Visit Akiyamago with Michihiro Shimabuku

TSUMARI DIARYPosted : February 22, 2018

We ran a guided tour, "go deep into the snow in unexplored Akiyamago in winter with Michihiro Shimabuku" on 13 and 14 January 2018.

Shimabuku-san is one of the participating artists in the ETAT2018. As a part of familiarizing himself with Akiyamago since 2016, he has come to a conclusion that snow itself is an art when he experienced the snow in Akiyamago last winter. He wished more people to encounter this much of snow before the festival begins in summer and helped plan the guided tour with us.

Akiyamago is an area along the Nakatugawa river running through across the border between Tsunan-town of Niigata Prefecture and Sakae-town of Nagano Prefecture. It is one of the 100 unexplored regions of Japan, surrounded by mountains, Mt Naeba on east and Mt Torikabuto on west. Known as a heavy snowfall in winter, the area keeps its distinctive culture.

I wasn't sure how many participants we could attract at the begining, we were very pleased to have 22 people in total, coming from Tokyo, Chiba, Saitama, Ishikawa and Niigata.

After meeting at Echigo-Yuzawa station, we started our journey to Akiyamago by bus. The participants enjoyed a flavour of the special lunch box on the bus prepared by Bar Echigo-Shinanogawa using colourful local delicacies.

We arrived at Akiyamago as we finished lunch. Under the guidance by villagers of Ketto, we made kamakura, igloo with a slide which is different from most of the ordinary ones. Children enjoyed going down the slide while adults making the igloo. We all took turns an kept digging and finally managed to make a relatively large igloo with the help from locals.

After completing the igloo, we visited the hanging bridge, Mikurabashi bridge which has been used for film shooting. It is usually not so easy to reach there during the winter but we were fortunate to walk across the bridge thanks to those locals who cleared away the snow before the tour participants arrived.
Thank you so much for those who worked on clearing the snow!!

We then headed to ryokan, Yukiguni in the town and enjoyed dinner follwed by a lecture by Mr Shimabuku.
He spoke about his artworks, his own experience in Akiyamago and plan for the ETAT this summer. We can't wait to see how the festival is going to be.

On the second day of the tour, we joined Koshogatsu ritual (new year' ritual) held in a village where the Yukiguni is located. We also participated in the Koshogatsu ritual of Ketto village and participants tried to throw coins into Dourokujin in the centre of the circle, wishing for good health throughout the year.

I am sure participants in the tour must have enjoyed the heavy snowfall in Akiyamago. Shimabuku-san will be presenting an artwork during the ETAT2018.
Please come and visit his artwork, too.

We look forward to welcoming you at Akiyamago in summer.

Taisei Watanabe, staff member of Katakuri House

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Staff member of the Echigo-Tsumari Art Field.

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