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The Niigata Sake no Jin is an annual festival held in Niigata City to celebrate the region’s famous Japanese sake. Niigata is popularly held to be the best rice in Japan, and since sake is made from rice, Niigata gets the Best Sake badge by default as well. As a sake lover, this is one awesome festival!

Last year we weren’t able to go because the day before was the Tohoku Earthquake. Even if we had wanted to go after that horrific event, the shinkansen were shut down and the festival cancelled. Because of that, we were anticipating a crowd for this year’s, but the reality was more people came than we had even imagined. It was AMAZINGLY crowded, and nowhere near as enjoyable as the last time we went, unfortunately. We will have to see about going to next year’s. But anyway, some pictures!


We took a mid-morning Shinkansen from Takasaki to Niigata City


Then stopped by a restaurant by the station for lunch before heading to the venue


SO CROWDED


SO SO CROWDED


Sampling some, and a super cute yuki-daruma shaped sake bottle! The tastings were really stingy this year… I think the sake venders were concerned about running out. That plus the million people made us decide really early to just buy a bottle and sit down somewhere


Yeah, these’ll work


Now let’s find a table! … if we can…


We finally found some people leaving (they actually called us over, how nice of them!) and sat down at a table of people who we, of course, immediately began talking and drinking with! I love meeting new people 😀


Want some of this one? Sure!


Cheers!


Before leaving, Kenji noticed some Nihon Buyo (Japanese dance) going on. I don’t remember this bit.


We headed back to the hotel, took a nap to sleep off some of the alcohol, then got up and went out to dinner at an interesting place!


The food was really good!


And the inside looked like a traditional Shitamachi street complete with… a fake cat hanging off the “roof”? Ooookaaaayyyy


Rainy weather.

(All pictures up to this point have been Kenji’s, btw). The next day we decided not to go back to the festival, and instead explore a little of the area. We decided to head to a tiny town called Yahiko at the end of the train line, since it looked like it had some interesting temples and shrines.


Local trains… far cry from the shinkansen!


Cool pic, Kenji!


It was chilly and rainy, unfortunately


It made the shrine look really nice though!


horsie!


In the rain


My only picture of Kenji this trip… I’m trying to be better about taking more pictures, especially pics of him! (Sorry Kenji!)


(Click to watch video) How nice and quiet and peaceful it was with the rain falling!


Ahhh, so nice.


The huge snow banks were really cool


Some of Kenji’s pictures


More of Kenji’s pictures


One of my favorites of Kenji’s pictures (are we sensing a theme?)


Back at the station to take the train back to Niigata, then the shinkansen back to Gunma.

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