Morito Yoshida, Art Director
Sado Island is Japan’s largest outlying island in the Japan Sea. It is often called Butterfly Island due to its unique shape: parallel mountain ranges that run northeast to southwest–Osado on the north and Kosado on the south–and between them the Kuninaka Plains, the island’s breadbasket. The region stretching from the Itoigawa-Shizuoka Tectonic Line through the west side of Sado and up to Okushiri Island in Hokkaido is known as a seismically active area. Due to the Tsushima Current, the climate is cooler than the mainland during summer, and warmer in the winter, making the island a home to a wide variety of flora and marine life.
Sado was once famous as a gold-producing region, and played a role in shaping not only the Japanese economy but also the international economy. It was a land where flocks of Japanese crested ibis graced the sky. It was also the island of exile for such historical figures as Emperor Juntoku, who was exiled after the Jokyu War, and the playwright Zeami, who had fallen out of favor with shogun Ashikaga Yoshinori. And it was a port of call for the kitamaebune (northern-bound ships) that sailed the shipping route connecting the Kansai Region, Hokuriku Region, and Hokkaido. Throughout the ages, Sado has existed amid a flow of people and things. It cultivated unique performing arts and culture, such as Noh theater and Ondeko (deity drum dance), which continue to be passed on today, and remains a sanctuary for the distinct lifestyle and Japanese traditions that took root here.
The Sado Island Galaxy Art Festival aims to be an art festival where artists both local and from outside the island become intermediaries: interpreters who take in Sado’s nature, history, and folklore; rediscover the charm of the land, the way of living, and the people; who then work together with staff and supporters from the island and beyond to not only rediscover this storied land, but also bring into being unconventional exhibit spaces that promote and foster art. In these times when our world is faced with many threats–civil war and terrorism, poverty, climate change and pollution–I hope this art festival on Sado can be a sanctuary for diverse values. Don’t just set out for the art exhibits–take this opportunity to explore the island. And who knows, it may remind you of something you weren’t aware you’d lost or forgotten. I have no doubt you will leave with experiences you will never forget. When night falls, you’ll be greeted by a star-filled sky. I hope our festival becomes your escape from the hustle and bustle–where you can lose yourself to the island’s rhythms, and contemplate your place in this world.
The aim of the 2019 Sado Island Galaxy Art Festival is to capture the brilliant glimmer of the galaxy and form new values of beauty within a creative space inspired both from within Sado Island—its nature, history, and the folklore and tales scattered throughout the land—and without. Events and exhibitions will be held in various locations that show off a different side of Sado not often seen by tourists. By visiting these spots, including temples, shrines, a fishing harbor, a disused school, a boathouse, and rice terrace, we hope that participants and visitors alike will gain a deeper understanding of the island.