I never got to head into Niigata Prefecture although I lived pretty close to the province as a temporary resident in the mountains of Gunma Prefecture. And it wasn't too difficult to get there even a quarter of a century ago since there was the Joetsu Shinkansen that launched from Ueno Station in Tokyo and cut right through the middle of the country. My biggest impression of Niigata, though, is the huge amount of snow that it gets every year...enough to make those huge 3m-high walls alongside the roads. And here I thought Toronto gets whacked with the white stuff.
Kenichi Mikawa（美川憲一）and his associates made an impression of Niigata for everyone back in the 1960s with "Niigata Blues". Released in August 1967, it's about as bluesy as one can get. I practically crave for something alcoholic when I hear this one...preferably in a nice little nomiya in a narrow alley somewhere in Japan. Not only is the song one of Mikawa's "Blues" tunes but it's also categorized as one of his geographical songs alongside his earlier hit of "Yanagase Blues"（柳ヶ瀬ブルース）from 1966.
Written by Kazumi Yamagishi（山岸一二三...I'm not 100% sure about the first name since there are quite a few readings for it）and Daisaburo Nakayama（中山大三郎）under his pseudonym of Keigo Mizusawa（水沢圭吾）with Hiroyuki Nakagawa（中川博之）composing it, the song is another one of reminiscing over a past love as would be fitting for a Mood Kayo with shoutouts to Niigata incorporating place names such as Niigata Station and Bandai Bridge.
About a month earlier from Mikawa's release, the Mood Kayo group, Los Primos（ロス・プリモス）, had released their version of "Niigata Blues" as the B-side to their 4th single, "Shinanogawa Bojou"（信濃川慕情...Yearning for Shinanogawa）. Strangely enough, Mikawa's B-side to "Niigata Blues" was that same song....maybe the producers had a confab at a nomiya about this. As for the video above, Los Primos' version comes in at the very end at the 5:07 mark following their other hits of "Love You, Tokyo" and "Tasogare Ginza".
Enka chanteuse Aki Yashiro（八代亜紀）also provided her own cover version of "Niigata Blues" although it wasn't an official single and I don't know when it was recorded. In any case, no matter who sings it, it makes for a nice accompaniment for barhopping.