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Historical castle town, Murakami

Niigata Summer

Salmon and Castle Town Murakami

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The samurai residence from the EDO era still remain in the town.

A town dedicated to the salmon, born in the river and bred in the sea.

The salmon is a fish that can be found in almost any supermarket all over the world. But there is one town, which bears a special passion for the salmon ? Murakami Town in Niigata Prefecture. This castle town that faces the sea is a place that even many Japanese are not familiar with. After all, it two hours from Tokyo by the Joetsu Shinkansen plus a one hour transfer to a local train to get here. Machiya, or literally townhouse, houses from the Edo era are still a common sight here. The history of this town goes back surprisingly long ? records show that from over 1,000 years ago, salmon from Murakami Town were offered to palaces in Kyoto as gifts.

Murakami Town is located at mountain on the border between Yamagata Prefecture and Niigata Prefecture, starting from headwaters from the Miomotegawa River at Mt. Nishiasahi, located some 1,800m above sea level. This river is also joined by the Arakawa, Ookawa and other rivers. With the onset of autumn, salmon start swimming up these river streams. They navigate rough coastlines to reach the northernmost tip of the Senami Coast. This coast is famous for its dramatic rock formations known as the Sasagawa Nagare.

At Sasagawa-nagare, a clear blue ocean and fantastically-shaped rocks together form a breathtaking natural landscape.

Winter-wind dried salmon ? a common winter sight of Murakami.

These freshwater-born salmon are gifts from nature, and have been treasured as such since times of old. Every part of the salmon from head to tail are consumed and savored. There are over 100 types of cooking methods of the salmon. If you visit Murakami in autumn, you will see streets shimmering with silver, as fishermen dry over 1,000 salmon along the roof of townhouses in a curious sight to any visitor. The cold harsh winds of Murakami help to dry and enrich the taste of the salmon.

Salmon are called "Iyoboya" by the locals. At a museum called the Iyoboya Museum, you can find out about the long and rich history of salmon in this society.

After exploring the historical old street of this town, why not enjoy a salmon meal? Try pairing salmon prepared in various ways with the "Shime Harutsuru", a famous local sake of Niigata.


3h from Tokyo via Nigata Staition (JR Joetu Shinkansen Line) to Murakami Station by JR Uetu Line.

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Salmon / the Iyoboya Museum

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Rows of machiya townhouses

the Sasakawa Nagare

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