If you're a fan of art, history, sport, or culture, the Ikeda Memorial Museum in Niigata's countryside is worth a visit. The picturesque grounds surrounding the museum include plenty of greenery, a pond complete with ducks and geese, and mountains off in the distance.
Inside the museum provides just as much of a treat for the senses as the outdoor grounds do. 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. There are items on display not just from the Tokyo 1964 Olympics, but the Games held in Melbourne, Australia (1956), Atlanta, USA (1996) and more.
On the museum premises there is also a small gift shop that offers paintings, prints, postcards and other souvenirs, and a cafe that serves up light refreshments including green tea and wagashi.
The Ikeda Memorial Museum is situated in Urasa, approximately 20 minutes on foot from Urasa Station itself.
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I'm an Australian who has lived abroad for almost a decade, including 7 years in Japan - specifically Tokyo and Niigata. I've visited 44 of 47 prefectures - with only Kagoshima, Miyazaki and Kumamoto left to check out. I'm particularly fond of exploring off the beaten path destinations, gardens, and tea houses, and have a real interest in Japan's growing vegan scene.