TIPSY Pass – Taste of Niigata “Furumachi” explorer pass

TIPSY Pass is a year long promotion where you can enjoy eating and drinking in Japanese restaurants and izakayas in Niigata City’s Furumachi. A historical part of the city with a rich, vibrant culture which continues today.

TIPSY Pass Book
A book of five tickets 8,000 Yen including tax.

Ticket books can be purchased at hotels and shops in Niigata City which are participating in the promotion.Please check the website below to find where they can be bought.

What is a TIPSY Pass?

2019.3.1 – 2020.3.31

There are many wonderful Japanese restaurants and Izakayas which have traditional atmospheres in Niigata City’s ‘Furumachi’ area, which means ‘Old Town’. The TIPSY Pass lets you sample unique, local gourmet dishes and famous sake at various venues around the town. We guarantee you will have a fantastic time and return with many good memories. You can share one ticket book with other people!

How to enjoy the TIPSY Pass?

1.Firstly, buy the ticket book.

Ticket books can be purchased at cooperating hotels, shops in Niigata City or through PeaTix. Please check the list of places where you can find them on the back of this pamphlet. Each book comes with five tickets. Each time you eat or drink at a participating venue, simply pay by using the tickets.

2.Check which venue you would like to try.

Find the place you would like to visit most by looking through the list of participating venues. You can choose from a variety of places. From traditional Japanese restaurants and izakayas to Italian restaurants and bars. Each one will be waiting for you with their own specially prepared set of one or more dishes and choice of alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.

3.Enjoy your food and drink.

Find your venue using the map enclosed in the ticket book. A specially prepared set of food and drink will be served in exchange for the tickets. If you like the atmosphere and their cooking, you can order more for an extra cost.

4.Enjoy the atmosphere of Kagai (geisha district)

Because there are many restaurants which have been running for more than 100 years, Furumachi is an area where you can feel the real tradition of Japan. It is recommended to take a stroll around this area and enjoy the old town atmosphere as well as the food and drink! If you are lucky, you might see ‘Geigi’ here in this ‘Kagai’ area!


  • Dishes that participating shops offer may change from day to day. Actual dishes served may differ from the photos in the ticket book.
  • Enquiries in non-Japanese languages may not be available at some venues.
  • Because there are longer holidays from the end of April to the beginning of May, mid August, and around New Year in Japan, shops’ business days and office hours may change. Please check the shops’ websites for details.

The History and Culture of the Furumachi Kagai (Geisha District)

During the Edo period around 200 years ago, Niigata City was booming as a port of call on the old Kitamaebune shipping route. By the Early Showa period (Showa period: 1926-1989) it was considered one of the most famous geisha districts in Japan and was bustling with people. Many canals connected Furumachi, the center of the city, with other places. The areas “Nishibori” and ‘Higashibori’ were named after two canals which existed at the time. The canals were bringing in people, business, restaurants and places to enjoy spending time and money in. Through all of this the culture of Kagai and ‘geigis’ was born and flourished. To this day, there are many old traditional Japanese restaurants remaining in the area and people still coming and going to spend time with geigis. Historical kagai where the port town of Niigata City emerged is still familiar with many.

FURUMACHI-KAGAI 200 years of memory

‘The City of Water’ and Marine Trading Base

Niigata was known as the ‘City of Water’, and developed as a base for marine transportation on the west circuit shipping route. There were 26 canals in the Furumachi area until 1964, and many boats ran up and down them around the city. Trading and transporting wares brought in from the sea and rivers. Merchants flocked to Furumachi and it became a vibrant, buzzing place. Two particular canals, the ‘Teramachibori’ and ‘Kataharabori’ divided the town and created two areas. Those two areas became Higashibori and Nishibori.They can now each be found on the east and west side of Furumachi-Dori (main road).

The emergence of Kagai culture in Niigata City.

When ‘Kitamaebune’ large cargo ships with masts began to dock in Niigata City, the area achieved more development. They brought not only cargo with them, but the culture of geisha from Kyoto. The Furumachi area became recognised as of the best geisha districts the same as Shimbashi in Tokyo and Gion in Kyoto. By the early Showa period ( Showa period:1926-1989) there were more than 300 ‘geigis’ (known as geisha in Kyoto and Tokyo) who chicly entertained guests in atmospheric Japanese restaurants and various other places.

Remaining images from that time.

Furumachi’s kagai area was once at its peak of prosperity. Those atmospheric scenes linger on in the town, particularly in the old Japanese restaurants, special assignation spots where people waited for geigi, and geisha houses.What makes Furumachi kagai so special though is that it is the only remaining geisha district with an accurate prewar feel. Still now new geigi are trained and emerge as those did before them. Furumachi is one of the few places remaining where you can still enjoy being entertained by them at parties. While you stroll around the lanes and avenues of this old town, you’ll not only feel those ethereal Japanese times but also see them.

TIPSY Pass Book Dealer List

You can find the locations of participating shops and hotels selling the ticket books by checking the link below. They can also be bought through PeaTix. Please check the link below for more information.

  • ANA Crowne Plaza Niigata
  • Court Hotel Niigata
  • Hotel Diasmont Niigata
  • Niigata Daiichi Hotel
  • Niigata Grand Hotel
  • Niigata Toei Hotel
  • The Italia Ken
The local convenience store
  • General Incorporated Association NIigata MICE Support
    (Joho-Koubou DOC Tokimesse Branch Shop)(10:00am – 4:00pm)
  • Daily Yamazaki Niigata Honchodori Store
  • Yamazaki Daily Store Niigata Furumachi 9 Bancho Store
  • Furumachikagai Community Information
    (Tue. to Thu. 10:00am – 4:00pm , Fri. and Sat. 10:00am – 8:00pm (Mon. and Sun. and holidays are closed.))
  • km-0 niigata lab
    (9:00am – 8:00pm)
  • Northern Culture Museum
    (9:00am – 5:00pm (Dec. to Mar. 9:00am – 4:30pm))


  • Each participating shop has different regular days off and office hours.
  • Enquiries in non-Japanese languages may not be available at some shops.