Snow sports reign supreme in Niigata, but the prefecture's hiking, hot springs, seafood, rice and sake are major draws in their own right. Just over an hour from Tokyo by bullet train, Niigata is a natural delight, from the popular ski resorts of Echigo-Yuzawa to the terraced rice paddies of Hoshitoge. Beyond the mountains, scenic beaches stretch along the coast and ferries operate to rustic Sado Island. Seafood, rice and sake are local specialties. If you visit in season, you will be able to see fireworks and cherry blossom festivals that rank among some of the best of Japan.