Located a two-hour train journey away from Tokyo, Echigo Tsumari is located at the Southern end of Niigata. Echigo-Tsumari is known as being one of the heaviest snowfall areas in Japan. With all the challenges currently facing it, Echigo-Tsumari remains one of the cultural landscape based on agriculture that is closely related to the earth.
Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale is one of the largest contemporary art festivals in the world by area. Since the year 2000, Art Triennale has been staged every three years in the 760 sq.km area of the Echigo-Tsumari region. This event has been inspired by the idea that ‘humans are part of nature.’ The artwork created under this overarching theme in previous Triennales have not only revealed the nature that local people admire and contend with in order to live here, but also introduced their way of working with nature.
Echigo Tsumari is defined by its rivers, river terraces, heavy snowfall and decidious broadleaf trees along with other topographical and weather patterns. The Kaengata culture was established in the middle of the Shinanogawa river about 5300 years ago and thrived for 500 years. People in this region have expanded the agricultural field by reshaping the mountains, to produce rice, changed the flow of rivers, and have dug tunnels by hand. All of these contribute to create ‘satoyama’ where nature and humans co-exist. These activities are reflected in the artwork of the people.
The event, which spans over a total of 50 days, is organized by the Echigo Tsumari Art Triennale Executive committee. The different themes seen at this festival include the notion that art is how people engage with nature and civilization, as well as the exchange between the region and the city.
It is suggested that having a personal vehicle is the best way to enjoy this festival as it allows flexibility and affords the visitors the luxury of creating their own itinerary. But your visit to Echigo-Tsumari is not complete unless you have enjoyed the Uonuma Koshihikari rice, fresh vegetables, local sake and soba noodles.