Niigata's Saito Villa was the summer house of a wealthy merchant family in the 20th century. Walk through the tatami-floored rooms, catching glimpses of the artful private garden. Be mesmerized by a geisha dance and play traditional geisha games. One of the games is like a geisha version of rock paper scissors: You play three times, and the loser turns around while the winner beats a drum.
Niigata is famous for its rice, so you'll find a treasure trove of sake breweries. Tour Imayotsukasa Brewery where they still make sake the old-fashioned way. Next, nibble miso-pickles while sipping sweet sake at Minemura Brewery, and choose from 92 sake brands at Ponshu-kan Sake Tasting Corner.
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