– touring 2 – y’all come back now, y’hear

Well, tomorrow never came. Well, it did, but I didn’t get on that train. Before you judge me too harshly, I went to bed about 12.30 and it just did not seem possible to get up at six am when six am came about, even with the thought of napping for three hours on the train. In fact, the thought of three hours on the train, and the 4 kilometre walk up steep hills, along narrow, winding roads with no footpaths,  kind of made me pull the covers up closer under my chin. The scenery would have been stunning. I’m pencilling it in for next week.

We have a holiday today, I forgot to mention in my last post. So that is why Monday was free for me to gad about. I’m kind of wistful about not being on that train, though. I wanted to trainspot the trainspotters.

I went to see an exhibition in Nagaoka yesterday too of a Japanese guy, Bakusen Tsuchida.


Quite beautiful, and the grounds of the Niigata Prefectural Museum of Modern Art in Nagaoka are also nice…




…what I’m trying to say is that I got my money’s worth out of my Echigo Two Day Train Pass (¥2500). I ended up saving about ¥5000 in train fare. For U.S. readers, just take off two zeroes and add a dollar sign, for Australian readers, do the same and add about 5 – 8 dollars.

Why this palaver? Well, I bought another one yesterday because I intended to go to the triennial again today. At 8.40 a.m. it is surely not too late, dear hearty lizard? I’m afraid it is. Too much travel, too little time. So, all up, I think I might be ahead by about ¥1500 yen. I guess that isn’t too bad. Plus, the weather is gorgeous, so after swimming I am definitely going to the park to see if the swans have come in. And maybe I’ll even use that pass to go into Niigata, but I don’t think so. A Monday public holiday for cleaning and pottering.

Okay, swimming beckons but this post shall continue my Matsudai meandering , Nagaoka red herrings above aside, so, as it says in the title. Until then.
Which is now, or at least until my wash finishes. It is clouding over. Knowing my procrastination gene, I’ll be cycling to the park in the rain. But, so much to do. These countless posts (see how it jumped from 3 to infinity in a heartbeat), editing a friend’s paper, planning, emailing, cleaning, breathing, you name it, I’ve got to do it. Well, if it rains and I don’t go to the park, I promise not to feel guilty.

Yesterday’s post left you with the tantalising words, Satoyama Art Zoo. Now, I have to get my guide out of backpack, because I had it all ready for today’s GREAT ADVENTURE. But not to worry. Kurt Vonnegut Jr. and a collection of his short stories are in there too. I finished Raymond Carver’s short stories, essays and poems while waiting that unbearable (not really, I had Raymond Carver) hour and a half on the train. Different times, different times, different times. Still poignant, though.

Jumping back in time to my second tour on the 10th of September, a prestigious day for some of you out there, the tortoise in the link above will be posted here because he is now missing, toddled off somewhere. The Autumn triennial doesn’t have the complete catalogue of works on show. The unfortunate thing about the Satoyama Art Zoo is that the artists are not allocated to the art work on the web page, so, unless I was diligent and snapped the information on the post near the work (which I did a few times), I don’t actually know who created what. The list of artists is available on the link above, though.


I hadn’t entered No Butaijust yet, though. There are plenty of pieces of art around the grounds, so I checked them out first. However, if you had entered the centre, you might have come across these critters on the stairs, also part of the Satoyama Art Zoo. These are by a Russian artist, that much I remember.




Fitting that the crustaceans are at the bottom of the stairs. Okay, the pictures have been uploaded, but I have a feeling that everything is kind of getting turgid, so, I’m going to hop on bicycle and ride out to the park. The rest of the zoo will be on display by the end of my tonight. I hope. I promise you tigers and giraffes and ants, and a huge table to warm your feet under, and a possible emu, though he might feature in the future, maybe even a poem. Stay tuned.

What a beautiful day. The rain staved off and I walked around the park five times. I think it took me an hour. I met a student of mine, a 75-year-old man who is sharp but doesn’t sound sharp due to having suffered a stroke or something similar. He told me that today was sports day commemorating the first Olympics held in Tokyo in 1964. I knew it was sports day, but I didn’t know it commemorated that event. I stayed in the former Olympic village last year when I went down to Tokyo for a conference. Very convenient, neat and practical.

