A day-trip from Tokyo - a recommended itinerary for an early summer

An early summer with lush green has arrived at Echigo-Tsumari. This itinerary takes you to visit artworks as you drive through mountainour region.

Information and Map

7:48 Depart Tokyo station
1.5 hours
Joetsu Shinkansen
9:07 Arrive at Echigo-Yuzawa station, Rent a car.
50 min
10:00 Memories of a closed school standing in the midst of mountains
"The Last Class" by Christian Boltanski and Jean Kalman
A large-scale profound artwork by Christian Boltanski using the entire school building (Higashikawa Elementary School) in Matsunoyama area which resonates with his long-time theme, exploring death and memories of humans. (30-40 min)

※ Opens only on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays until end October
10 min
10:45 Sculptures displayed at an elementary school
"Birth of Stars" by FUNAKOSHI Naomi
Five spheres places in the school ground of Matsunoyama Elementary School. The artwork was created in cooperation with school children, making it accessible and perfect a stop-over as you drive around the region.

※ Please ensure not to take photos of school children without permission when checking the artwork on the school site.
10 min
11:00 Large 3D sign board (can be viewed from car)
"Step in Plan" John Körmeling (text design ASABA Katsumi) (2003)
The large signboard suddenly comes into sight as you approach the crossing heading to Matsunoyama from Tokamachi/Matsudai area is the 3D map of Matsunoyama. It is also a small park which you can climb up staircases. The typography on the signboard was designed by one of the most prominent Japanese typographers, Asaba Katsumi. While Körmeling and Asabe had never met until the opening of the festival, they met by chance in front of the work and hugged each other.
5 min
11:10 Immerse yourself in nature - from eating lunch to seeing artworks outdoor
【ETAT2021 Pre-exhibition】A special exhibition, "16 Ropes" by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov @ Matsudai History Museum
A special pre-exhibition "16 Ropes" by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov who will be presenting new artworks during ETAT2021, has been launched at Matsudai History Museum this spring. The exhibition will be re-staged at Echigo-Tsumari Satoyama Museum of Contemporary Art, KINARE in summer. (20-30 min)
Echigo-Matsudai Satoyama Shokudo
Located within Matsudai Nohbutai, "Café Reflet" by Jean-Luc Vilmouth is an artwork serves also as a restaurant, Echigo-Matsudai Satoyama Shokudo. Enjoy the taste of bouties of satoyama. If your visit falls into Saturdays, Sundays or publici holidays, you can try "sansai (mountain vegetables) buffet" at the restaurant or as a take-away. "Sansai Special Plan" to enjoy about ten different kinds of sansai is available only on weekdays until 28 June 2021.

※ Booking is required for "Sansai Special Plan" at least three days before your visit.
12:50 Explore artworks outdoor around Matsudai Nohbutai
Approximately 30 artworks dotted around Joyama
Joyama is a hilly area spreads behing Matsudia Nohbutai and hosts approximatley 30 artworks in the rice fields and forests. Great place to explore on foot after lunch.
10 min
13:30 Artworks outdoors (could be seen from the car)
"Boys with Red Loincloths Returned", "The human re-entering nature", "Inagohabitambo" and more
Unique artworks outdoors (which you can see from the car without getting off) include 40 standing objects wearing red loincloths close to Matsudai Nohbutai, a human-shaped structure covered with ivy and a gigantic grasshopper slide standing in the rice field adjecent to Matsuo Soba restaurant.
15 min
13:50 Deeply walking into the world of a picture book
Hachi & Seizo Tashima Museum of Picture Book Art (2009)
Seizo Tashima, a picture book artist known for "Chikarataro" and other masterpieces transformed the former elementary school into a museum. Visitors can walk thorugh the old school building with installation of objects made of drift woods and experience a story of the last three students of the school. The museum is also a home for goats during the spring and summer seasons. Stop for a cup of coffee and sweets or delicious lunch using local ingridients at Hachi Café in the museum. (allocate 30-40 min for viewing artworks).
15 min
15:10 An artwork which thrives in nature vol.1
"Growing Tree in Tsumari" by Hong Sung-Do
A floating tree in the abundant nature of Echigo-Tsumari - the sight which is cut off from the land makes you feel slightly uncomfortable.
10 min
15:25 An artwork which thrives in nature vol.2
"POTEMKIN" by Architectural Office Casagrande & Rintala
The rust of the colten steel reminds us of the wall is made of an artificial material which contrasts with trees standing tall along the wall. The fact that this artwork stands in the place which was once an industrial dump site gives us an opportunity to think about the relation between humans and nature.
10 min
15:40 An artwork which thrives in nature vol.3
"LIKE SWIMMING", "ta no tama / shirahake"
As you head to Kiyotsukyo Tunnel, you can find sculptural works by AOKI Noe, slightly off the R353. These works were created and installed in collaboration with locals including children, representing the engagement of the community with the artist.

※ "ta no tama / shirahake" will be open to the public from mid June.
5 min
15:50 An artwork which thrives in nature vol.4 (can be seen from the car)
"Nakasato Scarecrow Garden" by Chris Matthews
When you cast your eyes to the right as you head to Kiyotsukyo Tunnel, you will see colourful scarecrows scattered along the rive as if they lead your way to the tunnel.
5 min
16:00 Did you know this is also an ETAT artwork?
"Tunnel of Light" by Ma Yansong / MAD Architects
Kiyotsukyo Tunnel is famous for its stanning view and the entire tunnel is an artwork. In addition to a unique public toilet and observation decks created for ETAT2018, a new artwork, covering the wall and floor of the tunnel as if wrapping the toilet with black and white stripes that represents the violent flow of Kiyotsugawa River, has been launched in April 2021. (40-50 min)

※ Booking for timed entry will be necessary during the busy seasons.
30 min
17:38 Return the rent-a-car and depart from Echigo-Yuzawa station
1.5 hours
19:00 Arrive at Tokyo station


Dates April - mid November
Origin / Destination Tokyo (via Echigo-Yuzawa) / Tokyo (via Echigo-Yuzawa)
Contact us for consultation on personalized tours or travel agency original plans.
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