Niigata Butsudan (Buddhist Altars)
Niigata has a long tradition of producing gorgeous butsudan (Buddhist altars for people's homes), which are finished with urushi (lacquer) and covered with designs in makie (gold lacquer). This is one of the traditional crafts that Isabella Bird observed in the artisans' district of Niigata. In this episode, Roza visits a butsudan shop that also produces innovative contemporary works.
Kurosawa Mountain Pass
The old Jusan-toge road connects Niigata Prefecture on the coast with the southern part of Yamagata Prefecture, inland to the east. The section of the route that crosses the Kurosawa mountain pass is still paved with stones for a distance of 1.7 kilometers. Isabella Bird was carried along this stretch on the back of a cow.
Zashikigura (Remodeled Kura Warehouses)
In the old days, people built fireproof warehouses (kura) next to their houses to store their valuables. In Yamagata, some wealthy merchants remodeled those kura into rooms for receiving guests. Bird writes that she stayed overnight in one such zashikigura at the Kaminoyama hot springs.
To reach Niigata Station from Tokyo, it takes about two hours by Shinkansen bullet train. From there, you can transfer to local trains and buses to continue to other destinations.