OEN Issue 2 – A Visit to the House of Light by James Turrell

“If you want something, work for it.” Even if true, these comments can be frustrating when you are stuck in the midst of it. In a way, it reminded me of my trip to the ‘House of Light’ designed by American artist James Turrell. Situated West of Tokyo, the city of Tokamachi is awkward to get to from both sides of Japan and would probably discourage most from making the journey. With effort and perseverance though, there’s the possibility of a revelation, sparking something inside you that certainly makes such a journey worthwhile.

Even in April, snow top mountains set the tone of the landscape. A beautiful, idyllic nature that’s hard to describe. As you shuttle along via the local train you arrive in Tokamachi, a small city highly regarded for the production of silk and a popular type of rice called ‘Koshihikari’. My taxi driver, a friendly local, explained more about the area and informed me of the rarity of the snow at this time of the year. Even though cold, it’s a picturesque setting that offered a fascinating contrast to the extensive blossoms in Tokyo.

As we pulled up to ‘Hikari no Yakata’, aka The House of Light, it’s not im- mediately apparent what the build- ing’s purpose is. With the appearance of a traditional Japanese home, a dark wood covers the exterior with only a hint of something unusual placed on its roof. What could it be? …

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