Artist adds colorful touch to countryside station in western Japan

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The interior of JR Kii-Arita Station painted by artist Yume Matsuo

KUSHIMOTO, Wakayama — A local artist finished painting a quaint little train station in Kushimoto, Wakayama Prefecture six years after starting the project, customizing nearly the entire structure in colorful swirls.

Using her unique touch to render the town’s natural environment, Yume Matsuo, a 36-year-old artist hailing from Wakayama, finally completed painting the entire building of West Japan Railway Company(JR West)’s Kii-Arita Station.

“This station has become a very special place for me,” Matsuo said, adding, “I hope many people will come to see the artwork.”

As an aspiring artist who had drawn for many years, Matsuo began her creative activities in earnest in 2015 under the name Artist : Matsuo after working as a company employee and at other jobs. She began painting Kii-Arita Station the following year while participating in Kinokuni Trainart, a West Japan Railway Company (JR West) art event featuring the Kisei Line.

Matsuo was unfamiliar with Kushimoto, but was taken by the beauty of the town’s seascapes while snorkeling. During her dives, she saw colonies of table corals on the seabed in the clear water and colorful tropical fish swimming gracefully around the coral.

“It was amazing. I didn’t know such scenery existed in Wakayama Prefecture,” Matsuo said.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Yume Matsuo paints at Kushimoto Marine Park in Kushimoto, Wakayama Prefecture.

Matsuo sojourned in the town on four occasions for one month each time until 2021 to paint the station as part of the Trainart event.

The work is titled “E? Konna tokoro ni konna eki?” (What? This station in this place?), and nearly the entire station — including the ceiling, flooring of the waiting room, platform, and interior and exterior walls — is her canvas.

The paintings feature an abundance of natural scenes, such as the vast ocean and deep green mountains. Using water-based paint in blue and green hues, Matsuo incorporated many motifs featuring her favorite shape: the circle.

Feeling that the work was not quite complete, Matsuo stayed in Kushimoto for about a month from September to finish it, even though the Trainart event ended last year.

“I can finally call it finished,” Matsuo said.

After the work was done, Matsuo held live painting performances at Kushimoto Marine Park, which is near the station. Over the course of three weeks, she painted sea creatures and other subjects on a 2-meter-long by 2.5-meter-wide canvas. The painting will be on display through Jan. 31.

“I honed my skills painting [the station],” she said. “I hope [my artwork] will help promote the station as well as the charms of Kushimoto.”

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The exterior of JR Kii-Arita Station, as painted by Yume Matsuo