My first memory of Echigo Yuzawa Station was one of excitement. We had just gotten off the shinkansen and made our way through the ticket gates out into the station's indoor market area and I became giddy at the warm lighting, incredible array of stalls and the ambience of this most pleasant of countryside stations.
Getting here is easy courtesy of a 90-minute Joetsu Shinkansen ride from Tokyo. And when you do arrive, there is an immediate feeling of warmth and congeniality. Perhaps it is the local products that fill the station's stalls? Or perhaps it's the soothing lighting and the dark wooden beams and frames? More likely a combination of it all.
Known as CoCoLo Yuzawa Tourist Life Plaza, this shopping precinct features a centre aisle called Gangi-dori. Here, you'll find about ten or so stalls offering Niigata Prefecture's famous, among many things, sansai mountain vegetables, koshihikari rice, hegi-soba and sake rice wine. Sake aficionados will be particularly taken by Ponshukan, the station's sake tasting hall located at the far end of the shopping precinct.
Outside of the ticket gates, to the left of Gangi-dori lies a series of restaurants featuring some exquisitely lovely tasting foods. On the corner lies a fantastic dipping ramen bar with some very nice tasting noodles. Further along you'll find both a rice bowl bar and a sushi restaurant where only Niigata's famous koshikhikari rice is used. A hegi-soba restaurant also features followed by a couple of cafes and a great fried pork-cutlet on rice katsu-don restaurant.
In spite of its relatively convenient size, I've never stopped enjoying my visits here. Before you realise it, you discover that you've just spent an hour or so wandering the stalls and restaurants. A great little place, CoCoLo Yuzawa is the perfect introduction to Echigo Yuzawa.