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Visiting Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial 2009 is a strange and wonderful journey. A satoyama (mountain homeland) adventure replete with rice paddies brimming with bright green shoots, refurbished abandoned houses and closed-down elementary schools, it features 370 contemporary artworks by little-known and international art-world stars.

The world’s biggest outdoor art exhibition, the festival is aimed at revitalizing communities and set in the basin and hills of the Echigo-Tsumari region of Niigata Prefecture, scattered across 760 sq. km. Like much of rural Japan the region is struggling with an aging and diminishing population in which 25 percent of residents are 65 years and older.

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