– touring nine – it all ends (until the next time) with a flat battery

I went to Matsudai again today. I don’t think I’ll post any pictures from it as they weren’t large installations I looked at (though you never know – about the posting, that is). I went to two installations that were about four kilometres from the train station, up a pretty steep road. The Echigo area is surrounded by mountains. The tallest is probably about 2500 metres. I wasn’t climbing that one.

Though the road was relatively steep, I got more of an idea of the angle from the views I had of the terraced rice fields and the changing colours of the leaves in the forests below. It seemed relatively gentle, but I like walking, and I often walk UP things. It was interesting, too. There’s a big difference between doing the hard slog, the hard yards when all you are passing is concrete barriers and shopping centres. When you are passing wild grass letting loose grains and seeds on the wind, and metallic blue beetles, and old farm houses, and workers bundling rice together, time goes very quickly, inclines seem to level out.

I saw the cocoon house, which is a house where silkworms have been raised. It was pretty amazing. And the Ikebana house, which had four or five rooms (or more, the whole old house) dedicated to interpretation of the contemplation of nature, I guess. In quite unique ways.

But, this last and final post is still in last Saturday, the 10th of October.

It was all downhill after visiting the castle, literally, not figuratively, though I think the castle was the highlight.. I’m going to pull a few photos from the site for stuff I saw but didn’t take photos of due to not being able to get a good shot. I visited Toru, the Peace Garden and the Matsudai Small Tower before I got to Succession.

The Small Tower was near the castle, and Toru and the Peace Garden were just in the park below the Trees. Toru can double as a stage, apparently, and a Noh play was put on here during the summer leg of the festival. Aesthetically it doesn’t do that much for me. The Peace Garden was pretty, but the website has a good photo. I didn’t take one. I already stated my opinion on the Small Tower, though the website photo makes it look interesting.

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Matsudai Small Tower, by Peripherique, France (2003) (Photo by S. Anzai)

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Toru (2003), by Noriko Yanagisawa. Photo by S. Anzai.

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Peace Garden, by Madan Lal (India, 2000). Photo by S. Anzai.

Succession is a really interesting piece and peace. The artist and community made sun-baked bricks which held seeds inside. Once the seeds sprouted, they grew through the bricks and the bricks (bio)-degraded back to the earth and the seeds grew into plants. I guess the bricks perhaps provided some form of sustenance for the plants, too. By Autumn, the bricks have pretty much deteriorated, or have been replaced. Visit the website, and see what it initially looked like.

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Succession, by Akira Aida (2009)

I was happy for the makeshift map I had printed from the Net. I had a bigger map, too, but this gave more detail. A lot of the artworks were tucked away in rice fields and so on, and though a lot of effort was made to try and make them obvious, with the yellow signs and the much coveted stamps, they weren’t always. Couple that with my natural curiosity, and I didn’t miss too many installations. None, I think, that were actually showing in this area (I had missed some that were only available during the summer).

Just past Succession was the Rice House. This is two chairs made of steel, or some kind of metal which give a view of the rice field and which also provide a picture frame for the hills that rise up behind Matsudai. As the rice had just been harvested, the field was not the most attractive, but it was still peaceful to sit on the seat for a while, and to take in the view, and take photographs from a few perspectives.

I was still deleting files, and my battery was getting to the two bar space. Yesterday, my battery lasted the whole day. I didn’t take so many photos, but more importantly, I had enough space on the disc, so no energy was drained deleting individual photos.

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Rice House, by Yung Ho Chang and Atelier FCJZ (2003), China.

I was looking all the while for this installation, That’s Paradise not realising it had finished. I had a list of the available artwork, so I don’t know why I thought this one was still showing when it clearly wasn’t, so that took me a few loops around the curves of the road.

In the meantime, people kept passing me, well, a few, and I wanted to yell out to them, Check out the castle! Don’t miss the castle, cos’ they didn’t have maps and how would they know? Maybe they were just enjoying the scenery. Or maybe they were more in the know than I was in the know.

A group of what seemed to be volunteers with a group of primary school kids was ahead of me. Me going down the road, and they going up, except half of them weren’t, they were sitting on the road. Anyway, they were so excited to be out, and happy in being cheeky, that I could wander by without them stating that I was a foreigner. So that was all good. They were more fascinated in each other than in my difference, as it should be.

And it was just about here that the squirrel ran across the road! The first and only squirrel I have seen in Japan, but they do exist. It was very cute. And definitely a squirrel. It stopped for a little while, but not long enough for me to get a picture. I wouldn’t have been able to get a good one, anyway.

Just past the kids, a track off the side of the road led to Shrine for Mother Nature.

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Shrine for Mother Nature, Eko Prawoto, Japan (2003)

The road then looped me back around to the snowmen again, but instead of heading down the hill (at that point), I wandered down a little further and entered the forest at the point where Seed of Hope was installed.

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Seed of Hope, by Kunio Yoda, (2000), photo by S. Anzai.

There were three of these. Two written in Japanese and one written in English, I think. I really wanted to get a photo of them. The leaves were just beginning to fall and were obscuring the words. It was very gentle, quite serene. But the forest is dark, and the mobile phone was not up to the task, hence the photo from the website above. The three were evenly spaced at different points of the track and the path then proceeded to the Crescent.

