (or Ninigi for short!) Ninigi was the grandson of the sun goddess, Amaterasu. After the celestial kami took control of Japan from the terrestrial kami, Ninigi sent by his grandmother to establish a dynasty and plant the first rice fields. For this reason, worship of Ninigi is often closely related to the harvest. Amatsu Shrine's haiden--or worship hall--features an impressive thatched roof, typical of those seen in Japan's snowy region. The steeply pitched roofs allow the snow to naturally fall off the roof, preventing it from collapsing under the weight. Thatched roofs require regular maintenance and must be rethatched every few years, an expensive and time-consuming process, so it is rare to see buildings still using thatching in Modern Japan. Behind the worship hall is the main sanctuary--or honden--of Amatsu Shrine. It is flanked to the left by Nunagawa Shrine, dedicated to the worship of local goddess Princess Nunkawa and her husband, Ōkuninushi-no-Mikoto. Each April 10 and 11, Amatsu Shrine holds its Spring Grand Festival, the Itoigawa Kenka Matsuri--Itoigawa Fightinf Festival--in which two portable omikoshi shrines are rammed together in a display of strength and bravery.

more
1 / 212