Sean's Japan Travel Journal
by Sean, staff writer of

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2013/09/13 - Nakanojo Biennale 2013

Tell me the truth

The Nakanojo Biennale 2013 is held from September 13 to October 14, 2013
(open 9:30 to 17:00 except on Thursdays)

About two hours by train north of Tokyo, in the forested, hot spring dotted, mountainous northern region of Gunma Prefecture is a town called Nakanojo. Once every two years, the town holds the Nakanojo Biennale, an art festival whereby various contemporary artworks, mostly by artists from the Kanto Region, are installed at venues distributed across the town. During the one month festival, many art events are also held in conjunction with the exhibits. This year marks the fourth edition of the Nakanojo Biennale; some popular art pieces from past festivals have been preserved and are showcased alongside the new works.

9:15. Fifteen minutes before the respective art venues open their doors, I was at the Tsumuji venue, close to the town center of Nakanojo, ready to buy my passport to the exhibits (1000 yen). There was a healthy crowd despite it being a weekday morning. The organizers must have been happy: In recent years, Nakanojo has seen a steady decrease in population as the young leave for big cities in search for better opportunities. The festival's aim is to remind people of the town's rustic charm; to rekindle feelings towards and draw visitors to rural Japan.

Festival passport and guide book

With my passport in my left hand and the complementary festival guide book in my right, I headed purposefully through the streets of rural Nakanojo, hoping to visit as many of the art destinations (close to 40) as possible before their closure at 17:00. I had a great time exploring bucolic Nakanojo. The art venues were created from former warehouses, old houses, decommissioned facilities, abandoned buildings and the like, lending a nostalgic appeal to the artworks.

Some practical information: The gateway to Nakanojo town is Nakanojo Station, which can be accessed from Tokyo by shinkansen to Takasaki, where you have to transfer to a local train on the JR Agatsuma Line (whole journey takes about two hours, 5000 yen, one connection per hour). There are also two limited express trains per day that run directly from Tokyo's Ueno Station to Nakanojo Station (about two hours, 4000 yen). The respective trips are fully covered by the JR Pass, JR East Pass and JR Kanto Area Pass. Some of the art locations can be easily reached on foot from Nakanojo Station; others by infrequent town buses. Rental cars present a convenient option and are recommended for covering more destinations within a day.

A night's stay at Shima Onsen is recommended for the visit. The popular onsen (hot spring) town is home to the famous Sekizenkan bath house cum ryokan, which is also one of the venues for this edition of the Nakanojo Biennale. With that I leave you with a pictorial of my eventful and enjoyable day at Nakanojo.

Tsumuji venue
Art piece at Tsumuji
Street in Nakanojo
Former convenience store
Interesting art piece at the SATORI venue
make a garden at the former Hirozakari Brewery
gold experience
horidashi mono
Red Hermitage
Mount Takeyama provided a nice backdrop for an art venue
Mark 2013 was created on the grounds of a shrine
Spotted a field of Konnyaku (Konjak) on my way to the next destination
understanding at the JA Agatsuma Warehouse venue
Invisible memory
PIXEL works
to infinity and beyond
Under The Sky
Iwamoto-kami old house
Nice countryside scenery
Nakanojo Weather Station 2013
Nakanojo Weather Station 2013
Curry for lunch at the YAMASE venue
Shima Onsen Town
Nostalgic alley
Arriving at the Marui Lumber Yard
spread through SILK
Hut of the clay wall project (Ridge with flower)
Junni-Mimasu (former minshuku)
Former Oshi Station
House of wisdom at the Hikage venue
insatiable happiness

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List of Posts:
2014/05/09 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hakodate
2014/05/08 - Cherry Blossom Report: Matsumae
2014/04/23 - Cherry Blossom Report: Fujigoko
2014/04/17 - Cherry Blossom Report: Takato
2014/04/15 - Cherry Blossom Report: Fujigoko
2014/04/11 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2014/04/10 - Cherry Blossom Report: Yoshino
2014/04/09 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hikone
2014/04/08 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2014/04/05 - Cherry Blossom Report: Matsuyama
2014/04/03 - Cherry Blossom Report: Fukuoka
2014/04/02 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kumamoto
2014/04/01 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2014/03/06 - Shopping around Northern Osaka
2014/01/23 - Nikko in Winter

