【Echigo Tsumari】James Turrell’s House of Light, changes with the sky…


“House of Light” was created by James Turrell in 2000 for the first Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale. You can visit to appreciate the art works at this house built in traditional Japanese style, but since this is also an accommodation facility, visit time is limited from 11:30 to 15:00.

There is a reception desk in front of the building to buy the admission ticket. I don’t know if this is the case every time, but when I visited, the person who sold the ticket also accompanied me and showed the artworks.

The house is a two-story building and since the entrance is on the second floor, we first went up the stairs.

Notice the roof… We’ll see later that it’s actually very special!

“Outside in”

After taking off my shoes at the entrance, I was guided to the room on the right. Seen from the outside, as in the picture above, it is the part where the roof is doubled.

The inside of the room looks like this. The upper part of walls and the ceiling are painted white.

If you turn your eyes to the ceiling… You can see a brown square, which actually is the roof itself.

The roof of this room is movable and when the guide opened the roof, the sky appeared on the ceiling in the blink of an eye.

It was a cloudy sky on that day, but the clouds were moving fast. And although I was looking at the sky from the ceiling only for a short time, it was interesting to see the expression changing.

On a clear day, it will be beautiful to see the blue sky from here… However, if it rains, the room will get wet, so you may not be able to open the roof.

What kind of scenery, depends on the weather at that time, and I found it fascinating that not one moment would be the same.

The atmosphere in the corridor was also nice. The bright green is reflected in the corridor and it is beautiful.

“Light Bath”

Next, I moved to the 1st floor and the guide showed me the bathroom. It is illuminated by optical fibers and you can see a beautiful light. But at that time, there was a lot of outside light, so it was hard to see and I didn’t really understand it… Maybe you can see it better if it’s a rainy day… or at night?

It actually looks like this at night!

Image source:House of Light

If “Outside in” (the first room we visited is) is the light that falls from the sky, “Light Bath” is the light within the room. James Turrell made this work because he wanted to look down on the light of water as the light in the room.

There were several other wonderful points, such as the beautiful scenery from the room and the attention to details by James Turrell. You will find it when you actually visit it!

As accommodation

At this point, you may think, “I want to stay in such a wonderful space!” Since it is a building that actually functions as an accommodation facility, it is physically possible, but I personally cannot recommend it. There are several reasons.

Meals issue
Basically, even if you stay overnight, meals are not included or served by the accommodation. Dinner can be arranged at an extra charge, but no breakfast can be provided. Since the kitchen is equipped, you can prepare your own meals, but to do so, you need to prepare ingredients in advance. Also, if you feel a little hungry, it would be nice if there was a store nearby, but there is no convenience store unless you drive for a few minutes.

Staff is not resident
“House of Light” is both an accommodation and an art work, however unlike other accommodations, they don’t have staff staying permanently onsite. Therefore, it is necessary for the customer to do many thinkgs by themselves, such as breakfast, spread and tidy the futon beds, clean up the equipment afterwards, etc. All of this can be tough for foreign customers who do not understand well, how things work in Japan.

Share with up to 3 groups
Since there are 3 bed rooms, the kitchen, living room (Outside in) and bathroom (Light Bath) we may share with other guests. Especially in the bathroom, if you don’t decide the order of entering after consulting with other customers, you may end up in a mess. Other customers may not be familiar with multiple languages ​​such as English, and it may be difficult to communicate.


As it is the work of light artist, James Turrell, there are various shapes of light in every part of the house and it was really interesting. I found that “Outside In” manages to capture the light from the sky in a once-in-a-lifetime occurrence and it is a great attraction for a work of art.

As accommodation facility, I can’t recommend it so much, so it’s best to just visit and enjoy the art work. I think it will be one of the highlights of Echigo Tsumari’s art tour, but due to the limited viewing time, it is also a difficult place depending on the schedule.

“House of Light” is about 20 minutes by car from Museum on Echigo-Tsumari, so it’s a good idea to visit it before or after the museum.

[related id=1416 label=” Please read this too”]

House of Light

Address2891 Uenokou, Tokaichi-shi, NIIGATA
Open Hour11:30 – 15:00
* Visiting hours may change or be unavailable according to the period. Please make inquiries at the staff.
Admission Fee【Adult (Junior high school student or above)】600 yen
【Elementary school student】300 yen