Bullet Train Converted Into Art Gallery, Touted As World’s Fastest Art Experience

You may have admired contemporary art on solid ground, but have you ever done that on a moving train?

Art lovers will now have the opportunity of doing exactly that.

Japan’s Genbi Shinkansen, a “contemporary art bullet train,” has hit the rails today in all its “artful” glory.

A veritable art gallery on wheels, Genbi Shinkansen is touted as the “world’s fastest art experience.”

The shinkansen (bullet train) has been introduced by East Japan Railway Company and will run on weekends and holidays between Niigata and Echigo-Yuzawa stations, the Asahi Shimbun reported.

The interiors and exteriors of the bullet train display artwork of six Japanese artists, one American artist, and one Japanese “art unit.”

The contributing artists are Nao Matsumoto, Yusuke Komuta, Kentaro Kobuke, Haruka Kojin, Naoki Ishikawa, and Mika Ninagawa from Japan; Brian Alfred from the U.S.; and the Japanese art unit Paramodel.

The exterior of the Genbi Shinkansen is decorated with the photographs of Mika Ninagawa, a film director and photographer. The photographs capture the annual firework display in Nagaoka, Niigata prefecture.

This is what Ninagawa has to say about the project, as per the Genbi website.

“I am excited that my pictures will wrap the exterior of a shinkansen. I don’t think that there has ever been a project like this where the actual vehicle for transport turns into one of the trip’s many joys.”

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The Paramodel art unit, comprising artists Yasuhiko Hayashi and Yusuke Nakano, has designed a “kid’s space” for the bullet train and is quite thrilled about the speed factor involved.

“The shinkansen goes up to a speed of 240 km/hour, which means that we will be exhibiting in the world’s fastest museum … Our work merges as the interior of a kid’s space. The train car, which is usually a boring space for most kids, will turn into a fun play spot for them.”

(Click on the post below to play video)

Artist Haruka Kojin has created a “horizontal display of symmetry flower prints suspended by strings,” and according to him his work represents a river wherein “the flower prints shake like the ripple of a stream.”

With a slightly long-winded poetic flourish, Kojin describes his brush with the shinkansen.

“The shinkansen flies through the mountains headed for the city of Niigata. Unknown cities fly by one after the other, and in that moment, sceneries with endless hours squeezed into them pass before my very eyes. Those cityscapes I caught a glance of in between tunnels are all connected by the massive memories of a day and a lifetime within this transient process.”

The special bullet train has six carriages, with one unique thing about all of them — they have windows only on one side. Apart from providing a “fashionable asymmetry,” the window-less side of the carriages is where the art is actually displayed.

Take a look.

Once they have appreciated the art on display, the passengers have the option of taking care of their appetites too. The Genbi Shinkansen has a café on board, with “menu direction” by pastry consultant Romi Igarashi. As per RocketNews24, the café is stocked with Niigata specialities including “Uonuma City’s vanilla cake made from rice flour, Tsubame City’s special coffee, and Sado Island’s cream cheese lemon cake.”

The launch of the bullet train coincides with the beginning of Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale, one of the largest art festivals in the world, held every three years in Niigata.

The “modern art” inspiration for the Genbi Shinkansen comes from this art festival, which aims to “bring people, energy, ideas, money, and ultimately pride to the region, using contemporary art as its chief instrument,” according to the Japan Times.

“We are hoping it will revitalize tourism in the Niigata area,” East Japan Railway official Takahiro Kikuchi told the Japan Times.

Do you prefer your art galleries on solid earth or are they better on rails? Would you travel on Genbi Shinkansen just to appreciate art?

[Image via Tokyo Rail Days Thailand/Facebook]