From the website, I didn’t think I’d be too impressed with a big chunk of concrete in the forest which kind of looked like something that might be part of storm water management, but, again, it was nice to walk along its curve, and the concept and the fallen foliage added poetry. Plus, I quite like my photo.

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Crescent, Makoto Ito, (2000)

The path from the Crescent led to the rice fields,  directly to the rice fields, to the Scarecrow Project.

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I had passed this twice when I had visited Matsudai on a tour before, but always from a distance and in a hurry. This time I got to walk right along the edge of the rice field, and to see, that as the artist intended, that the figures were actual people of the village. Their names were written in kanji on the back of the sculptures, I think. One had fallen by the wayside. Maybe too much sake, or the typhoon might have got him.

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The following guy was nicely adorned with some tinsel (I wonder who put it there?)

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And the last two photos are looking down at two of the figures. A woman decided to work right in front of one (how dare she!), which, if someone had a better camera than mine, would have made a great shot. As it is, with cropping, it’s not bad, but the detail is not good. You can see Fort 61 in the background, too. In the second picture below you can see the train tunnel which has spat me into Matsudai two times now.

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Scarecrow Project, by Oscar Satio Oiwa (Japan/Brazil, 2000)

There is also a sculpture in this series of a woman with a baby, but I couldn’t get a decent shot of them.

Just up and around the corner from this is Pool of Water, which I featured in an earlier post, but for consistency sake (and because I like the photo) here we go again.

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Pool of Water, by Azumi Tachiki (2000).

The website says that the fountain plays a lovely melody as water drips from the basin. I don’t know if they were being metaphoric, or not, but I couldn’t hear anything, but then, I wasn’t listening out for anything, either. I found that information retrospectively.

Up and around the corner slightly from this, I think I had to backtrack, and it is the last artwork before the dragonfly and the pencils (that I had a chance to take photos of), was Relation-Earth/ the Big Dipper. The website has no details, so from my guide

On the ground covered by a massive iron plate, seven holes were made in the positions of the seven stars of the Big Dipper. Form another big hole, representing the polar star, a tree grows. Plants have sprouted from the earth of the seven holes and continue to grow.

Well, grass had seemed to have sprouted from the seven holes, wild and unwieldly. Not a bad idea, but again, maybe viewed from on high it would have been something. The photo below is from the website as I didn’t take one, and it was nowhere near as sharp as in the photo. Nine years involves a lot of growing.

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Relation-Earth / the Big Dipper, by Tatsuo Kawaguchi (2000). Photo by S. Anzai (? It doesn’t state who took the photo on the website, but the older artworks seem to have been photographed by him).

Okay, so anyone who has flitted between my flickr and the two blogs knows that I have featured not only The○△□Tower and the Red Dragonfly, but especially Reverse City. Reverse City is my favourite, and I am fond of the Dragonfly, too.

This time I got them together, and as I was coming down the hill, and not up, and as I was not searching for my triennial passport, nor racing for the bus, I could get some great shots, or so I thought.

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The○△□Tower and the Red Dragonfly, Shintaro Tanaka (2000).

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The○△□Tower and the Red Dragonfly, by Shintaro Tanaka (2000), Reverse City, by Pascal Marthine Tayou (Cameroun, 2009)

For more comprehensive views of Reverse City, check out my flickr, or this post at lizardrinking.

And Guess What? My battery ran out just as I was getting to Fort 61 and Sound Park. I think I mentioned it in my third post of this series. I really wanted to take a photo of Fort 61 because there is some morning glory wrapped around one of those figures which is an interesting contrast.

Why not take it when you went to Matsudai yesterday, you ask? What a good question. Well, what I did take is a picture of the third installation of Sound Park. I didn’t realise that there was a third just past Memory and Regeneration – Time Ship . This time around, I approached Nobutai from the direction that the tour bus had taken us, past the Boys in the Red Lion Cloths Returned, past all the marigolds on the side of the road that were part of the Perla Krauze installation, and I discovered this beautiful area just near a rundown shrine (a tiny one) which looks directly up to the other sound park, also past a triangular building which complements all the sound parks, and over to the fort. I will edit some photos in when I myself have edited them (additionally, there are some views of the dragonfly and Reverse City from down below, but the sun was behind them, so I’m not sure if they worked).

But, that doesn’t answer my question, and it’s a sentence fragment you cry! (No it’s not! I respond, but I thought it was, too).  No shit. Well, I wanted to get to Nobutai to buy a present for my father for his birthday. A possible present. And I wanted to catch the 14.54 train, and then check out a few of the pieces of art in Tokamachi and then catch the 16.14. I also thought if I couldn’t get anything for Dad at Nobutai, I could maybe in Tokamachi, but everything, almost, really has finished in that city. I couldn’t find anything in Nobutai, and I couldn’t find anything in Tokamachi, and the time in Tokamachi could have been spent photographing the Fort people. Still, I had a lovely walk along a path that was full of sculptures not related to the triennial.

I think I’m returning to Matsudai on the third of the next month, so maybe the Fort People will be lucky then.

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One Comment on “– touring nine – it all ends (until the next time) with a flat battery”


  1. […] though the photographs aren’t featured, I detail a small part of the 5-6 kilometre journey here. And then it seems I got very lazy, and just started posting pictures with no explanation. Such as […]


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