Nohbutai: Niigata Prefecture’s Echigo-Tsumari Art Field, an art triennale in nature
What is the Echigo-Tsumari Art Field?
The Echigo-Tsumari Art Field is an art festival that has been held every three years since 2000 in southern Niigata’s Echigo-Tsumari region. With the boundless woodlands as its stage, visitors can see, touch, and experience the artworks of artists from Japan and around the world.
They are dotted with approximately 200 works of art, including an art museum built inside a defunct school, a monument that suddenly manifests itself deep within the mountains, and art depicted on streets. Find your favorite piece and head on over to the exhibit.
In this article, we will introduce “Matsudai Nohbutai” in the Matsudai Area where we encountered works of art imbued with the vitality of the locals of Niigata’s harsh snow country.
Getting in touch with the essence of farming culture
Completely surrounded by mountains, Matsudai Area is one of the main areas located among a sea of hills. From the terraced rice fields cutting into the mountain slopes and the paddy fields exhibiting the application of flood irrigation radiates the history of the farming culture that has long become rooted in Japan’s snow country.
Heading south from Matsudai Station on the Hokuhoku Line of the Hokuetsu Express, you will be greeted by a large monument.
A copper lizard will lead the way from the train station to the art field.
A large, immaculately white structure stands tall in the mountainous area. It almost appears as though a spaceship has suddenly descended on the woodland landscape of Niigata.
Inside the building are various works of art. Highly recommended among them is the “Blackboard Classroom,” a room made out of blackboards from the walls to the desks and chairs.
The words scrawled on the blackboards change every day.
No one will get upset no matter where you scribble—the table, globe, walls, or doors. If you write down a question, you might even get a response…?
Cafe Reflet, where you can enjoy a taste of the local Koshihikari rice and wild plants, is another work of art. You can experience the snow country’s farming culture through your palate.
The open space on the 1st floor also houses a mobile jungle gym and a wooden slide on which anyone can freely play.
We ran into Mr. Frog at the jungle gym.
The terraced rice fields that stretch out alongside the Nohbutai is another one of Matsudai Area’s featured artworks. The field is painted all year long with human-shaped monuments that look as though they are tending the field.
Stepping into the rice field, you can also become part of the piece. A closer look will reveal that the monuments are much larger than they seem from afar!
Make sure to watch out for the many unusual animals that will greet you around the facility. They will coax you further into the world of art.
Matsudai Nohbutai Center
Access: Hokuhoku Line “Matsudai Station.” Direct access from the South Exit
Time and time again, Echigo-Tsumari Art Field has overcome earthquakes and floods that have struck the region. Though the spread of COVID-19 forced the postponement of the festival in 2021, the locals, artists, and gatherings of the Triennale fans have joined to prepare for a Summer 2022 exhibition.
Stay tuned for our Art Report!
*The information herein is as of August 2021.
I am Noe from Mie Prefecture, currently living in Kyoto. I have many hobbies, including watching movies, appreciating modern art, nurturing moss, enjoying local sake, finding local manholes, playing sports, and dancing. Now I am into establishing my own walking courses in Kyoto, visiting temples and shrines, art exhibitions, and bakeries. I hope I will be able to offer interesting information that makes people want to go out!