So, I wandered under No Butai, because I knew I wanted to see the ants, giraffes and tigers that I had seen at a distance on other visits. Also, I knew there was some play equipment there which was part of the triennial. I wandered past this little family, and there were no posts nearby so I have a feeling that they are the installation of the forgotten. Maybe a hobby craft of a local who sells them at the markets for a few hundred yen and then some? The father there seems to be ferociously guarding his vulnerable and quivering family from marauders. The art crew, they’re a rowdy bunch.


This play equipment has been utilised every time I’ve come to Matsudai. The kids love it. They crawl along and slide backwards if they can’t make it over the curves. A few smallish adults might have tried it, too (mere slips of girls and so on).



The sign reads,”Please take off your shoes” (but you can leave your hat on). You might have gathered that I was taking a lot of photos of not necessarily anything much, but look at those curves! If you click on the photos they become bigger and much more interesting, I promise (I might actually be wrong about that – strange, I was sure that was how it worked). It’s just as well no-one accompanied me. I think that one hour of the four was probably spent snapping, and I always used to just love feeling immersed in things without wondering what the best angle for a shot was. When my battery dies, as it inevitably does, or some other problem crops up, as it inevitably does, I’m kind of at a loss of what to do nowadays. Not entirely, but I’ve got a whole lot more visual rather than holistically tactile. Of course, it’s also a relief when my battery runs down, but I do forget those exhibitions I haven’t photographed. Not all of them, but quite a few.

So, a giraffe was calling my name. But before I visited the giraffe, I took in some seismographyby Honore d’O from Belgium (2006). How’s that for a last name? Sorry for the lack of accent. I haven’t discovered that html. I’ll edit it in, if I remember. According to the text, [s]mall balls float in the air on a quiet street off the main shopping street. I could only see the one. It was meant to make you think of the balance and cycle of water, and it did, and the sky. It was delicate. Quite gorgeous.


This was suspended from a huge steel fishing pole, but it’s best if you go to the link above to get the idea. The mobile can’t do distance and precision all in one.

So, I hear you say, bring on the dancing girls, the clowns, the laughs, the giraffes, the tigers. Okay, okay, we’re almost there. The Seismograph was stamp-worthy and it was at the edge of part of the Satoyama Art Zoo. Smack bang in the middle was everyone’s kotatsu by Tetsuya Osugi and Tomotaka Ito / pop-up-tokyo. That’s how it reads on the website. A kotatsu is a small table which most Japanese households have. It has a heater underneath. A blanket is slipped under the top of the table, and everyone sits around it warming their legs.


Well, this kotatsu was massive, and apparently the townspeople helped make it, and it was used for a communal picnic upon completion, but every time I saw it, children were playing on it, near it, which was also its purpose. Out of the frame in the picture below was a teapot, some play fruit, and a few other toys. When I returned in the afternoon they’d been shifted to the centre of the kotatsu, so, despite the rain, someone had had some fun.








And ants big and ferocious enough to have the kids wetting their beds for the rest of their childhoods.


Note, everyone’s kotatsu was number 153, not 147 like all the other artworks, apart from the seismograph. But, the organisers had cunningly hidden the stamp in the No Butai building just in case someone inadvertently stamped 147. That would mean that their passport would be invalid for the paying exhibition inside (you pay them, not the other way around). However, some of us are sneakier than others, and it was a simple case of wandering over to the Seismograph and using that stamp also on number 153 (the seismograph was 151). What a trainspotter I am! You think I’m through with the underbelly of the No butai Snow-Land Agrarian Culture Center? Whoa there Nelly, hold your horses. What’s that? You are the horse? Well, you know, stop champing at the bit. There’s a bird, a swing, and a view from the viewing platform, and all the kind of stuff to the left, but eventually we DO cross the bridge over the river and the real adventure begins. Until next time.

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