The Mt. Awa Skyrace is one of the most distinctive trail running events in Japan, heading up the clearly-defined ridgelines of this beautiful, 1,293-meter-high peak. The toughest category is a steep run up on snowy surfaces, making it also one of Japan’s most challenging races. But even casual trekkers and hikers will find excellent trails for all interests, from a long approach to Mt. Awa, to a trail that will take you through the woods and up to the top of Yagigahana rock. There are also scenic tanada—terraced rice fields—in many areas around Shitada, and a hike through them is both beautiful and an intimate introduction to the beauty of the traditional Japanese countryside (and, often, the friendly local people as well!).
This challenging road with roots in the samurai age takes you from Sanjo/Shitada across the border into Fukushima. Its name, which means something like, “an 80-ri crossing” (ri being an old measure of length) referred to the tough terrain through which it passes, and the arduous journey on it. The road played a major role in history, with the head of the ruling Nagaoka Clan being killed along the way during one of the last battles of the feudal age. Today you can take part in a bus tour exploring this historical, natural pathway.
This unique trail run event heads up into Sanjo City’s mountainous areas while snow still lingers on Yagigahana. It was here on Mt. Awagatake that the Skyrace was held as the opening event of 2019’s Skyrunner World Series, one of the world’s most prestigious endurance sport series. With a total length of 35 kilometers and an ascent and descent covering 2,752 meters, this is the highest such course in all of Japan. At the same time a vertical kilometer race—a four-kilometer course that rockets up one kilometer—was also held, another local event that is also a world-class competition.
Shitada is home to some beautiful peaks, including Mt. Awa, Mt. Sumon and Mt. Banya. Rising to their peaks are trails to please hikers of all abilities, from beginners to seasoned climbers.
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
Shitada has a long tradition of fine metal craftsmanship, from the hand-forged nails that started the industry more than 200 years ago, to today’s high-tech camping gear made by companies headquartered here.
The beautiful staggered rice terraces known as tanada are great destinations for a hike or bike ride. This rural side of Shitada also provides a bounty of delicious vegetables and fruits, while wild vegetables can be found in those forests just beyond the fields.