Art & Design
Opened in 2008, the Towada Art Center is the focus of the city of Towada's initiative to revitalize itself through art. The concept is to experience artworks that blend in with the surrounding cityscape and nature.
Shichinohe-Towada is the second of three Tohoku Shinkansen stops in Aomori from Tokyo. It is primarily a gateway to Towada City and the lake area. There, you can change to JR buses for Towada.
Towada is in the foothills of the Hakkoda Mountains, and includes the Aomori side of Lake Towada. There are no trains in the Towada area, but JR operates buses every one to two hours from Shichinohe-Towada. Around half of the buses go directly to the museum, while the other half go to the city center, which is around a 10-minute walk to Towada Art Center.
Most of the pieces in the museum's permanent collection—there are only around 30 works—were commissioned especially for Towada Art Center. In addition, there are six works in the public "Art Square" and six more called "Street Furniture."
Despite the relatively small number of pieces, there is a great deal to see and do. Most of the works that are housed inside the museum are in spaces designed especially for them. The building's architecture, designed by architect Ryue Nishizawa, is perfectly matched to the installations, but his design actually encompasses the whole street block.
Since the Arts Towada Project was completely planned, including the Art Center as its main fixture, many of the works were commissioned from famous artists such as Yoko Ono, Ron Mueck and Jeong Hwa Choi.
But the name recognition of the artists themselves is really secondary here. You'll be in awe walking through and among the exhibits. Sitting on the "street furniture", you'll feel like a child again. It's almost more like a park than a museum.
The old main street, Kanchogaidori, (literally “street of government offices”) had become deserted due to population decline. The city and this art project have been largely successful in changing that. The Art Center has not only attracted attention and awards, but an influx of tourism has rejuvenated the city. It has become a source of pride.
Lake Towada is around one hour away, while some parts of Oirase Stream are easily within an hour. The only way to access these, however, is by car.