Mar 13, 2018

Arty Niigata: getting your culture fix in snow country

I love visiting museums, appreciating the beauty in art and architecture, and learning more about history and culture - especially when I’m visiting a new place. One of the things that I enjoy most about living in Niigata is that despite it being considered by many as rural Japan, there’s still a thriving arts scene here - even in the smaller dots on the map! Great galleries, amazing exhibitions, and unique methods of displaying works all contribute to the rich culture that abounds in these parts. Wondering what Niigata has to offer the art lover? Here are some of the spots and events that may interest you!

Echigo Tsumari Art Triennale


Once every three years, the town of Tokamachi hosts the Echigo Tsumari Art Triennale, which has been running since 2000. There are outdoor artworks scattered all around the region from previous years events (that’s one of the best parts - many of the previous exhibitions stay put to enjoy in subsequent years!) that make for fascinating and photogenic talking points. At this year’s event, one of the most notable participants has to be Leandro Erlich, who is probably best known for his swimming pool exhibit that is held at Kanazawa’s 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Ishikawa Prefecture. There is more information about the event on their website here.

Arty Niigata: getting your culture fix in snow country photo

Pic Credit here.
Ikeda Art Museum


The small town of Urasa, right in the heart of snow country, has an art museum all of its’ own. What makes this museum particularly fascinating though is that it merges both sport and art. One of the permanent exhibitions here is all about Japanese sport culture, with a focus on baseball, sumo wrestling, and the Olympic Games. If you know anyone who was ever into collecting baseball cards, there’s exhibits dedicated to those, as well as signed bats and baseball gloves on display. Even if you’re not a huge sports fan there’s plenty to pique your interest, including a temporary exhibit right now all about historical Japanese photography. The museum also has a small shop and cafe, which gives you beautiful views across the surrounding Yairo No Mori park.

Genbi Shinkansen

Runs from Echigo Yuzawa to Niigata City and vice versa

One of the most unique art-loving experiences in Niigata has to be on board the Genbi Shinkansen. If you have the idea that art galleries are stuffy or snooty, this will revamp your opinion - at lightning fast speeds! The shinkansen is a moving art gallery, hosting works from a number of different artists. As well as the art, they’ve also got an on board cafe that has coffee and eats that are locally sourced. The Genbi Shinkansen runs predominantly on weekends, but there are occasional weekday trips that run as well. For more details about the available departure dates check out the Genbi Shinkansen website here.

Arty Niigata: getting your culture fix in snow country photo

Niigata Prefectural Museum of Modern Art


The Niigata Prefectural Museum of Modern Art was opened back in the early 1990’s, and houses a host of different exhibits. Right now, one of the most fun things to check out is the special exhibition all about Walt Disney, called “The Magic of Animation” -- it has been running since the 17th of February and goes through to the 13th of May. Regular museum admission is 430 yen, but the Disney special exhibition has an additional fee of 1500 yen - if you’re interested there is more information about The Magic of Animation here. If you do miss the Niigata exhibit though, it will next be held at the Miyagi Museum of Art in Sendai from June 18th until September 30th of this year.

Arty Niigata: getting your culture fix in snow country photo



After spending the last several years in the beating heart of Tokyo, I will be spending the next three in the countryside of Japan. I adore this country and all it has to offer - and I'm always learning more and more about life here as I go along!


  • Tomuu

    on Mar 13

    Tokomachi is a great place to have a look around. Beautiful countryside and it's really fun to stumble across all the art instillations in the fields and forests and on the mountainsides. Highly recommended.

  • genkidesu

    on Mar 13

    @Tomuu I’m going this summer! Really looking forward to it (and I’ll be sure to take pictures and recap it on here!)