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Nou Museum of History and Folklore

Old-fashioned farmhouse exhibiting local farming tools and more This old farmhouse was relocated from the Nou Valley's Nakanoguchi district and renovated into a museum. Inside is an impressive collection of tools, goods and clothing once used by the people of the Nou Region. Admission Adults: 100 yen Under 18: 50 yen

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Chojagahara Archaeological Park

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 of the dwellings have been rebuilt as they might have appeared millennia ago.

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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.

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Kijiya Woodworking Village Museum

Preserving the story of a village of woodworkers Sitting along the road leading to Shiraike Pond and Renge Hot Springs, the mountain village of Kijiya once flourished as the center of a small woodworking and lacquerware industry. The people here harvested trees from the nearby mountains and created beautiful bowls, trays and other utensils which were highly prized in Itoigawa and beyond. This is even reflected in the village's name: "kijiya" means "woodworker" in Japanese. Unfortunately, in the 1930s cheaper imports from Asia began to become popular throughout Japan and many villages like Kijiya lost their livelihood. The local artisans were forced to give up their craft and instead pursue farming and forestry to make ends meet. The Kijiya Woodworking Village Museum seeks to preserve the story of these woodworkers and displays over 1,000 artifacts related to their work and livelihoods. Next to the museum, the 'Tochinoki' restaurant and produce shop sells locally made woodworking crafts to carry on the tradition of Kijiya Village. Make sure to try the soba noodles as well! Museum Admission Adults: 300 yen Under 18: 200 yen

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  • History and Culture

Mizuho Kannondo Temple

The Mizuho Kannondo Temple is a Buddhist temple that is said to have been founded in the 8th or 9th century. The temple has been rebuilt several times in its history and the current building dates to 1768. The temple actually consists of two buildings. The larger building in front of the main gate is a worship hall used for conducting services and festival performances. Atop the hill behind the worship hall is the much smaller 'Kannon-do' where the temple's priceless wooden statue of the bodhisattva Kannon is kept. Kannon is a spiritual figure in Japanese Buddhism who is said to be the embodiment of compassion and mercy. It was carved sometime during the Fujiwara period (894 - 1285) from a single cherry tree and stands at a little over 1.5 meters in height. It is missing hands, but it is unclear whether this was part of the design or a result of damage. The statue is registered as a Nationally Important Cultural Property of Japan and is traditionally only displayed to the public once every 33 years. However, it is also displayed every May 1 during the Mizuho Spring Grand Festival. (※In the event of inclement weather, the statue may not be displayed)

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  • Nature and Best Views

Shiraike Pond Forest Park

Gorgeous Autumn Colors and Hiking Trails Shiraike Pond, located just above the community of Kijiya alongside the road to Renge Hot Springs, offers beautiful views of the mountains and trees reflected in its surface. Swamp lanterns growing around the trails are a sight to behold in early spring while in autumn the colors of the leaves cannot be beat!

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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

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  • Places and Activities

Itoigawa GeoStation GeoPal

Your first stop in the Itoigawa UNESCO Global Geopark! Itoigawa GeoStation GeoPal, on the first floor of Itoigawa Station, is features a variety of attractions for the entire family making it a great place to stop first on your visit to Itoigawa. At the Geopark Tourist Information Center, learn all about the fun and exciting things to see and experience in the Itoigawa UNESCO Global Geopark. Children will enjoy the play equipment including a Mt. Myojo-themed Slide and Kid's Climbing Wall. Make sure to visit us at the Tourist Information Counter for brochures and information about the Itoigawa area! Waiting for a connecting train? Why not visit the Kiha 52 Waiting Room which features an actual Kiha 52 diesel train which used to run along the Oito Line. In the Model Railroad Diorama Gallery, visitors can enjoy large model railroads of Itoigawa City, Tokyo and the Himekawa Gorge. You can even have a go at operating the model trains yourself!

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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.

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Salt Trail Museum

Museum dedicated to the Historic Salt Trail Located in a repurposed farm house deep in the heart of the Nechi Valley, this museum features a collection of over 2,100 items are on display here and include tools used by the 'bokka' porters who carried goods along the Salt Trail. These bokka were mostly peasant farmers of the Nechi Valley who made a living during the winter months by carrying large heavy packs loaded with salt and other goods bound for markets in Matsumoto. The collection of tools and other artifacts found here are registered as a Nationally Important Cultural Property of Japan.

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