Matsudai is a hilly area surrounded by mountains that stretches along the Shibumi River, one of the branches of Shinanogawa River. It has been described as an "isolated island on land" as it was particularly difficult to travel to and from Matsudai from the neighboring villages until transportation infrastructure was developed in 1965. Rice production is the main industry and unique arrangements and intelligence on Matsudai’s agricultural culture has be observed researched, notably its distinctive development in the face of necessity of tackling the challenging natural conditions such as terraced rice fields by cutting into steep slopes or changing the river flow to develop rice fields.
It is said that this shrine was built by Tamuramaro Sakagami in 807 to worship Nunakawa Hime. The main shrine, a wooden thatched-roof structure, built in 1497, is the oldest shrine in Niigata prefecture and is designated as an Important Cultural Property of Japan. It is also said that Kenshin Uesugi and other commanders came and prayed here during Japan's Warring Period. Many visitors make a visit to Matsuo Shrine every year on May 8th for the Nanatsu-Mairi festival, a ceremony to commemorate boys who turn seven years of age. Documents pertaining to the history of Matsuo Shrine are on display at the Matsudai History Museum.
The Shedding House
This artwork is located close to the famous terraced rice fields in Hoshitoge village. A group of students from Nihon University volunteered for the creation of The Shedding House and spent approximately one year on carving out every inner surface of an old minka (traditional Japanese) house from floor to ceiling, pillow to wall to beams - "shedding" the old house to become something new. Looking inside, both the scratched and original wooden surfaces coexist with regularity. Outside the house, bent tree trunks, a typical sight in this snow country where trees "bend" under the weight of the heavy snowfall, surround the building like sculptures. The Shedding House is not just for viewing as artwork but it is also possible for visitors to book a stay overnight.