Murakami city is located at the northern end of the fertile Echigo Plain, facing the Sea of ​​Japan. In other words, if you go a little further you will be in the Tohoku region, and it has deep ties with the Shonai region of Yamagata prefecture. It has long been a key point for land and sea transportation connecting the Hokuriku region on the Sea of ​​Japan side with Tohoku. The mountainous area is vast, from the village mountains at the edge of the plain to the peaks in the back, and is rich in water resources. Agriculture, forestry, and fishing are all well developed, as is the processing industry.


Being close to the Tohoku region, the temperature is often 1 to 2 degrees lower than Niigata City. In winter, strong seasonal winds blow from the Sea of ​​Japan, and the area is always covered with clouds even during the day. As a result, it is humid, and the minimum temperature does not drop as much as inland, remaining around 0 to 2 degrees all day. Rubber boots are essential, and care must be taken when driving. Spring comes all at once. From spring until the rainy season, it is refreshing, making it the best season for sightseeing. The heat in summer is the same as in other regions, but the mornings and evenings are relatively cool, making it much more comfortable than in the city. Snowfields remain in the mountains until early July. This exquisite temperature, humidity, and wind make salted salmon only possible here. However, in recent years, due to the effects of global warming, the amount of snowfall in winter has decreased, and the weather has generally shifted to hotter temperatures.

History and Culture

During the Edo period, Murakami developed as a castle town with a fief of 50,000 koku. Cultures such as tea ceremony, Japanese sweets, and crafts flourished, and many merchants and craftsmen settled in the area. The clan focused on salmon fishing as part of its industrial development, and established sustainable methods for its development, such as building waterways in rivers to promote spawning in addition to catching salmon.
Meanwhile, the mountainous areas retained relatively old-fashioned customs. Miomote village, which was forced to relocate in 1953 due to the construction of the Miomote Dam, has attracted attention in the field of folklore for having continued its hunting culture and other mountain customs until recent years. The ports of Senami, Iwafune, and Shioya developed as ports of call on the Japan Sea route from the mid-Edo period onwards, but this role ended with the increase in the size of ships, the launch of steamships, and the opening of railways. Nevertheless, the elegant atmosphere of their prosperity is still conveyed to the present day through the Murakami Grand Festival, Senami Grand Festival, and Iwafune Grand Festival.

Senami Hot Springs

Senami Onsen is a hot spring that first gushed forth during oil drilling operations in 1904. The temperature at the source is a high 92°C, and the spring quality is a sodium chloride spring. Originally it was a natural flow, but now it is pumped out from several hundred meters underground.

Murakami Festival

The Murakami Festival is a Shinto ritual held on July 6th and 7th at Haguro Shrine in the city. It has been handed down for 400 years. It is characterized by the parade of elegant floats called “Oshagiri” with traditional designs from the 19 castle towns around the city, following the shrine’s portable shrine. Young children from the area ride on each “Oshagiri” and beat the drums of the music they have practiced, while slightly older children play flutes from behind the “Oshagiri”. The adults pull the “Oshagiri”, while the men drink sake and sing festival songs. The elderly look forward to the “Oshagiri” passing in front of their houses. They once rode on the “Oshagiri”, beat the drums, played the flute, and managed the festival, and they are grateful that the reliable and cute successors of the area have continued to carry on the tradition almost unchanged from the past, with some modern changes. It is not a vigorous festival, nor is it crowded with spectators like festivals in big cities. Rather, it is a festival in which local people of all ages and genders participate, and the ritual is carried out in a fun, peaceful, yet solemn manner, confirming tradition and the ties of the community.

The appeal of Murakami tourism

The four seasons are rich and the scenery of the sea, mountains, rivers and villages is beautiful. The sunset, the snow that falls and the birds that land there are all beautiful. The best season for sightseeing is from spring to before the rainy season, when the sunshine hours are long and the rate of sunny days is high, but December is not bad if you want to experience the unique atmosphere of the northern country and try salmon dishes. The old-fashioned town is quiet and you can feel the culture and tradition here and there, so just strolling around is fun. All the local restaurants serve dishes made with fresh seafood and mountain produce and local sake. The elaborate food and ambience of these restaurants rivals those in big cities, but at a fraction of the price. The unique aroma of Senami Onsen will refresh your body and mind at any time. The people are modest, calm and kind. However, they are not used to foreigners and are shy, so they have difficulty communicating in English. Even within Niigata Prefecture, this area lacks nationally famous tourist spots, so it has not become tourist-oriented. For visitors from outside, the special attraction is being able to encounter the simple, true Japanese region. The experience will vary depending on the season and weather you visit, so the best way to enjoy it is to stay for a few days to a week in different seasons.