Sep 052016
 

In response to the recent damage caused by Typhoon Mindulle, we have updated our homepage to make it easier for you to plan your visit to the Itoigawa UNESCO Global Geopark. Each page for the individual geosites now show whether there are any road closures or other restrictions affecting access to the area.

Areas without any restrictions display as below:
Ichiburi

The Ichiburi Geosite is fully accessible to visitors!

Areas experiencing road closures or other conditions which restrict access to parts of the geosite display like this:

imai

Parts of the Imai Geosite are currently closed

Finally, geosites which are completely closed, either due to road conditions or special restrictions, have the following notice:

maikomiThe Maikomidaira Geosite is normally inaccessible due to its location

If you would like more information about individual restrictions, please contact us by email at geopark@city.itoigawa.niigata.jp

We are continuing to improve our homepage to make your visit to the Itoigawa UNESCO Global Geopark as smooth and enjoyable as possible. If you have any comments or suggestions regarding our homepage, please let us know either by email or by commenting on our blog.


Jun 172016
 
Climbers hike along the ridge of Mt. Korenge

Climbers hike along the ridge of Mt. Korenge (2766 m)

The snow has finally been cleared and the gate to the Renge Geosite has been opened! Enjoy exploring the peak of the Itoigawa UNESCO Global Geopark this summer, starting with a visit to the Renge Lodge and Hot Springs.

Renge Lodge

Renge Lodge

And don’t just hang out at the lodge! Not when the outstanding beautiful Renge Hot Springs are out there to enjoy.

Renge Hot Springs - Yakushi-no-Yu 'Waters of the Healing Buddha'

Renge Hot Springs – Yakushi-no-Yu ‘Waters of the Healing Buddha’

Only a 5 – 10 minute hike from the lodge, the four outdoor baths at Renge Hot Springs are truly open baths. Located on the side of the mountain, there are no changing rooms here! Just strip off and enjoy the majesty of nature from a natural spring bath above the clouds.

Trek the vast wetlands of Heima-no-Taira

Trek the vast wetlands of Heima-no-Taira

In addition to trails up to the peak of Mt. Korenge and Mt. Shiroumadake, the region has many nature trails through forests and wetlands.

For more information about the Renge Geosite, check out our homepage or download our app Gururi Itoigawa for Android or iOS today!


Jun 032016
 

This weekend is an event-packed weekend at the Itoigawa UNESCO Global Geopark! Whether you’re visiting for our mountains or our sea, there’s something for you this Sunday!

The Itoigawa Fish Festival will be held on Sunday, June 5 from 9:30 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.

The Itoigawa Fish Festival will be held on Sunday, June 5 from 9:30 a.m. until 2:00 p.m.

Do you like seafood? Have you ever wanted to participate in a fish auction? Then you need to come down to the Itoigawa Fish Market (Map) at Port Himekawa this Sunday! Local fishermen will gather to share the very best of their catches at the 25th Annual Itoigawa Fish Festival. In addition to a stunning array of fresh, locally caught fish, visitors can enjoy a bluefish tuna cleaning demonstration, an amateur fish auction, and a variety of local foods and drinks including freshly grilled seafood! The festival runs until 2:00 p.m., but usually sells out early, so get here as soon as you can!

Visitors pack into the Itoigawa Fish Market to see the day's catch!

Visitors pack into the Itoigawa Fish Market to see the day’s catch!

Visitors enjoy festival food from trucks and stalls

Visitors enjoy festival food from trucks and stalls

 

A special retro bus will shuttle visitors from Itoigawa Station to the Fish Market, departing 8:30, 9:30, 10:30, 11:00, 12:00, 13:00.

If you’re more interested in Itoigawa’s mountains, then join us in the Umidani Gorge Geosite for the Spring Umidani Festival.

Mt. Senjogatake forms one wall of the Umidani Gorge

Mt. Senjogatake forms one wall of the Umidani Gorge

The Umidani Spring Festival celebrates the opening of Umidani Sankyo Park (Map) and its campground and many hiking trails. In addition to enjoying wild vegetables, local food and cultural demonstrations, visitors are invited to join in the opening climb of Mt. Komagatake. The climb will be accompanied by a Shinto priest who will give a special blessing at the top of the mountain. (Opening climb departs promptly at 8:00 a.m.)

The "Yamabiraki" or "Mountain Opening" Ceremony

The “Yamabiraki” or “Mountain Opening” Ceremony

Whether you get excited for the sea or the mountains, you’re sure to experience something new and exciting at Itoigawa UNESCO Global Geopark this weekend! See you there!


May 132016
 

Itoigawa UNESCO Global Geopark is located atop a massive fault line. This location, straddling the border between the Eurasian and North American continental plates, is the reason for Itoigawa Geopark’s extreme topography, where mountains nearly 3000 meters in height plunge into the Sea of Japan.

