NIIGATA, the chief town of the province of Echigo, Japan. Pop. (1903) 58,821. It lies on the west coast of the island of Nippon, on a narrow strip of sandy ground between the left bank of the Shinano and the sea, which though close at hand is shut out from view by a low range of sandhills. It occupies an area. of rather more than 1 sq. m., and consists of five long parallel streets intersected by cross-streets, which in most cases have canals running down the middle and communicating with the river, so that the internal traffic of the city is mainly carried on by water. The houses are usually built with gables to the street, and roofs and verandas project so as to keep the windows and footpaths from being blocked up by the heavy winter snows. Niigata was originally chosen as one of the five open ports - Nagasaki, Kobe, Yokohama, Niigata and Hakodate - but it failed, chiefly owing to a bar which prevents the entry of vessels of any size. The town has been brought within the railway circuit, and the production of petroleum has been developed in the district. Ebisa, on the island of Sado, was opened as a supplementary harbour of refuge, but not as a trading port. There is a large manufacture of lacquer-ware in the town. The foreign trade is entirely in the hands of Japanese merchants. During winter Niigata suffers from a terribly severe climate; the summers, moreover, are excessively hot.
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