Dogo Onsen, the oldest hot springs in Japan.
Using the hot springs as its stage, Dogo Art is an art festival that unfolds in the town of Dogo under the intriguing slogan, ”Get Dizzy With Art”.
Dogo Art 2016’s main artist at “Machiaruki Tabinosuke Dogo Onsen no Maki” is Akira Yamaguchi.
Using styles from Yamato-e and Ukiyo-e, among others, he creates a world view characterized by blending everyday and fantasy concepts, and actual and fictitious viewpoints… If you take a look at his work, you’ll have a clearer understanding of what I mean. Here are some examples:
“Hikoki Hyakuchinzu” is on display on the second floor of Kami no Yu of Dogo Onsen’s main building. An illustration depicting Narita International Airport from a viewpoint higher than an airplane, it gives you a somewhat peculiar feeling. Although it looks modern, at the same time it also looks like something from long ago, and the line between fantasy and reality is somewhat blurred.
There is a large bathing area on the second floor of the plane…
This is the three set telephone pole series wall scrolls, which are also located in the main building. All the poles contain things with deep connections to Dogo Onsen.
And here’s another bath.
For the other two, please go and have a look at them with your own eyes. After having a bath, I looked blankly at the illustrations, and got a peculiar feeling that made me feel even more dazed.
Though I didn’t notice it, an installation work has also apparently been placed on the second floor of Dogo Onsen’s main building’s Tama no Yu.
When I asked the staff about it, they told me that most people don’t notice it. A work that is unnoticed by most… how carefree!!
Carrying a copy of the Dogo Etranger Map (limited edition), I leave the Dogo Onsen main building behind and go for a walk around Dogo town.
The subtitle of the work is “Goku shitekina meishi guide” (‘Quite a personal guide to unique sights’). As I flip through the pages, I see that Dogo’s 100 most famous spots have been illustrated by Akira Yamaguchi. He has also added “quite personal” comments in speech bubbles!
Named “the streamlet at the back”, the back of this ordinary hotel is one of the 100 famous sights chosen by Mr. Yamaguchi. In the speech bubble it says:
“The careless feel of the rear is much more interesting than the exaggeratedly demure front. The building lacks the right amount of harmony, but during the morning when the sun shines on the streamlet, it is quite a lovely sight.”
A view that doesn’t appear to hold anything of particular value suddenly feels somehow precious…
Commenting on the famous Isawani Shrine, he writes, “After getting off the train I saw a flight of stone stairs. I thought it would be tough to climb them, so I was taken to the top by car. Because of this, I started to think that it would have been more pleasant to climb the stairs.”
It feels as if you’re taking a walk around Dogo with Mr. Yamaguchi, and it’s really addictive! After the soon-to-be-distributed stock of free color versions run out, the guide will be available to purchase at JPY200, so you should be able to enjoy an even more colorful walk around Dogo!
The number of works on display will increase as the second and third parts of the exhibition are launched. In addition to the illustrations, they may (or may not) build “telephone pole like things”, but the town of Dogo will be decorated with Akira Yamaguchi’s works, which are full of irony and humor. It’s almost complete!
Do come by to have a look at the slightly different Dogo Art 2016!
Name: Machiaruki Tabinosuke Dogo Onsen no Maki Akira Yamaguchi Dogo Art 2016
Venue: Dogo Onsen and its surrounding areas
Exhibition period: April 29, 2016- February 28, 2017 (The works are due to be displayed until the end of August 2017)
First part opened: April 29, 2016
Second part opening scheduled: July 2016
Third part opening scheduled: September 2016
*The works on display will gradually increase during the exhibition period.
Organizer: Dogo Art Action Committee
URL：www.dogo-art.com (Japanese – English still under construction)
Akira Yamaguchi Profile
Born in 1969 in Tokyo, and raised in Kiryu city, Gunma prefecture, Mr. Yamaguchi finished a master’s course majoring in painting (oil painting) at the Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music in 1996. In 2013, he won the 12th Kobayashi Hideo prize with his book, “Strange Japanese Art History” (Shodensha). From illustrations depicting bird’s eye view maps of cities and battles, to sculptures, manga and installations, Mr. Yamaguchi’s utilizes a wide range of expression methods in his work. His major exhibitions include TOKIORE(I)MIX (Maison Hermès 8F Le Forum, Tokyo), “YAMAGUCHI Akira: Stepping Back to Seek the Underneath” (Contemporary Art Gallery, Art Tower Mito, Ibaraki), etc. He has also actively expanded out in a wide variety of art activities including public art for Narita International Airport and the Nishiwaseda train station on the Fukutoshin line. Recent works include “The Big Picture Akira Yamaguchi” (Seigensha) and “Fujimori Terunobu × Yamaguchi Akira, Japanese Architecture Intensive Course” (Tankosha Publishing).
Setouchi Finder Photo-writer: Masafumi Fujimoto
Masafumi Fujimoto Hi there! My name is Masafumi Fujimoto. Until the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011, I was engaged in editing production at an advertising company in Tokyo. However, the earthquake was a turning point in my life and I headed home to Yamaguchi. When I arrived, I was extremely energized and motivated to help revitalize the region, but I had a hard time adjusting to the motivation level of the local people. Around that time I met an elderly lady who said: "It doesn't matter if all the people move away from the island; that's just the nature of things. Someday people will come back again." Lessening the tension I’d been feeling, those few words relieved me hugely, and I was able to finally adjust. Since then, I've been involved in writing and editing magazines, and working in advertisement production, as well as doing a little bit of farming. I also spend time walking around Setouchi searching for the many, many voices out there.
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