Wednesday, December 30, 2009


Of Interest: I have no idea
Lodging: yes, two hotels
Tourist Office: yes, outside
Restrooms: clean, both inside and outside the station
Accessibility: almost, but not quite. There are elevators to all tracks within the station, and an escalator leading out of the building
Int'l ATM: There is a post office on the road that lead straight away from the station

Naoetsu is on the edge of of a suburb of Joetsu City. It exists because apparently it is on the dividing line between JR East and JR West. There is not even a quickie Mart near the station. Thank God for vending machines.

The station itself is comfortable, nicely decorated with lots of places to sit.

The ride between Nagaoka and Naoetsu is pretty, most of the time the tracks hug the coast. Naoetsu is on the route to Toyama and Kanazawa. Local trains take two hours to get to Toyama while Express trains only take an hour because they only make one intermediate stop. Those express trains continue on to Kanazawa which is two hours away. Those express trains take a little less than two hours to come from Niigata City. Nagaoka, on the line to Niigata, is about an hour and a half away by local train.

The Joetsu Shinkansen is named after the city here, but it does not even come that close.

Sunday, December 27, 2009


Of Interest: multiple museums, downtown Nagaoka
Lodging: multiple, in all price ranges
Tourist Office: no, but maps of the town are available at the station
Int'l ATM: In the department store across the street
Internet Access: There is a single computer at the Int'l Center. Walk straight down the main street in front of the station to the Civic Center.
Accessibility: elevators at all train platforms

Nagaoka is a medium-sized city in the center of Niigata Prefecture. The city itself is inland, but a port village was incorporated into the municipal area in 2005.

The trains of the Joetsu Line head inland, most ending an hour and a half away at Echigo-Yuzawa station, a spa resort in the mountains, but some continue on into Gunma Prefecture. Both Echigo-Yuzawa and Nagaoka are also stops on the Joetsu Shinkansen. Naoetsu is also an hour and a half away, this time to the south.

There is no English on the signs in Nagaoka Station.

Friday, December 25, 2009


Of Interest: shopping, walkable river
Lodging: yes, but cheaper downtown
Internet Access: free in the station from 11 to 7
Tourist Office: outside the station, city information only
There are good restrooms in the malls attached to the station.

The area around the station is a major shopping area. The Shinano River is a 10-15 minute walk away. Downtown Niigata is another 15-20 minutes by foot. Downtown is very nice with lots of covered sidewalks. One of the arcades leads to the oldest park in Japan. An arcade the opposite direction leads to a street of temples.

These kinds of arcades are common in towns along the inland sea that borders Honshu to the north and west. The arcades make walking possible as these are the wettest parts of Japan. In particular, Niigata Prefecture is known for heavy snowfalls.

If you are visiting, I recommend getting a hotel downtown as they are cheaper than the ones near the station.

Niigata is the terminal station for the Joetsu Shinkansen which takes two to two and a half hours to get here. There are also there are also four express trains daily to Kanazawa. Multiple trains travel within Niigata Prefecture. Shibata is 25 minutes north by local train. Most trains head south. Nagaoka, a major transfer point, is 25 minutes by Shinkansen and and hour and fifteen minutes by regular train. The trip to Yoshida is 45 minutes.

To head north out of Niigata, go to Niitsu and change trains.

Note: Some platforms only have signs in kana, the Japanese phonetic script.

Sunday, December 20, 2009


Of Interest: walkable town, solar energy research (not open to the public)
Lodging: no
Tourist Office: no
Int'l ATM: on the road to the right just beyond the curve
Restrooms: not good
The station is handicapped accessible.

The war between strip mall and cozy downtown, between car and train culture is active in Sakamachi. The town has the potential to be a really cool place if the chain stores don't strangle it.

Sakamachi is a major train depot within Niigata Prefecture. Sakamachi is forty minutes from Niigata by limited express. The trip takes an hour by regular train and you have to change at Shibata. Trains to Yonezawa take two to two and a half hours.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


Of Interest: local beef
Lodging: ?
Tourist Office: yes, excellent but most of the pamphlets are in Japanese only

Yonezawa is a car-oriented town, and is not comfortable to walk around. There is historical park about thirty minutes from the station. It contains a history museum, a shinto shrine, and a local products store. There are a couple of restaurants serving local dishes here.

Yonezawa is famous for its local beef which is often served raw. It is good, but expensive. Yonezawa apples are also famous.

The city is two hours and fifteen minutes from Tokyo by Shinkansen. The Shinkansen takes thirty five minutes to get to Fukushima while the local trains take forty five minutes. Both trains use the same tracks; local trains take longer because they make more stops. You can also take a local train to the west coast at Sakamachi in Niigata Prefecture.

Friday, December 11, 2009

New address

This blog has a new web address at The blogspot address still works, though.

Google set up everything for me which makes me happy

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Of Interest: not much
Lodging: one hotel
Tourist Office: yes
Restrooms: Clean with toilet paper and soap
Int'l ATM: There is post office a five to ten minute walk from the station

Kesennuma Station is in a suburban area of Kesunnuma City. As such very little is within walking distance. The city is known for commercial fishing and for seaside tourism. The harbor may be in walking distance for someone who likes long walks.

Two JR lines serve Kesennuma Station. The Kesennuma line, which starts here, follows the coast for most of its journey before heading inland to end at Kogota, Miyagi. Kesennuma is in the middle of the Ofunato Line which runs from Sakari, Ofunato, Iwate to Ichinoseki in Iwate. Both routes are scenic although the Ofunato line from Kesennuma is entirely inland.