Mar 292013

Good morning and welcome again to the Itoigawa Global Geopark blog! I hope you’re having a fine day wherever you are. Here at the Itoigawa Global Geopark it is warm, but a little rainy. Cherry blossom season is fast approaching, so we’re all hoping for sunshine for the next couple weeks!


We’re excited here at the office to share with you our new English website! I know, I know! We just redid the website’s format a few months ago, but trust me, this update is worth it!

access infoWith (what we hope is) an easier-to-navigate format, and more detailed information about individual geosites, including access information, points of interest, and PDF downloads of our park brochures, the Itoigawa Global Geopark’s new English website should be about a bazillion (rough scientific estimate) times more helpful than the old one!

The pages are still works-in-progress. In particular the English translations are still very rough. But we were just too excited to withhold it from you any longer, so we’re publishing it now. Please bear with us as we continue to update and improve the individual pages. In the meantime, you can giggle at some of the funny English!


Mar 262013

Good morning, everyone, from the Itoigawa Global Geopark!
The temperature has dropped again the past few days. Will we ever see spring?

This past weekend visitors to Marine Dream Nou (near the Benten-iwa Geosite) had a respite from the lingering cold thanks to the 2013 Sea of Japan’s Bounty – Hamajiru Festival.

Hamajiru Festival

Scores of people came to enjoy crab and seafood soups (sold at a special price of 100 yen per bowl) as well as fresh crab, grilled seafood, and other seaside treats!

Crab Soup

‘Hamajiru’ Seaside Soup with Crab

Itoigawa’s local Idol Group, The Geo☆Girls, also performed at the festival. Visitors also had a chance to partake in a fish auction on both Saturday and Sunday.

Without a doubt, however, the most popular part event was the all-you-can-eat crab buffet:

Crab Feast

Located next to Nou Fishing Harbor, Marine Dream Nou is famous for its crab as well as other fresh seafood caught daily and sold directly by local fishermen and their families. During this festival only, you can pay1500 yen for 30 minutes of all-you-can-eat fresh-caught crab― a deal that cannot be beat!

The food was so good, even Black Bancho, the mascot for Itoigawa Black Yakisoba, made an appearance, selling yakisoba and entertaining the crowds:

Black Bancho

Thank you to everyone who came this year and a special thank you to the organizers and fishermen who made this festival the success that it always is!

While it’s too late for this year’s festival, we hope to you see here next year!



Mar 182013

Good afternoon from the Itoigawa Global Geopark! The weather recently has been pretty ridiculous here. Warm and sunny spring one day, cold and snowy winter the next! Today, it is fantastically warm, but overcast and raining off and on. Hopefully spring comes soon! As it comes we prepare for that most Japanese of spring activities: Cherry blossom viewing.

But rather than the typical picnic and sake style of viewing, why not try it in a more ‘Geo’ style?

Weeping Cherries and Reflection


Our friends over at Itoigawa Base introduced me to the 4th Annual Weeping Cherry Flower Road Hiking Tour in Tokuai.

Many of you may know of Tokuai as half of the Tsutsuishi-Hamatokuai Geosite.  This geosite, the farthest east of all Itoigawa’s geosites, sits along the border of neighboring Joetsu City.  Traditional fishing villages and terraced farmland characterize this geosite’s scenery:

Tsutsuishi Fishing Village

Terraced Fields of Tokuai









About 20 years ago, the Tokuai Furasato Organization, a local Not-for-Profit Group, planted nearly 300 weeping cherry trees throughout Tokuai. Now that they have grown, we can enjoy their blossoms in the spring. They now plan yearly hiking trips through the area of Tokuai to view these blossoms, the local traditional scenery, and geological beauty of the Tokuai region.

Weeping Cherry & House


So if you find yourself in Itoigawa during April, why not take the time to enjoy cherry blossom viewing the “Geo” way, through this guided hike through the countryside?

Date: April 14, 2013
Time: 9am—2pm
Place: Tokuai (About a 20-30 minute walk from Tsutsuishi Station)
Fee: 1000 yen (includes pork soup and mochi [rice cake])
Facebook Event Page (Currently Japanese-only)

Please wear comfortable clothing and shoes suitable for hiking. Pork soup and mochi will be served, but please also bring a light lunch and plenty of water.
Be mindful of the weather.



Mar 072013

Good afternoon, everyone! Here at the Itoigawa Global Geopark we’re experiencing some fantastic spring weather. It’s so warm, I rode my bicycle in to work today! I hope you’re seeing some beautiful weather wherever you are.

So, yesterday I visited Shimohayakawa Elementary School once again to try their Geo School Lunch! This month’s menu takes advantage of Kaiyo High School’s recently announced fare: Makochan Udon!

Mako-chan Udon

I wrote about Makochan Udon in a blog entry last week. At that time I (rather embarrassingly!) had to admit that I had not tried it. However, by stroke of luck I was invited to enjoy Geo School Lunch at Shimohawakawa Elementary School!

Makochan Udon, Fried Smelt, Spinach, Rice

Today’s menu consisted of (from left-to-right) rice, fried nigisu (a locally-caught type of deepsea smelt), spinach and peanut salad, and, the main event: Makochan Udon!

Makochan Bukkake Udon Closeup

The Makochan Udon was served bukkake-style. That is to say, the cold noodles are added to a rich fish-based broth. In this case, the broth was garnished with carrots, onion, and kamaboko, a type of fish sausage.

You can really see the jade-like green flecks of kelp in this udon. The flavor is rich and slightly salty while the texture is very ‘al dente,’ slightly chewier than your typical udon noodles and much more flavorful. I definitely prefer them over regular udon.

Unfortunately, the delicate flavor of the noodles was a bit overwhelmed by the rich broth, so I am definitely looking forward to trying them again.



Lunch with Shimohayakawa Elementary School Students

Lunch with Shimohayakawa Elementary School Students

Mar 052013

Good afternoon, everyone!

We’ve lucked out and had two days of sunshine in a row. The snow is melting and we’re getting a little taste of spring.

Today, I’d like to tell you about a couple events happening this weekend. First will be on Saturday, where the Itoigawa Community Center will present Prayer of the Earth — Professor Naumann’s Dream, a musical narrative  created by and starring members of the Itoigawa community.

nauman1Of particular note is the costuming, which features beautifully-crafted outfits that have been on display in the City Hall and Oumi General Culture Center.



The performance is one of many ways in which we hope to share the message of the earth and of the Itoigawa Geopark.


■ Date: Saturday March 9th
■ Times: Show #1 2:00pm  Show #2 6:30pm
■ Location: Oumi General Culture Center
■ Tickets: Adults 2500 yen      Students 1000yen
No reserved seating available. 500yen surcharge for tickets purchased at the door


Now, that performance is in Japanese.  If you are looking for a fun performance in English, this year the Niigata Charity Musical Group is putting on an original musical in Itoigawa this Sunday. The musical is an original interpretation of Beauty and the Beast, written and performed by Niigata’s Assistant English Teachers.

Beauty and the BeastThe musical will be held at Beach Hall Magatama on Sunday, March 10th. Tickets will be 1000 yen for adults and 500 yen for students. I will be attending, I hope to see you there as well!  All proceeds go to benefit child education in Papua New Guinea.

Date:  Saturday, March 10th, 2013
Performance starts: 2:00 pm
Doors open: 1:30 pm
Location: Beach Hall Magatama
Address: Niigata-ken, Itoigawa-shi, Teramachi 4-3-1, 941-0058