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Taking a slow walk to experience your favorite works at Echigo-Tsumari.

Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial 2009

Celebrating its 4th time this year, the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial 2009 is an art festival that started in 2000, increasing the number of participating artists and exhibiting artworks year by year, and having grown as a big art event with about 370 artworks (including 160 pieces of the permanent collections once showcased in the past) exhibited for this year. Collaborated with the committee members, artists, volunteers and local communities together for these 10 years, the 2009 event was held for 2 months over the summer in Satoyama, where I visited the event for 4 days in the beginning of September.


From Otaru, Hokkaido to the port of Niigata, it takes 20 hours from boarding the ferry to visit the event site. During the long trip, I never got bored with great views of the clear blue ocean, a sunset, stars and a sunrise, as getting used to the slow pace to enjoy the event as comfortable as possible. Because of the vast exhibit site, it’s hard to go through all the works. What you need to enjoy the event best is to experience your own Triennial by taking a slow walk heading towards your favorite art.

From Niigata Station, I got a rental car to head to the event. There were several ways to enjoy the event using guided bus tours, trains, rental motorcycles and bicycles. The travel way you select would change the whole landscape of the event experience, so you might want to check your schedule and budget before starting your trip to the Triennial.


The House of Light by James Turrel was my first stop at the event. Inspired by an essay “In praise of Shadows” by Japanese author Junichiro Tanizaki, the building is the only accommodation. You can stay at the Turrel’s work. While the Japanese room is filled with sun light coming inside from the sliding roof, the corridor around the room is covered with cool air and darkness created by eaves, where you can feel the silence of shadows while standing under the fine roof. Every visitor lays down on the Japanese room and relaxes looking up the sky square-trimmed sky. Even though it’s my first visit, I felt so comfortable because of its use of materials such as tatami rush and timbers and the building bringing in the surrounding context, which generates into the simplicity of the Turrel’s works. When you visit this place, I recommend exploring inside the house, as you can find fantastic invention in the building. You can stay at this place throughout the year. The bathrooms designed by Turrel under the theme of light are only for its guests.


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