About Itoigawa Geopark
Itoigawa Geopark - 500 Million Years of Earth's History and the Oldest Jade Culture in the World
The Itoigawa Geopark is situated in the westernmost end of Niigata Prefecture, Japan, near Toyama and Nagano. The area is crisscrossed by rock strata from different ages ranging from jade-bearing strata formed 500 million years ago to metamorphic rock strata from 3000 years ago. With elevations ranging from 0 to 2,766 meters above the sea level, the rugged terrain is home to a wide variety of plants and animals. The Itoigawa Geopark boasts the world's oldest jade culture as well as a salt trail that runs along a fault line. Signs of Earth's early history as well as the bounty of Mother Nature can be seen everywhere throughout the geopark and are also closely bound up with the lives of the local people. Thanks to the area's unique geology, seafood from the Sea of Japan, ingredients harvested from the land as well as famous local wines have given rise to a delicious and distinctive style of cuisine.
Come join us now in exploring 500 million years of geological history as you take a stroll through Itoigawa!
What attractions does Itoigawa Geopark offer?
The "Itoigawa-Shizuoka Tectonic Line" that bisects Japan passes through the region, giving the Itoigawa Geopark a unique geology and topography. We have organized these geological and topographic features into 24 geosites and sights to provide an easy-to-understand yet comprehensive introduction to these precious natural phenomena.
There are also two national parks (Chubu-Sangaku and Joshin'etsu Kogen) and three prefectural natural parks (Oyashirazu-Koshirazu, Kubiki and Hakuba Sanroku), adding national and prefectural cultural heritage sites to the fun of mountain climbing and hot springs. A major attraction of the Itoigawa Geopark is the varied geology and experiences available that offers something for everyone.
The Itoigawa-Shizuoka Tectonic Line that passes through the area has led to distinctive differences in local cultures, habits, customs and language. The area is therefore a meeting point between western and eastern Japan mixed in with local characteristics filled with surprises.
What is a geopark?
The geopark is a natural park where people can enjoy the beauty of nature and learn how closely mankind is related to the land at the same time. A geopark is not just a geological heritage site. In the beginning, people are drawn by the magnificent views, rare fauna and flora. The senses are then gradually seduced by the culture, history as well as cuisine and hot springs. The geopark can therefore be considered a natural theme park for learning through play.
What are Global Geoparks?
The Global Geoparks Network (GGN) is a program supported by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The mission of GGN is to protect rare and important geological sites, flora, fauna, cultural and industrial heritage sites throughout the world. GGN also seeks to revitalize local economies and cultural activities through the promotion of tourism.
There are currently 77 geoparks in 25 member states around the world. Three are located within Japan (Itoigawa, Toya Caldera and Usu Volcano, and Unzen Volcanic Area).
What sets the sights of Itoigawa Geopark apart? The unique geosites resemble a "department store of geology" that describes the formation of the Japan islands.
Visit the Itoigawa Geopark website
Copyright © Itoigawa City Office, Niigata Prefecture, Japan