Many of these mountains are volcanic in origin, formed of andesite, granite, porphyrite, diorite and other rocks. The youngest of these volcanoes is Mt. Yakeyama (2400 m). Born only about 3000 years ago, Mt. Yakeyama remains active to this day. Its last magma and pyroclastic flow producing eruption occurred about 300 years ago, but it has continued to produce smaller eruption events and steam explosions since then. In 1974, a phreatic eruption (steam-blast eruption) launched volcanic bombs and ash, killing 3 university students conducting field research on the mountain. The mountain experienced another phreatic eruption in 1983, but has mostly remained quiet since.

Mt. Yakeyama releasing steam from near its peak

Mt. Yakeyama releasing steam from near its peak

Starting in late 2015, Mt. Yakeyama has seen an increase in steam production, with steam occasionally seen stretching across the sky far to the east of the peak. Due to its active status, Mt. Yakeyama is under 24 hour surveillance and from May 1, observation equipment has detected an increasing number of volcanic earthquakes beneath the volcano.

On May 6, ash and blackened snow were detected on the east side of the peak, suggesting a minor eruption had occurred. No further eruptions have been detected, but sensor equipment have detected a slight bulging of the crust beneath Yakeyama.

In response to this increased activity, access to the area within 1 km of the mountain’s peak has been restricted. Those wishing to hike within 2 km of the peak must submit a formal climbing plan to local authorities. The Japan Meteorological Agency has not increased the warning level for the region and merely advises that visitors avoid the mountain’s peak.

As beautiful as these mountains are, it is important that we never forget the power sleeping beneath them.


Apr 142016
 

Looking for a new way to explore Japan? Try the new JR Hokuriku Arch Pass which connects Tokyo and the Kyoto-Osaka region via the Hokuriku Shinkansen.

Hokuriku Arch Pass

Courtesy of JR West. Information is accurate as of March, 2016.

Enjoy 7 days of unlimited travel on the Hokuriku Shinkansen and JR lines in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and more!

For more details, visit the official site.


Mar 292016
 
Itoigawa's Tourist Information App is now available in English

Itoigawa’s Tourist Information App is now available in English

Itoigawa City and the Itoigawa Geopark are home to dozens of restaurants, hotels, tourist spots and more. There are so many it can be a bit daunting for first time visitors. Whether you’re in town looking for a place to eat or just curious about visiting and want to see what Itoigawa has to offer, Itoigawa’s new app, Gururi Itoigawa is perfect for you! Nowhere else has so much information about the Itoigawa Geopark been compressed into one location.

Use the GPS Map feature to discover the many places to visit in Itoigawa Geopark

Use the GPS Map feature to discover the many places to visit in Itoigawa Geopark

Use the GPS Map to discover local shops and restaurants or popular tourist sites. Explore the town on foot with one of our prebuilt Walking Courses or on bicycle with our Cycling Map. Download PDF pamphlets. Visit Geosites. And during special events participate in stamp rallies to win special prizes.

Discover the Itoigawa Geopark by downloading Gururi Itoigawa today!

Available on iOS from the App Store and Android from Google Play.


May 302014
 

Good afternoon from the Itoigawa Global Geopark!

Today’s addition to the Geopark Blog is all about the continuing construction you might have seen downtown:

The new Itoigawa Station sees more construction!

The new Itoigawa Station sees more construction!

In front of the station, crews have begun to erect the frame for what will be an arcade which will run along the front of Itoigawa Station’s North (Sea of Japan) Entrance. It is beginning to take shape, but with all the work going on, it’s hard to get a feel for what the finished product will look like.

But not to worry, we have a mock-up:

Artist's rendition of the completed North Gate Arcade.

Artist’s rendition of the completed North Gate Arcade.

The completed shelter will look like gangi, the traditional shelters built over streets in the snowy regions of Japan. The rotary in front of the station will be more open than before and feature multiple bus stops and taxi parking. No more waiting in the hot summer sun or rain for your bus or taxi! At Itoigawa Geopark, we want to make getting from the station to your next destination, whether its your hotel, the Fossa Magna Museum, or one of our 24 geosites as quick and as pleasant as we can.

Looking from the station, to downtown Itoigawa…

View of Downtown Itoigawa from Itoigawa Station.

View of Downtown Itoigawa from Itoigawa Station.

…you can see there is still a lot of work to go! In the next few months, work is going to begin to replace the old arcade which once covered the sidewalks on downtown’s “Jade Road.”

Itoigawa Station and the Old Jade Road Arcade

Itoigawa Station and the Old Jade Road Arcade

Aging and in need of repair, the arcade was removed several year ago, leaving the downtown area open. Rather than complain about the loss of the shelter, many people commented on how much brighter downtown felt without the large roofs covering the entire sidewalk.

