There's no doubt that Japan is filled with a myriad of world-class museums - and ones which cater to just about any interest under the sun. If you're headed to Niigata Prefecture and wondering what museum options are available to you, here is a list of 10 worth visiting. They cover everything from science, to trains, to art, and more!
Niigata Science Museum
The Niigata Science Museum is an enjoyable and inexpensive place to visit for a day out, particularly if you have young children. The premises is spread out over several floors and has exhibits dedicated to space and the solar system, dinosaurs, robotics, flora and fauna, and more. Many of these exhibits have interactive components, too. You're able to examine bacteria and bugs with microscopes, get a grasp on the the laws of physics through play, and check out fossils and other relics from times gone by.
3 Chome-1-1 Meikeminami, Chuo Ward, Niigata, 950-0948
Niitsu Railway Museum
The Niitsu Railway Museum was opened back in 1983, and pays homage to the long-standing connection this region of Japan has with all things trains. There are various train carriages on display that you can explore up close, including shinkansens through to steam locomotives, and plenty of exhibits outlining the history of rail development in the area.
2 Chome-5-6 Niitsuhigashicho, Akiha Ward, Niigata, 956-0816
Echigo-Tsumari Satoyama Museum of Contemporary Art, KINARE
Tokamachi is right in the heart of Niigata's snow country, and the region is a hub for some incredible activities for culture vultures. The Echigo-Tsumari Satoyama Museum of Contemporary Art (KINARE) is home to some fantastic contemporary art pieces, including works from big names in the field like Leandro Erlich. The venue here also serves as 'home base' for the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial, which is a must-visit art event if you can time it right.
1-chome-71-2 Honchorokuno, Tokamachi, Niigata 948-0003
Tomioka White Museum
The Tomioka White Museum is situated in Minamiuonuma, a region of Niigata Prefecture which is often referred to as yukiguni, or snow country. It's rather fitting then that the works here depict snowy regions of the world, from right here in Japan through to parts of China and Alaska. The pieces here were created by Soichiro Tomioka, who even developed his own brand of paint named Tomioka White in order to paint the snow covered landscapes that are characteristic of this part of Japan.
142 Kamiyakushido, Minamiuonuma, Niigata 949-7124
Ikeda Memorial Museum
If you're a fan of art, history, sport, or culture, the Ikeda Memorial Museum in Niigata's countryside is worth a visit. There are a large number of paintings, many of which are produced by local artists and depict local sights and scenery. There is also a hall dedicated to photography, rooms with hanging scrolls and textiles on display, and even works by local school students. One of the most unique exhibits at the museum is their collection of sporting memorabilia. There's everything from sumo handprints to signed baseballs and jerseys, and even pieces from previous Olympic Games.
5493-3 Urasa, Minamiuonuma, Niigata 949-7302
Niigata Prefectural Museum of Modern Art
Located in Nagaoka, the Niigata Prefectural Museum of Modern Art has an impressive collection of both Japanese and Western modern art pieces. They also have some great limited-time events, which have even included Disney Pixar exhibitions. It's well worth checking their website before your intended visit to see if any of the special exhibitions interest you - they typically come with an additional fee.
3 Chome-278-14 Senshu, Nagaoka, Niigata 940-2083
Northern Culture Museum
The Northern Culture Museum comprises what was once a massive estate belonging to the Ito family, who were the wealthiest landowners in Echigo (modern-day Niigata Prefecture). There are numerous examples of Meiji-period architecture to appreciate here including thatched-roof buildings and stately homes, along with some stunning gardens to enjoy. There are cherry blossoms and wisteria that bloom in spring, lotuses in summer, and incredible fall foliage during autumn.
2 Chome-15-25 Soumi, Konan Ward, Niigata, 950-0205
Shirone Kite Museum
The Shirone area of Niigata has an interesting history with kites. Back in the mid 1800's, residents of Shirone were celebrating the end of a construction project to reinforce the banks of the nearby Nakanokuchi River and accidentally crashed a kite into a West Shirone field. The crash damaged a significant amount of the field's crops, and retaliation seemed like the only answer at the time. Residents of West Shirone decided to crash their own kite into the Shirone side of the river, and now there's an annual "kite fight" festival which is all in the name of fun. If you can't make it to the festival, the museum is a great substitute! There are various kites from both Japan and abroad, and adult admission is only 400 yen.
1770-1 Jogesuwanoki, Minami Ward, Niigata, 950-1214
Fossa Magna Museum
Itoigawa is known for jade, and at the Fossa Magna Museum you can learn all about where it comes from, how the Japanese archipelago was created, and even how planet Earth was formed. Almost all of the exhibits have English language translations on them, making it ultra-convenient for visitors who may not read Japanese.
1313 Ichinomiya, Itoigawa, Niigata 941-0056
Niigata Prefecture Manga and Anime Museum
The Niigata Prefecture Manga and Anime Museum definitely has a local touch - it introduces manga artists and anime creators with ties to the region. The museum also has a range of hands on activities that help visitors understand the processes behind developing anime and manga. The admission fee here is also very reasonable - just 200 yen for adults.
2 Chome-5-7 Yachiyo, Chuo Ward, Niigata, 950-0909