Quite an iconic place, inside Niigata’s ‘Echigo-Yuzawa’ station, you can find an area nestled in the back called “Ponshukan”. Inside, you can find a variety of shops selling sake (Niigata’s specialty), and even a sake-themed onsen in the back! However, the most notable area is the sake vending machines!
Just to the right inside Ponshukan, you can see the entrance to the sake vending machines. At the counter, pay ¥500 and you will be given a sake cup and 5 coin tokens to use inside. Peruse the rows of sake, and if you can read them, see details about each sake, including the number of tokens needed to test them. Most sake can be tasted for 1 token, but some specialties or seasonal recommendations can go up to 3 tokens. You can watch my walkthrough here!
There are also handy boards with sake recommendations (and each vending machine is numbered for simplicity) if you’re not sure what to try. Also inside is a long salt-tasting table you can give a try! I went here during winter and having a few small tastings of sake helped keep me warm for the day 🙂