From the floor to the wall to the ceiling to the beams, every surface of the interior space of the Shedding House has been carved by hand, transforming the entire house into an artwork. Soot from the irori (hearth) and kamado (kitchen stove) turned the inside surfaces of the house black. By carving the surface of this 150-year-old minka house the artist and students from the sculpture course at the Fine Arts Department of Nihon University College of Art revealed hidden dimensions of the building and turned it into an artwork.
Taking approximately two and half years and the labour of 3000 mandays in total to complete, the space embraces visitors with an overwhelming power.
Occupy the entire house with friends or family and enjoy staying overnight in the village.
“This house, which had survived here for 200 years, was falling into ruin. I wanted to show my appreciation to a place that had remained unchanged while I lived my life in the ever-changing city. Shedding House has set a new clock for marking time, so that those who carved the house actually “shed” themselves.” Junichi Kurakake, Quotation from Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale 2006 Catalogue
Toge village, where Shedding House stands, is located on the border between Tokamachi-city and Joetsu-city. It is one of the areas that receives heavy snowfall in winter and the majority of its residents are full-time farmers producing rice in the terraced rice field of Hoshitoge.
At the third edition of Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale in 2006, Junichi Kurakake and students from the sculpture course at Nihon University College of Art carved every surface of this wooden minka house, built over 150 years ago deep in snow country. They used chisels and carved floors, walls, and pillars, exposing a fresh layer of the house and transformed it into an artwork. From planning and creation to completion took approximately two-and-a-half years, involving a total of 3000 mandays, and the core members of the artist group stayed over 160 days in Echigo-Tsumari during the process. Through this approach of carving an entire house, they opened up spaces that had been enclosed within the structure, revitalising the abandoned house and transforming it into an artwork.
The Toge village, where Shedding House stands, is famous for its landscape of “Terraced rice fields of Hoshitoge,” a rice field cultivated along the slopes of a mountain making a kind of giant staircase. There is little space for using machinery, and being a rain-fed rice paddy field it requires lots of manual labour to maintain, but it produces especially delicious rice. Snow over three-meters deep, a large temperature swing from daytime to nighttime, and snowmelt water soaking into the mountains result in a premium rice crop. The vista is about fifteen minutes walk from Shedding House, we recommend you to visit in the morning in the fresh air. If the season is right, you may be able to see a sea of silky clouds covering the terraced fields, called “unkai”.