Just being out along Shitada’s pristine rivers, including the Igarashi and Sumon, is an instant escape—an invitation to just slow down and enjoy the rolling waters, the trees, the birds, the hills and more. But this is also one of the best places to enjoy river fishing in Japan, and particularly fly fishing for the native iwana (char) and yamame (cherry trout). From the Yoshigahara Fishing Park, high up the Igarashi River (camping also available), down along the streams past the landmark Yagigahana rock formation. Some areas are catch and release; others allow you to take a few home for dinner. A distinctly Japanese style of fishing uses extremely long rods in the pursuit of ayu (sweetfish) in the more open river stretches further downstream. There is even fishing for salmon in Autumn, as they run up the lower reaches of the Igarashi River.
Shitada is blessed with many clear river systems, including the Igarashi, Sumon and Komade Rivers, making it a mecca for many kinds of anglers. Professional fly fisherman Yuzo Sugiura is now an official advisor, assisting Shitada in creating a truly attractive, sustainable river environment for anglers and the fish.
Tucked into the mountains far back along a winding road, this beautiful riverside area is one of the finest fishing spots in all of Japan. While lure and bait fishing is also allowed, this is a great place to learn (or perfect) fly fishing, whether Western style, or the traditional, Japanese reel-less method known as tenkara—an excellent choice when overhead trees or narrow valleys make the long casting motion of fly fishing impractical. The main target species are iwana (char) and yamame (cherry trout), both striking members of the salmonid family of fishes—great fighters and also delicious, although the Fishing Park area is strictly catch and release (catch and keep areas can be found further downstream; be sure to check before taking fish from the river). Full camping facilities can be found in the Park center building; charcoal-making demonstrations are also held during the camping season. A fishing license is required (daily or seasonal) and can be purchased at the Park building. 160 Yoshgadaira, Sanjo-shi, 955-0000. Tel (in Japanese) 090-3226-5912, 9 am to 5 pm.
This, the only fly fishing event in the prefecture, gives serious (and new) anglers a chance to focus on fishing in the charming setting of Shitada. Local advisor Yuzo Sugiura provides presentations, while beginners to experts can also enjoy fly tying and fly casting lessons and other content. Fishing tackle makers, local outdoor gear manufacturers and local restaurants all open booths at the event. The venue is the Captain Stag© Yagigahana Car Campground.
The fun of winter in Shitada
A long-awaited long-ride cycling course in Shitada
A profession trail runner helps create the international Mt. Awa Skyrace
Accommodations & Eating
Committed to quality: soba restaurant Yamaka
Rafting in Niigata? Gotta go to Shitada!
The fun of fly fishing in Shitada
It’s slow and steady out here, but Shitada also has some comfortable, even luxurious, places to stay. These also serve yamazato kaiseki, multi-course Japanese cuisine built around the best of the wild things from the mountains and streams.
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.