– where one disappoints, the other pleases – day 2, where to have lunch?

Where-the-spiritual-shadow-descends2 Photo by Ichigo Sugawara

Where the spiritual shadow descends smoke also rises.

Where-the-spiritual-shadow-descends Photo by Ichigo Sugawara.

This installation was in the Minekata-Yamadaira area, which my guidebook tells me, “. . . are villages in the mountainous areas of northern parts of Matsudai . . . ” (2015, p.21). I took tours in that area in 2009, but I also walked it from Matsudai station. It’s quite a hike, and 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 the installation that was in the then Ikebana House I think, called Invited by the Wind, which had been in this area. The two photographs directly below are from that 2009 exhibition.

Ikebana House

Ikebana House

Invited by the Wind, 2009, by Rishi Otsuka

ikebana house

ikebana house

Invited by the Wind, 2009, by Rishi Otsuka

This blog picks up where I left off, and gives some good detail of the exhibition, and also of the silkworm one below, which was surreal and peaceful. Silk worms chewing mulberry leaves sound like the rain falling. This is a fact, and I have heard them creating downpours.


The House of Cocoons by Kazufusa Komaki and the Nocturnal Studio, 2009.


We didn’t drive past these tanada as I recall, but that’s not to say they weren’t there, and what actually was at fault were our attention spans. That photo is also from 2009 and taken in Autumn. OR – totally somewhere else in the Echigo area?? Sorry, I can’t recall. It’s pretty though.

Anyway, we were back in Minekata-Yamadaira area, or I was back in that area, and I had to agree with K’s incredulity that I had walked to the villages, but as we passed iconic and permanent art exhibitions that I know I had seen, as detailed in my flickr stream I know that I did. Pick a destination and “walk on”, like Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee! If you look at the collection, “Art” on that flickr link, you can find a few Echigo Tsumari albums from 2009.

So, once more tucked into a village of this area, or one nearby (I’m sure I walked to two in 2009, though it might have just been two old residencies) were ephemeral installations residing in traditional Japanese houses.


Now, I know I’ve left these boys standing out in the field


and these birds without a roost to return to,


and I haven’t even touched upon how psyched I was to be able to get a picture of the 2003 Step in Plan by John Körmeling (text design Katsumi Asaba):

Nor, despite my enticing blog title designed to assuage and subdue the appetites of the hangries, have I mentioned the lunch of

photo by spinachdip on Wikimedia Commons.

zaru soba that we finally tracked down, but patience. All good things come to those who wait. Though you’ve read of my propensity to not finish Echigo touring reports, and is it any wonder? So much seen, so many words, so many pictures, dimming memories, my mind like a cobwebbed installation in a winding rural town. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that I return to the neglected topics touched upon above. You too.

The idea behind Where the spiritual shadow descends (top two pictures) is that within a house set in a rural village in northern Honshu, Niigata Ken, Echigo area lies, “. . . something that is disappearing but can be felt.” Shinji Ohamaki did a good job.

Yamadaira Area

This is a photo of mine from 2009 which details the view from the road twisting around the Minekata-Yamadaira Area. K and I came from a slightly different angle, but took this way back into Matsudai.

Before we got this far though, K and I saw some other installations that had threatened to be spooky, but weren’t particularly, had lunch and made a few wrong turns and got a little lost on our way to the spiritual shadows. Spiritual shadows had been recommended by the researcher from my night at the Yama no ie dormitory and, even prior to meeting her, my curiosity was piqued when I had read its description. It was good. All our spook needs were met. We’d been told to give it fifteen minutes. Give what?

Viewers and “experiencers” are first ushered into a dark room in an old wooden house (after having their passports stamped – yaay!). A light swings around on a long cord suspended from the ceiling. The only light. This waiting time is necessary, because space on the first/second floor (one flight up) is limited and very dark. Participants’ sight needs to adjust and there isn’t much space.

Can you see your shadow? the woman who gave the introduction to the house asked myself, K and the other couple waiting. I’m sure she explained and spooked a lot more, but my understanding is limited.

When another couple descended the stairs, we were told to go straight and go up. It was very dark. With adjustment to the lack of light, you got used to it.

On the second floor we looked over a landing to the depths of the house below. Or what we could see of it. The house had been hollowed out, it seemed, but exposed beams and supports remained apparent to the eye, and divided the space below into squares.

Some of the old houses have whole tree trunks as the main support of the roof, though I think the beams we saw had been hewn and smoothed.

smoke Stock photo from the Net. Not one of mine.

But, who could really tell? Smoke was swirling all around. At first it seemed that only the smoke and fog below (illusions, as there was not the smell of smoke) were the substance and theme of the installation, but after a period of time, small balloons, as seen in the second photograph at the beginning of this entry, began to rise.

On the balloon was a reddish-orange circle, which was some kind of flame or heat which resulted in the balloon both rising and then dissipating in a cloud of smoke. It was ethereal and impressive. No doubt it was hot up there too, but considering everything was in the dark, a lot cooler than the humidity of the day.

K asked the woman on reception how they had achieved the effects, and she said the balloons were especially made for the installation.

We felt our way down the stairs after a short period, and walked down to Sericulture project. Whose kimono is it anyway? – The mothers of the country of silk installation. This might have been an extension from the 2009 silkworm project touched upon above.

by Kazufusa Komaki + Nocturnal Studio

This picture is not particularly good, but it was an interesting idea whereby kimono, combs and hand mirrors of local residents were donated to make the installation. The local community plays a large part in the triennale.

Anyhoo, the kimono display was NOT the disappointment. Nor was it not being able to have lunch at Nunagawa Campus, or being unable to find a way into the centre of The Tower / Google Earth – The Fields of Tokamachi.

by Vladimir Nasedkin

The disappointment lay in the menace and promise of the picture below


not translating to reality. Doctor’s House by Lee Bul and Studio Lee Bul seemed like a good idea, and it was interesting. An old doctor’s clinic is used as an installation featuring a lot of mirror, but the actuality looked a lot different from the proposal. True, the descriptions in the guidebooks are just a few lines long. Full intention cannot really be known. Some of the more interesting pieces one was not allowed to photograph, and it was set in another historically interesting building.

And there was a disco chair that would have done Steve Martin and Audrey proud!



Disco chair (my title) in Doctor’s House, by Lee Bul and Studio Lee Bul


Disco chair (my title) in Doctor’s House, by Lee Bul and Studio Lee Bul

That doctor was obviously a superstar, though it’s also a good commentary on the ascribed and achieved status of doctors. I think this was another case of me hitting the on/off button on my camera, and thinking I’d taken a picture instead of withdrawing the zoom and closing the shutter, because I know I stood in front of that glitter chair and took direct pictures! I thought I did. It was fabulous.

I like the idea of the patients in the waiting room looking in at this exalted figure who might cure all their woes, or who might be, instead, a pompous jackass given respect only due to his title. The gilt and glitter encompasses both readings.I’m assuming it was a he as the house was pretty old, but I could be very wrong there, of course.

Anyway, the clear winners for this part of the journey can be summed up in smoke and the mirrors. Figures.

Explore posts in the same categories: art, photography, travel

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