Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale 2018: Art festival of man and nature

Linking nature and men

Uniquely, this art festival views fine art as a means of involving humans in nature, installed mainly in outdoor locations, and employs the vast seminatural satoyama woodlands of Niigata Prefecture as its stage. Approximately 510,000 people attended in 2015.

Divided into six blocks, the entire Echigo Tsumari area acts as a venue for this art festival. Each block is dotted with facilities such as art museums and accommodations using repurposed closed school buildings, and festival features such as artworks blended into rural life. Visitors can fully enjoy artworks while basking in Japan’s rural landscape.

Model two-day trip to Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale 2018 with an overnight stay

Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale 2018 offers artworks scattered around about 200 settlements. A two-day trip with an overnight stay is ecommended for this event, which enables you to visit artworks, enjoy beautiful scenery, such as satoyama woodlands and rice terraces and stay at a lodging facility repurposed from a closed school.

Carsten Höller「Rolling Cylinder, 2012 」

On Day 1, leave Tokyo on the Joetsu Shinkansen Line to visit Echigo-Tsumari Satoyama Museum of Contemporary Art KINARE, a key facility for Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale 2018. The square building of this museum, which has a corridor surrounding a large interior pond, was designed by Hiroshi Hara, one of the leading architects in Japan. Rooms inside the building are structured to form smaller buildings within the building. “Rolling Cylinder, 2012” is an artwork by Carsten Höller that shakes the viewer’s sense of balance and gives the impression of entering another dimension by inviting visitors to walk through a tunnel in which spiral patterns in red, white and blue rotate.

Everything is structured with squares and circles Massimo Bartolini feat. Lorenzo Bini「○ in □」

In addition to many works by artists from around the world on display, KINARE offers other facilities, such as a restaurant serving traditionally prepared regional cuisine using seasonal, locally sourced food and a hot spring facility.

After fully enjoying the world of art at KINARE, take a bus from outside Tokamachi Station and travel to Katakuri House in Ketto hot springs village in scenic Akiyamago, appreciating the natural landscape from the bus window along the way.

Katakuri House is an accommodation facility created from a repurposed elementary school that opened in 1884 and kept watch over local children for 108 years. Fascinated by the area’s abundant nature, a young couple chose to manage Katakuri House. Their dishes are rumored to be delicious. Works by Japanese artists are also on display within the grounds of this lodging facility.

On Day 2, travel to Matsudai Station from Tsunan Station via Tokamachi Station to enjoy the artworks on display in the Matsudai Nohbutai area introduced below.

Getting There Day 1: Ride a bus bound for Tsunan or Gennaiyama from Tokamachi Station and get off at Tsunan Yakuba-mae bus stop (about 40 minutes). Transfer to another bus bound for Wayama Onsen or Ohakazawa and get off at Kami Ketto bus stop (about 35 minutes).

Day 2: Ride a bus from Kami Ketto and get off at Tsunan Yakuba-mae bus stop, transfer to a train on the Iiyama Line at JR Tsunan Station, travel to Tokamachi Station (about 25 minutes). Transfer to another train at Tokamachi Station and get off at Matsudai Station (about 10 minutes).

Visiting seminatural satoyama woodlands in the Matsudai area using artworks as guideposts

Yayoi Kusama “Tsumari in Bloom”

Matsudai Nohbutai

Matsudai Nohbutai is a generic name for the Matsudai Yukiguni Noko Bunkamura Center Nohbutai, connected to Matsudai Station on the Hokuhoku Line, and field museums with about 40 scattered artworks. MVDRV, a group of Dutch architects, designed Nohbutai. Artworks, such as “Tsumari in Bloom” by Yayoi Kusama, the artist famous for polka dots in bright primary colors, are scattered around the field museums, surrounded by Mother Nature.

We recommend accommodation facilities in the Matsudai Nohbutai area to visitors who wish to fully enjoy this area.

The Sansho House is a lodging facility created from a repurposed closed elementary school. Its wooden two-story building evokes feelings of nostalgia and warmth. Guests can taste foods prepared by local housewives using materials from satoyama woodlands.

Visiting artwork and staying overnight

Dappi-suru Ie (house casting off its skin): artwork available for overnight stays

Dappi-suru Ie (house casting off its skin) was once a private house, built 150 years ago, stained deep black with soot that was about to crumble into decay. However, 3,000 people including artists spent two and a half years restoring this old private house as artwork. It became an overpowering space completely covered with flowing patterns carved by chisels.

Visitors can stay overnight at this artwork furnished with a bathroom. They can also cook for themselves in a simple kitchen that also has cookware.

Basic charge for use of the facility: 15,000 yen and upward

Beautiful view of the popular Hoshitoge rice terraces

We advise you to take a side trip to Hoshitoge rice terraces after visiting Dappi-suru Ie (house casting off its skin). Many people visit to admire the picturesque view. Green scenery spreads over the area in early spring while plentiful rice sways in the wind in fall.

Visit this art festival held once every three years where nature and art intersect harmoniously.