Niigata (nēˈgätä) [key], city (1990 pop. 486,097), capital of Niigata prefecture, N Honshu, Japan, on the Sea of Japan at the mouth of the Shinano River. It is the main port for the west coast of Honshu and an important point for oil storage and the importing of liquid natural gas. Niigata's manufactures include iron molds, Buddhist altars, lacquerware, and sake. The city is traversed by many canals and is the site of one of the largest flower farms in East Asia. Niigata was opened to foreign trade in 1869. Niigata prefecture (1990 pop. 2,474,602), 4,856 sq mi (12,577 sq km), yields rice, petroleum, gold, silver, machinery, raw silk, and farm products.