2013/12/31 - Sean's Travel Highlights 2013
2013/12/06 - Kamakura Report
2013/11/26 - Tokyo Report
2013/11/22 - Kyoto Report
2013/11/21 - Miyajima Report
2013/11/19 - Korankei Report
2013/11/18 - Kyoto Report
2013/11/11 - Sakurayama Report
2013/11/08 - Karuizawa Report
2013/10/29 - Nikko Report
2013/10/18 - Nasu Report
2013/10/17 - Nikko Report
2013/10/14 - Mount Fuji Report
2013/10/10 - Oze Report
2013/09/27 - Alpine Route Report
2013/09/13 - Nakanojo Biennale 2013
2013/08/07 - Exploring Tokyo 2: Around the Tokyo Imperial Palace
2013/05/20 - Tottori Sand Museum 2013
2013/05/07 - Fuji Shibazakura Festival
2013/05/02 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hirosaki
2013/05/01 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kakunodate
2013/04/30 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kitakami
2013/04/23 - Northern Kanto Flower Report
2013/04/17 - Cherry Blossom Report: Takayama
2013/04/12 - Cherry Blossom Report: Matsumoto
2013/04/11 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2013/04/10 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kanazawa
2013/04/09 - Cherry Blossom Report: Yoshino
2013/04/08 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2013/04/04 - Cherry Blossom Report: Gunma
2013/04/02 - Cherry Blossom Report: Osaka
2013/04/01 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2013/03/31 - Visiting Shodoshima for the Setouchi Triennale 2013
2013/03/28 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2013/03/27 - Cherry Blossom Report: Osaka
2013/03/26 - Cherry Blossom Report: Nagoya
2013/03/25 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2013/03/21 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2013/03/12 - Tokyo Early Cherry Blossom Report
2013/02/17 - Tokamachi Snow Festival
2013/02/16 - Zao Snow Monster Report
2013/02/15 - Yokote Kamakura Festival
2013/01/10 - Winter Visit to Manza Onsen
2013/01/02 - Tokyo New Year Report

2012/12/31 - Sean's Travel Highlights 2012
2012/12/11 - Autumn Color Report: Tokyo
2012/11/26 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2012/11/25 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2012/11/21 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2012/11/19 - Autumn Color Report: Takaosan
2012/11/16 - Autumn Color Report: Kyoto
2012/11/15 - Autumn Color Report: Shosenkyo
2012/11/07 - Autumn Color Report: Yamadera
2012/11/06 - Autumn Color Report: Naruko
2012/11/05 - Autumn Color Report: Hiraizumi
2012/11/01 - Autumn Color Report: Kuju
2012/10/26 - Autumn Color Report: Minakami
2012/10/24 - Autumn Color Report: Nikko
2012/10/16 - Autumn Color Report: Norikura
2012/10/12 - Autumn Color Report: Oze
2012/10/09 - Autumn Color Report: Nikko
2012/10/05 - Autumn Color Report: Route 292
2012/09/28 - Autumn Color Report: Kurodake
2012/09/27 - Autumn Color Report: Kogen Onsen
2012/09/26 - Autumn Color Report: Asahidake
2012/09/17 - Exploring Tokyo: Gate Bridge
2012/08/20 - Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial 2012
2012/06/27 - Hiking at Mount Azuma
2012/06/18 - Legoland Discovery Center opens in Odaiba
2012/06/18 - Hydrangea Flowers in Kamakura
2012/06/04 - Tokyo Skytree
2012/05/09 - Cherry Blossom Report: Sapporo
2012/05/08 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hakodate
2012/05/07 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hirosaki
2012/04/30 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hirosaki
2012/04/29 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kakunodate
2012/04/28 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kitakami
2012/04/28 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hiraizumi
2012/04/25 - Cherry Blossom Report: Sendai
2012/04/24 - Cherry Blossom Report: Fukushima
2012/04/15 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kanazawa
2012/04/14 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2012/04/11 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2012/04/10 - Cherry Blossom Report: Hiroshima
2012/04/09 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2012/04/07 - Cherry Blossom Report: Osaka
2012/04/06 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kyoto
2012/04/04 - Cherry Blossom Report: Fukuoka
2012/04/03 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kumamoto
2012/04/02 - Cherry Blossom Report: Kagoshima
2012/03/22 - Cherry Blossom Report: Tokyo
2012/03/08 - Plum Blossom Report from Kairakuen, Mito
2012/03/07 - Trip to Iwaki, Fukushima
2012/02/21 - Plum Blossom Report from Tokyo
2012/01/30 - Skiing in Inawashiro, Fukushima
2012/01/27 - Kusatsu Hot Springs