Posted by: soniahs | November 19, 2012

Art along the Shinano River, Niigata City

On our last day in Niigata, I took a walk along the Shinano River to sightsee. It was nice and sunny- a pretty day, in contrast to the drizzly weather we’d been having on this final part of our trip to Japan.

A woman in a traditional outfit rides by the park. (Photo: Y. Fernandez)

In the morning, we checked out of our hotel, stashed our luggage at the train station luggage lockers, and bought some breakfast pastries. We ate these in the park near the Toki Messe convention center, enjoying the pleasant morning.

Mouth of the Shinano. The amount of rain we’d been having was really evident in the color of the water. (Photo: Y. Fernandez)

Before Yan went to his final day of meetings, we popped up to the observation deck at the top of the convention center. We took some photos of town and then became acquainted with the local food mascots- soybean-based crackers. It’s traditional in Japan for different regions to have food specialties, and today it’s pretty common for that to be taken to extremes- the Befco twins (who knows what their true relationship backstory is, though) are apparently the mascots of the convention center itself.

Soy-based mascot food of the convention center. (Photo: Y. Fernandez)

I’ve mentioned before that the area around the Shinano River is built on fill. Because of liquefaction during the last major earthquake, a lot of the most vulnerable area along the river bank is now a public park. There was a large sign in Japanese, Russian, and English in the park explaining that the bank was graded at angles that supposedly will help protect the surrounding buildings when another quake strikes. Even though the park was part of the city’s earthquake defenses, it was still a pretty place to walk.

Banks of the Shinano.

Along the way, I encountered an interesting public art installation-or so I gathered-that seemed to be part of the city’s summer cultural events.

People were clearly enjoying the sunny day.

Entrance to the structure.

It was a large hut made of bamboo that you could walk into- so I did. The entire structure was woven from bamboo. It was a little disconcerting to be walking on the thin wooden slats as they crackled underfoot and I could see the ground fairly far beneath me. But it was definitely an interesting experience.

View from the inside.

This might have been a neat place to sit and watch the light change during the day.

Open hole in the peak of the roof.

Probably the most unexpected thing I saw on my walk-even odder than the Befco crackers or the Inu-Yasha bus-I spotted in a shopping center hallway while looking for a place to grab lunch. It was a sort-of Andy Warhol-styled poster of King David Kalākaua. I’m still not sure what to make of it:




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  2. […] sad to say that I didn’t see Niigata’s lovable soybean-based mascots in the video, but I think I caught a glimpse of […]


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