Epic lantern festival in Niigata rivals the Yi Peng festival in sheer beauty

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RocketNews 24 (by KK Miller):

If you are in Niigata this March, you can live out your Tangled fantasy with a breathtaking view of floating lanterns that rival the beauty of the Disney movie and the festival in Thailand that inspired the film’s iconic scene.

There is a spectacular sequence in Tangled, when we see Rapunzel make her way into a kingdom during its annual lantern festival. The scene from the movie was beautifully crafted, giving us a picturesque but seemingly impossible view of a truly incredible festival. Fans wanted to know if they could experience something like this in real life and the Yi Peng Festival in Thailand comes awfully close, so many have added the wonderful festival to their must-see list and have been flocking to see it.

But it turns out that people in Japan don’t have to go all the way to Southeast Asia to see a lantern festival of that nature; they only have to go to Niigata.

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Tsunanmachi in Niigata Prefecture has been holding a lantern festival since 2012, called the Tsunan Yuki Matsuri (“Tsunan Snow Festival”). This event takes advantage of the small number of tall buildings and electric lines in the area to send up paper lanterns over the course of the night with a grand finale of over 1,000 lanterns being released at the same time. The heavy snowfall in the area, much of which is still on the ground in March, creates serene and silent surroundings as tons of little lights to go floating up into the sky.

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The next festival will be held on Saturday, March 12, 2016 at the New Greenpia Tsunan Ski Area (New Green Peer on Google Maps). There is plenty of free parking and entrance to the festival is also free, though you’ll need to shell out a little bit of cash if you want to send up a lantern yourself.

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If you find yourself near Niigata next March, you owe it to yourself to be in Tsunanmachi.

The Genbi Shinkansen: Japan’s newest bullet train is the world’s fastest gallery, packed with contemporary art inside and out

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RocketNews 24 (by Casey Baseel):

From an engineering standpoint, Japan’s famed Shinkansen is already a work of art. Recently, though, the country’s bullet trains have been putting a renewed effort into their appearance, taking inspiration from centuries-old tradition and science-fiction anime.

The latest Shinkansen to be unveiled, though, incorporates design cues more modern than tatami reed floors yet not as futuristic as giant robots. Instead, it’s envisioned as a travelling gallery of contemporary art, allowing for what operator East Japan Railways calls “the world’s fastest art appreciation.”

A special train needs a special name, and the new Shinkansen has been christened Genbi, combining the kanji gen (), meaning “contemporary,” and bi (), “beauty.” The Genbi Shinkansen will run along the Joetsu Shinkansen line between Niigata and Echigo Yuzawa Stations in Niigata Prefecture.

▼ Fittingly, the kanji used in the Genbi Shinkansen’s logo are heavily stylized.

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Seven of the carriages will be used as art exhibition spaces, with different painters, sculptors, and visual creators represented in each. The contributing artists have been announced as Nao Matsumoto, Yusuke Komuta, Kentaro Kobuke, Naoki Ishikawa, Haruaka Kojin, and Brian Alfred.

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If you’d like your sense of taste to be stimulated along with your sight, there’s also a cafe. On the menu you’ll find sweets made with rice flour from Niigata’s prized (and pricy) Uonuma-grown Koshihikari rice and butter from dairies on Sadogashima Island.

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And it’s not like only passengers inside the train will have something pretty to look at, either. The non-windowed side of the Genbi Shinkansen’s exterior is covered with colorful photographs of Niigata’s Nagaoka Fireworks Festival, one of the largest in Japan, taken by photographer Mika Ninagawa.

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The Genbi Shinkansen goes into service next spring.

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The giant straw sculptures of Japan’s Straw Art Festival

 

Japanese straw sculptures

Laughing Squid/Kotaku:

Kotaku has posted a delightful photo gallery of large scale rice straw sculptures from Japan’s straw art festivals. The festivals are an annual fall tradition in rural Japan, particularly the Kagawa and Niigata prefectures.

Check out this link:

The giant straw sculptures of Japan’s Straw Art Festival

Japan's Straw Beasts Are Huge, Wonderful, and Highly Flammable

Japan's Straw Beasts Are Huge, Wonderful, and Highly Flammable

Japan's Straw Beasts Are Huge, Wonderful, and Highly Flammable

Japan's Straw Beasts Are Huge, Wonderful, and Highly Flammable

Japan's Straw Beasts Are Huge, Wonderful, and Highly Flammable

Japan's Straw Beasts Are Huge, Wonderful, and Highly Flammable

Japan's Straw Beasts Are Huge, Wonderful, and Highly Flammable

Japan's Straw Beasts Are Huge, Wonderful, and Highly Flammable

Japan's Straw Beasts Are Huge, Wonderful, and Highly Flammable

Japan's Straw Beasts Are Huge, Wonderful, and Highly Flammable

Japan's Straw Beasts Are Huge, Wonderful, and Highly Flammable

Japan's Straw Beasts Are Huge, Wonderful, and Highly Flammable

Japan's Straw Beasts Are Huge, Wonderful, and Highly Flammable

Japan's Straw Beasts Are Huge, Wonderful, and Highly Flammable

Japan's Straw Beasts Are Huge, Wonderful, and Highly Flammable

Japan's Straw Beasts Are Huge, Wonderful, and Highly Flammable

Japan's Straw Beasts Are Huge, Wonderful, and Highly Flammable

Link

U.S. based sculptor Minoru Ohira receives this year’s Hirakushi award

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California-based sculptor Minoru Ohira has received this year’s Denchu Hirakushi Award for his works employing materials such as construction waste and dead branches.

Ohira is the first artist residing outside Japan to win the prestigious award, which was established in 1971 with funds donated by Denchu Hirakushi, an influential artist who continued to create sculptures until he died in 1979 at the age of 107.

Don’t you think it’s wonderful to see things that were once disposed of and dead recover as art?” Ohira said in an interview when he was in Japan recently.

He was referring to art created by indigenous people in Mexico using waste materials and spare cloth.

After obtaining a master’s degree in art education at Tokyo University of the Arts, Ohira went to Mexico at the age of 28 to study there. Three years later, he moved to Los Angeles to concentrate on creative activities.

He can basically work anywhere, though, because “material costs are almost nothing and the only tools are my fingers,” he said.

One art critic said Ohira’s work “finds its roots in the image of thatched roofs in the village of Kurokawa in Niigata Prefecture where he was born and grew up.”

Ohira said after receiving the award that he was reminded of a phrase used by Denchu Hirakushi in a book: “Men in their 60s and 70s are still runny-nosed kids and a real man should be 100 years or older.

I believe I’ve just reached the starting point as a sculptor,” Ohira said. “I’m not sure if I can make it to 100, but I always try to stay healthy.

His works are exhibited or housed in museums and facilities across Japan, including Niigata City Art Museum, the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo and Asahikawa Museum of Art in Hokkaido, as well as abroad in Taiwan, Thailand, Mexico and Australia in addition to various U.S. states.

In 2009, Ohira received the Teijiro Nakahara Award for sculptures by Japanese artists.

Check out this link:

U.S. based sculptor Minoru Ohira receives this year’s Hirakushi award

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