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Friday, Aug. 1, 2008

Art festival returns to Echigo-Tsumari

Staff Writer

More than 160 modern artworks will grace some 760 sq. km of rural Niigata Prefecture during August at the Echigo-Tsumari Daichi no Matsuri (Festival of the Earth) in the agricultural region of Echigo-Tsumari.

Among the creations by artists from Japan and overseas is an installation by Japanese-Brazilian artist Oscar Satio Oiwa titled "Scarecrow Project," which consists of several human-shaped metal panels dotting terraced rice paddies.

Visitors to the area have the opportunity to stay at the Dream House, a festival- inspired facility created by Marina Abramovic from the former Yugoslavia. Abramovic renovated a 100-year-old Japanese house and converted it into a traditional-style inn. The nightly room charges are ¥6,000 for an adult or ¥3,000 for elementary school children. (Reservations are recommended.)

To see the exhibits, visitors must buy a passport that costs ¥2,000 for adults and ¥1,000 for a elementary- and junior-high-school students. The passport is valid for the entire festival period until Aug. 31. The passports and maps to the festival installations (¥100) are available at information centers at Tokamachi and Matsudai stations (JR Hokuhoku Line), and at nearby Matsudai Nobutai.

From Tokyo, the trip takes 110 minutes by train or three hours by car; From Osaka, five hours by train or six hours by car.

The festival areas are covered by whole-day bus tours that cost ¥4,000 for adults and ¥3,000 for students. (Lunch, passports not included.)

For bus tour information and reservations, call Echigo Kotsu at (0120) 865-615, or the Maruke Ryoko Center at (025) 543-4120.

For festival information, visit www.echigo-tsumari.jp or call Matsudai Nobutai Jimukyoku at (025) 595-6310.

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