As of 2009, the city has an estimated population of 48,192 and a population density of 64.6 persons per square kilometer. The total area is 746.24 km².
Historically Itoigawa lies at the end of the famous shio no michi (salt road) that supplied salt to ancient Edo (Tokyo) via Nagano. In 2011 the city will be a main stop on the new Hokuriku Shinkansen bullet train line, bringing Tokyo within approximately three hours traveling. Itoigawa is also famous for its jade which can be found on local beaches.
Itoigawa is also well-known for its unique bugaku, a variety of traditional Japanese performance art. Itoigawa Bugaku can be seen at festivals taking place at Hakusan Shrine and Amatsu Shrine, and has been nationally designated as an Important Intangible Cultural Asset.
Furthermore, Itoigawa is well-known for being on, and partially lending its name to, the Itoigawa-Shizuoka Tectonic Line that separates the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. It is this placement that gives Itoigawa its unusual rock formations in and around its many mountains. These formations, as well as Itoigawa's ancient history as a jade-producing city, led to the construction of the Fossa Magna Museum and Geopark. The first Geopark in the world, Fossa Magna Geopark allows visitors to explore some of the unusual rock formations, as well as the tectonic line that splits Japan between two plates. The free public museum gives visitors an opportunity to learn more about the geological history of Itoigawa, Japan, and the world at large.
Itoigawa is also the location of the highest peak in Niigata prefecture, Korengesan (小蓮華山), 2,766m above sea level. Other local places of interest include: Benten-iwa (within the neighborhood of Nou); and Tsutsuishi Station, which is underground.
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