Itoigawa (糸魚川) is a city at the far southwestern corner of Niigata Prefecture, Japan.
Itoigawa (or more specifically Oyashirazu, in the west of the city) is situated at the northern terminus of the Itoigawa-Shizuoka Tectonic Line, a fault line geologically separating North-Eastern and South-Western Japan.
Itoigawa is home to the Itoigawa Geopark.
The nearest airport is Toyama, which is a little over an hour away by car. By public transport, take the bus to Toyama Station and change there to the train (see below).
The main way into Itoigawa is the Hakutaka service on the Hokuriku Shinkansen. Times and prices are as follows:
- Tokyo: 2 hr 10 min, ¥10,800
- Takasaki: 1 hr 20 min, ¥8110
- Karuizawa: 1 hr 5 min, ¥6580
- Nagano: 40 min, ¥4470
- Toyama: 26 min, ¥3480
- Kanazawa: 50 min, ¥5180
Trains connect at Kanazawa to Limited Express trains (Thunderbird towards Osaka, Shirasagi towards Maibara and Nagoya):
- Komatsu: 1 hr 15 min, ¥6030
- Fukui: 1 hr 45 min, ¥7330
- Tsuruga: 2 hr 20 min, ¥8730
- Maibara (Shirasagi): 2 hr 50 min, ¥9550
- Gifu (Shirasagi): 3 hr 40 min, ¥10,200
- Nagoya (Shirasagi): 4 hr, ¥10,740
- Kyoto (Thunderbird): 3 hr 40 min, ¥10,200
- Osaka (Thunderbird): 4 hr, ¥10,740
From Nagoya, a better route is to take the Shinano Limited Express to Nagano and change there; this takes about 4 hours and costs ¥10,100.
When the Shinkansen opened in 2015, the Hokuriku Main Line through Itoigawa was transferred to the new non-JR Echigo Tokimeki Railway and became its Nihonkai-Hisui Line. While it offers a few direct trains to Toyama and Kanazawa, most services require a change at Tomari. Taking this line, Toyama is 2 hours and ¥1520 away, and Kanazawa is 3 hr 20 min and ¥2830 away.
From Niigata, the best way to Itoigawa is to take one of the five Shirayuki Limited Express trains a day to Jōetsu-Myōkō, where you can change to the Shinkansen; this takes about 2 hr 30 min and ¥6700. Japan Rail Pass users will have to pay ¥450 to travel on the non-JR section between Naoetsu and Jōetsu-Myōkō. Those who do not have a rail pass may wish to change at Naoetsu to the Nihonkai-Hisui Line; this takes 2 hr 40 min and ¥5090.
The JR Ōito Line offers 7 trains a day to Minami-Otari, taking about an hour and costing ¥670. While this may be a useful shortcut to places further down the line such as Hakuba, taking the line all the way from Matsumoto (over 3 hours and ¥1940) takes much longer than taking the Shinano Limited Express to Nagano and changing there to the Shinkansen (1 hr 40 min and ¥6150).
Kubiki Bus operates two buses in the morning to Niigata, returning in the afternoon, taking 2 hr 45 min and costing ¥2850.
Other than that, Itoigawa is not well served by buses. If coming from Tokyo, take a bus to Naoetsu and change there to the train; from Osaka, Kyoto, or Nagoya, take a bus to Toyama.
- 1 Fossa Magna Museum (フォッサマグナミュージアム), 1313 Ichinomiya (buses run eight times a day from Itoigawa Station Alps Exit, taking 10 minutes and costing ¥100), ☏ . 09:00-16:30, closed Mondays from December to February. Minerals and fossils dug up from fossa magna plates are on display at this museum. ¥500.
- Itoigawa Geopark. A group of sites in the immediate environs of Itoigawa. It is part of the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network.
- Itoigawa Tourist Information Center, 1-7-47 Ōmachi (underneath the Shinkansen station, at the Alps Exit), ☏ .