Taking this in mind, a new design for Jade Road was envisioned:

A view of the planned arcade from Itoigawa Station

A view of the planned arcade from Itoigawa Station

The new roof will only be about half as wide, offering shelter from the rain and snow, but keeping the bright, open atmosphere we’ve come to enjoy.

Planned Arcade Looking at StationIn preparation for the Hokuriku Shinkansen, Itoigawa is getting a fresh look downtown, but great care has been taken to preserve the traditional charm that makes Downtown Itoigawa and the Jade Road an enjoyable place to visit, shop, play, and live.

We’ll see you there!

-Ishikoro

 


Apr 162014
 

Good afternoon from the Itoigawa Global Geopark! It’s becoming warmer every day in Itoigawa. The snow is melting from the mountains, feeding the many rivers and streams of the Geopark.

The largest of these rivers is the Himekawa, which flows from Omachi City in Nagano to the Sea of Japan in Itoigawa. The river cuts through the Northern Alps and a wide variety of stones can be found along its banks and those of its tributaries.

Visitors to the Stone Park enter at the mouth of the river, represented here

Visitors to the Stone Park enter at the mouth of the river, represented here

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transportation, and Tourism’s Takada River and National Highway Office has, in cooperation with the Itoigawa Geopark, created the Himekawa Fureai Stone Park. This park has been designed as a model of the Himekawa River and its main tributaries. As visitors walk  on the promenade, they can see examples of the types of stones which are found along that river.

Limestone

From limestone in Himekawa…

Jadeite…to the jadeite of Kotakigawa…

Yakuseki…to yakuseki…

Andesite

…andesite and more!

Stroll through the Himekawa Fureai Stone Park during your next visit to Itoigawa and witness the beauty and diversity in the earth you walk upon.

-Ishikoro

 

 

 


Apr 142014
 

Good afternoon from the Itoigawa Global Geopark! Apart from the sudden downpour during the Itoigawa Kenka Matsuri, the weather has continued to be clear and beautiful.

Last weekend was perhaps the best time for viewing the many cherry trees blossoming throughout the Itoigawa Geopark. I had a bit of free time myself on Saturday, so I took the opportunity to visit the Himekawa River Cherry Tree Park.

Cherry trees line the embankment of the Himekawa River

Cherry trees line the embankment of the Himekawa River

The Himekawa River Cherry Tree Park is built atop the levee which protects Itoigawa from the flood-prone Himekawa River.

The cherry trees were in near full bloom on Saturday

The cherry trees were in near full bloom on Saturday

The cherry blossoms, called sakura in Japanese, were in near full bloom. At the park, a number of people were out walking their dogs, photographing the trees, or just relaxing as the evening sun lit the delicate flowers.

The Kubiki/Umidani Mountains

The Kubiki/Umidani Mountains

Far in the south, the Kubiki/Umidani Mountains provide a perfect backdrop. These mountains, ranging  from about 1000 to 2500 meters (3300 – 8200ft) in height, form the Gongendake, Yakeyama, Umidani Gorge, and Amakazariyama Geosites.

Mt. Kurohime (right) and Mt. Myojo (left back)

Mt. Kurohimeyama (right) and Mt. Myojo (left back)

To the west across the river, Mt. Kurohimeyama (1221m) and Mt. Myojo (1188m) were nearly as beautiful as the flowers were. Mt. Kurohimeyama, the imposing mountain to the right, is located between the Maikomidaira and Omigawa Jade Gorge Geosites. Mt. Myojo, the distant, nearly all-white triangular peak to the left, is located in the center of the Kotakigawa Jade Gorge.

There is still time during this week to enjoy the cherry blossoms, but don’t delay: They may not last through the weekend.

-Ishikoro


Apr 112014
 

Good afternoon from the Itoigawa Global Geopark!

Yesterday was the Amatsu Shrine Grand Spring Festival, which is better known as the Itoigawa Kenka Matsuri. I wrote about this festival in my last post, so I won’t bore you with the particulars again, I’m just going to share some pictures from yesterday’s festival:

Shrine and Cherry Blossoms

The cherry blossoms were in near full bloom yesterday, providing a beautiful backdrop to the day’s festivities.

Unfortunately, just before the main event, it began to rain quite heavily, but that didn’t dishearten the teams of men carrying their shrines:

Omikoshi

And as the shrines came down to bear upon each other, it was easy to forget the cold rain in all the excitement:

Kenka Mikoshi

Kenka Mikoshi 2

A great big thank you is in order for the men of Oshiage and Teramachi districts, their perseverance made this year’s Itoigawa Kenka Matsuri possible!

-Ishikoro