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  • 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.

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  • History and Culture
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Aramachi Wisteria Festival

Wisteria flowers blooming in a historic community The community of Aramachi has long had a fascination with wisteria flowers. The nearby Tsukimizu-no-Ike Pond has been famous for its wild wisteria for centuries. What started as a private practice of growing ornamental wisteria flowers blossomed over time into a full-fledged festival, with dozens of wisteria flowers blooming on either side of Aramachi's Main Street. Each plant is cared for by local residents who use the festival to showcase their work. The flowers are judged and awarded medals, which the residents proudly display. The festival starts in early May and runs for about two weeks. While the exact timing of the blooms varies from year to year, the time around the 10th of May is usually the best time to enjoy them.

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Nou Hakusan Shrine Spring Grand Festival

Centuries Old Dances in the Light of the Setting Sun  The Nou Hakusan Shrine Spring Grand Festival (Nou Festival) is held every April 24th at Nou Hakusan Shrine in Itoigawa City's Nou Region. It began in the 15th century and centers around 11 bugaku, a type of ceremonial Japanese court dance.  The festival starts with the Shishimai or Lion's Dance. Two men dressed as mythological lion dance around in front of the festival procession as it makes its ways into and around the shrine grounds.  Starting around noon, the festival explodes with energy as the Running of the Shrines begins. Three mikoshi portable shrines are carried on the backs of teams of young men who run them in circles around the shrine grounds to ceremonial music.  As the atmosphere calms following the Running of the Shrines, the first bugaku dancers take the stage. 11 different bugaku court dances are performed by adults and children, some as young as 4. These dances culminate in the dramatic 'Ryo'o-no-Mai' dance performed in the light of the setting sun.

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  • History and Culture
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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.

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  • History and Culture

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    

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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!

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Sea of Japan Sunset Lookout

Panoramic views of Itoigawa's Sea, Downtown and Mountains Itoigawa Station is the closest shinkansen station to the Sea of Japan, and this is the perfect place to see it! Use the pedestrian underpass to cross the highway and climb the steps to enjoy panoramic views of the Sea of Japan and Itoigawa. On clear days, you can see as far as Noto Peninsula and even Sado Island! It's also a great location to see the Japanese Alps that tower over the city to the south.

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  • History and Culture

The Salt Trail (Matsumoto Road)

Beautifully Preserved Section of the Ancient Matsumoto Road The Matsumoto Road, also known as the Salt Trail, was used in ancient times to transport salt and maritime products from Itoigawa to what is now Nagano Prefecture and Matsumoto City. Salt was vitally important in those days for preserving food to survive the harsh winters, especially for the people of Nagano, so this trade route was kept open for porters who carried their loads by foot or by oxen, even at the height of war between the two provinces. The section of the Salt Trail in Itoigawa's Ōno district is exceptionally well-preserved, showing the unique U-shaped road as it appeared when it was in use. It's a perfect place to slip back in time while enjoying a relaxing hike. Eagle-eyed travelers along this ancient trail will be able to spot a number of ancient sculptures, temples and other remnants of the old road.

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  • Hands-on Experiences

Jade Gorge Fishing Park

Mountain Stream Fishing by the Kotakigawa Jade Gorge Just a minute drive from the Kotakigawa Jade Gorge, this fishing park is a popular place to enjoy trout and char fishing with friends and family! Rent a pole, basket and bait and get fishing!  There are cleaning areas and fire pits available so you can enjoy your catch right here in the park! Want to enjoy some fresh trout, but not into fishing? Don't worry! You can order freshly grilled trout, too! ■Max Occupancy: 30 Rental & Other Fees: ・Fishing: 2,200 yen (Up to 5 fish) ・Grilling: 100 yen per fish Freshly Caught & Grilled Fish: ・Salt-grilled Trout: 500 yen

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  • Nature and Best Views

Omigawa Jade Gorge

 A National Natural Monument. Massive boulders of pristine white jade. The Omigawa Jade Gorge is a National Natural Monument where over 40 large boulders of pristine raw jade can be found. The Omigawa Jade Gorge is not as easily accessible as the Kotakigawa Jade Gorge, so be prepared to hike a little bit. The sheer size and beauty of the jade boulders here make it worth it! The Omigawa and Kotakigawa Jade Gorges are the two largest jade deposits in Japan. The jade in these gorges are considered national treasures and visitors are welcome to explore, touch and even climb on the jade boulders here.  The Omigawa Jade Gorge is a National Natural Monument of Japan The collection, damage or abuse of minerals, plants or animals is strictly prohibited. We ask for you cooperation in preserving our natural and cultural heritage for all to enjoy.

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