Migata, a seaport on the W. coast of the main island of Japan, in the province of Echigo, on the S. bank of the Shinano river, opposite Sado island, capital of the Teen or prefecture of the same name; pop. about 60,000. It is the place of greatest mercantile importance on the W. coast of the main island, but the existence of a long and dangerous bar at the mouth of the river renders it nearly useless for any but junks and vessels of light draught. Inside, the water is 15 or 20 ft. deep. The city is neatly laid out; the streets are levelled, paved with gravel, well drained, cleaned, and lighted with the coal oil obtained in the neighborhood. The river islands are connected with the city by bridges. It has a flourishing inland trade, the excellent roads and waterways approaching the city reaching into the silk districts of Aidzu, and the coal and petroleum deposits of Echigo. A rich overland trade is carried on with Sendai on the E. coast. Junks and steamers ply in the rivers, distributing the exports of rice, coal, coal oil, fish, and silk, and the imports of sugar, wax, etc. It contains a government hospital, national and private banks, and a school of foreign languages.
Niigata was founded in the 17th century, and was under the direct government of the sho-gun. It was opened to foreign commerce by the treaties of 1858, but owing to the bar it cannot be used for that purpose.