Local shops: There are many gift shops opposite the station in Myokokogen and scattered throughout the town where one can find all kinds of unique local products such as sasazushi (sushi on bamboo leaves), takenoko jiru (bamboo shoots and miso soup), plus the sake (rice wine) and koshihikari rice that Niigata is famous for.
Open Market "Rokusai-ichi" 六斎市 : On the 6th and 10th of every month local farmers gather in Arai to sell fresh vegetables, fruits, fish, wild plants, flowers and much more. It’s a great place to have a chat with local people. This open market is located near the Ichi Shrine, where the God of Success, Business and Happiness is enshrined.
Michi no eki 道の駅 : There is a very nice gift shop here where you can get lovely presents - from straw animals (the typical omiyage of Arai made by the elderly during winter), sweets, sake ('Ayumasamune' sake is one of the best in the Japan), kanzuri (spice), mobile phone straps, postcards, etc.
Local produce: The Nojiri area has numerous roadside stalls and farmers' markets where you can buy great local produce for a quarter of the price you would pay in Tokyo. The tomatoes and peaches are renowned and the region grows blueberries, apples, pears, corn, edamame (green soybeans) and dozens of other fruits and vegetables, as well as all sorts of local specialities such as Scotch thistle preserve, walnut jam and aloe vera honey.
Joetsu (Takada, Naoetsu and surrounds)
Wing Market: If you want a whole day of shopping therapy try the famous Jusco / Wing Market shopping area in Joetsu City. Catch the train to Naoetsu or Takada and then hop on a Number 6 bus from the station. Buses leave every hour or two. Alternatively it is 20-30 minutes walk across the bridge from Kasugayama station.
Local Food: Koshihikari rice from the Kubiki area and local vegetables are used to makeKubiki Oshi-sushi - a preservative free pressed sushi. Enjoy the three flavors of mysid shrimp with miso flavored pickel, egg with Japanese basil, and five-variety vegetable.
Wine Tasting: In 1898 wine was produced for the first time in Japan at lwanohara Vineyard by Kawakami Zenbe'e (1868-1944). Kawakami is recognised as the founder of grape growing and wine making in Japan. After a number of failures Emperor Meiji gave Kawakami's first vintage the brand name of "Kikusui". The vineyard is open for visits throughout the year for tastings and barbecues. One can also view the old cellar and barrels used by Kawakami, as well as the company's modern wine-making facilities. A museum dedicated to Kawakami is open every day except for Monday..
The Rice and Sake Warehouse of Wonder: Apart from the cool name this institution provides an introduction to all things about Niigata's famous rice and sake. Here one can learn about sake brewing and there is also an opportunity to sample some sake from all over the prefecture. Located at 867-1 Sanwa-ku in Joetsu City (Closed Mondays and during Winter).