Whether it’s a short exploration on a rental e-bike, or a serious cruise through the countryside on a road bike, Shitada provides delightful, rolling roads that wind through the farmlands, fields and woods. It’s beautiful throughout the seasons, from the new greens of freshly-planted rice paddies in spring, through the deep greens of summer to the coming of colors on the mountains and down into the lowlands in Autumn. Touring cyclists might enjoy staying at a local inn, where warm, soothing baths, delicious local food and locally-brewed saké await after each days ride out to natural or cultural destinations. E-bike rentals are available at the Kangaku no Sato Michi no Eki and the Iiyu Ratei Onsen.
Shitada provides a range of courses to choose from, with beautiful rural and natural scenery and most often a pleasant breeze to keep you cool. One is the Yamanami Road, a rural ride with a total length of 50 kilometers. You can pick your own section, though, of this forest-lined ride that travels along a course with only moderate climbs and descents. It’s a scenic and beautiful ride, with Mt. Awagatake in the distance, and the landmark Yagagihana slowly drawing closer as you ride into Shitada. For hill climbing, the definite choice is to ride up to Otani Dam. The view of the lake here is natural and spectacular, especially when the colors of the autumn leaves reflect off the water. Future courses are planned as well; when Route 289 is completed, riders will be able to all the way across the Niigata-Fukushima border and on to the town of Tadami and beyond.
Exploring the world-renowned Sanjo manufacturing is ideal from the seat of a bicycle. Travel around the area’s “open factories” and company stores at your own pace, and in an intimate style that lets you really see, feel and meet the region and its people. There are a total of 16 participating companies to meet.
The items produced along the way include chopsticks, silverware, stationery, traditional nails, kitchen knives, outdoor goods and more—even a break to sample the delicious local spring water. Visit eight of the 16 locations, and win a special souvenir!
Water has defined the rural life of Shitada for centuries; once there were some 50 active springs around the area. There are still several locations where anyone can enjoy this source of life for the area; still carefully controlled by the local people, these springs remain remarkably pure.
On the Igarashi River, right here in Shitada, is one of Niigata’s only rafting areas—and it’s a good one! Great scenery, a sparkling river and some exciting rapids that anyone can handle with the help of the experienced guides.
There are tons of trails to enjoy in the area, even up to the top of the landmark Yagigahana rock. The spring Mt. Awa Skyrace, with snow still on the trail, is one of the most distinctive competitive trail runs in all of Japan.