Wonders of the Itoigawa UNESCO Global Geopark

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Time: 4 - 6 hrTransportation: Car or TaxiChallenge Level: ★★☆☆

Discover the secrets hidden in the mountains surrounding Itoigawa on this journey deep into the heart of the Itoigawa UNESCO Global Geopark.

  1. START
  2. Itoigawa Station

    Itoigawa Station
    10 min

    If you are visiting with a valid Japanese license or an International Driving Permit, you can rent a car at the JR Rent-A-Car office on the second floor of the adjoining Jade Kingdom Center (Hisui Oukokukan). Reserving a car in advance is not only a good way to be sure a car will be available for you, but also gives you a discount on the usual rental price!

    If you'd rather someone else handle the driving, ask at the Tourist Information Center about the Ekikara Kantakun Sightseeing Taxi Service available from JR West. These discounted taxi tours are a great and affordable way to explore the Itoigawa UNESCO Global Geopark! Visit the Itoigawa GeoStation GeoPal Information Center by the South Exit (Alps Exit) of Itoigawa Station for more information!


    Nearby Attractions

    ・ Amatsu Shrine ・ Itoigawa Museum of History & Folklore ・ För no Hanare ・ Old Takano Photo Studio

  3. Miyama Park & Museums (Fossa Magna Museum)

    Miyama Park & Museums (Fossa Magna Museum)
    40 min

    Miyama Park sits on a 100 meter high river terrace overlooking central Itoigawa City and the Himekawa River Valley. This large public park features an observation tower, multiple gardens, sports facilities, an archaeological park and two museums.

    The Fossa Magna Museum is the Information Center of the Itoigawa UNESCO Global Geopark, making it the perfect place to start your journey. Learn more about the role Itoigawa played in the formation of the Japanese Islands and why the land here is considered a globally significant part of our geological heritage. The museum also features a dazzling collection of Itoigawa Jade as well as collections of unusual minerals and fossils collected from around the world.

    At the Chojagahara Archaeological Museum, learn about the ancient Jomon people who lived here in prehistoric times and the unique jadeworking culture they founded, the oldest jade culture in the world!

  4. Kotakigawa Jade Gorge

    Kotakigawa Jade Gorge
    10 min

    Nestle deep in the mountains of Itoigawa is the small community of Kotaki. On the surface, it would appear to be little more than a few quaint hamlets scattered in the foothills beneath the Japanese Alps, but hidden further in the upper reaches of the Kotaki River at the base of Mt. Myojo lies the Kotakigawa Jade Gorge, Japan's largest source of jade. In this large limestone gorge, massive boulders of jade rest in the bed of the Kotaki River as they have for millennia.

    Lost for centuries to history, this natural wonder was rediscovered in 1939. Since 1956 it has been preserved as a National Natural Monument of Japan.

    Note: The collection of rocks, minerals, plants or animals from the Kotakigawa Jade Gorge and surrounding environs is strictly prohibited by law.

  5. Takanami-no-Ike Pond

    Takanami-no-Ike Pond
    30 min

    This pond located in the hills above the Kotakigawa Jade Gorge, is a popular recreation spot for local residents and visitors alike! Enjoy beautiful walking trails around the pond or even spend the night at the adjoining campground! The local people of Kotaki have set up a small gift shop and restaurant for visitors, offering a variety of local flavors to sample. It's a great place to have lunch and relax before heading back down the mountain.

  6. Fossa Magna Park

    Fossa Magna Park
    10 min

    On your way back from the mountains, stop by the Fossa Magna Park, where you can seen an exposed section of the massive fault line that splits Japan in two. Learn more about how the Japanese Islands were formed and the amazing forces which created the natural beauty abundant in Itoigawa.


    Nearby Attractions

    ・ Watanabe Sake Brewery ・ The Salt Trail

  7. Itoigawa Station

  8. After Your Trip

    Return your car or take your taxi back to Itoigawa Station, back in plenty of time to enjoy a seaside dinner or window shopping. Looking to spend a bit more time exploring Itoigawa? Book a room at one of the many hotels or minshuku guesthouses located near Itoigawa Station and wake up well-rested for your next adventure!