Nestled out in the countryside of Niigata prefecture, Echigo Tsumari does not seem to be frequented by foreign travelers in the Tohoku region. A self-proclaimed art field, the Matsudai Nohbutai space literally unites art with nature. Some pieces are even planted in rice paddies, and workers plant and collect the grain alongside the artwork.
Matsudai Nohbutai is conveniently located right next to Matsudai Station; it is one of six areas that make up the Echigo Art Triennial. On off years, when the museum is not as busy, the art field continues to hold its own events and exhibitions year round. Hosting both the international and local artists from Japan, such as the world-renowned Yayoi Kusama, the museum's collection is often vibrant and eclectic.
For a simple entrance fee of ¥600, you can visit the museum, art field, and the neighboring building with old Japanese relics. The museum's architecture itself is entertaining as several stairwells act as display rooms; museum goers stand above on the stairs and look down onto a highlighted piece, creating a unique experience of viewing works of art. A rooftop observation deck can be accessed by a spiral staircase painted violently red from top to bottom. Visitors can also enjoy a nice view of "The Rice Field" by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov while grabbing a light meal or coffee in the museum's cafe.
The current exhibition called "Why Does Everyone Like Flowers?"explores different representations of flowers through various mediums, and a chalkboard in the lecture room asks guests to draw their favorite flower. Colorful souvenirs and handmade goods of all types are all sold in the store's gift shop.
Once you are finished viewing and interacting with the works inside the building, grab a bottle of water from the gallery store, lace up your shoes, and trek up and around the Joyama art field area. Choose one of two routes and make your way up the path to various art sites. From oversized hanging colored pencils to human cutouts, the works surprisingly work harmoniously with the nature around them. Depending on your path of choice, the art walk can take from one to two hours, but the hike is worth the sculptures and view. A truly unique experience in the countryside of Niigata, Echigo Tsumari's Matsudai area is a paradise for art lovers and enthusiasts.