Lighting installations evoke eternal flow of time

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Egg-shaped objects emit different colors of light as they are pushed by hand or shaken by the wind in the artwork “Autonomous Resonating Life and Resonating Giant Cedar Forest,” creating a fantastic atmosphere at the Kairakuen garden in Mito on Feb. 18.

MITO — A variety of lighting installations are on display at Kairakuen, a well-known viewing spot for ume plum blossoms in Mito.

The event “teamLab: Digitized Kairakuen Garden” was launched by world-renowned digital art group teamLab last year to transform the garden in the springtime — when various types of plum trees bloom at different times — into an interactive lighting art space that changes in response to the presence of people. The latest event started on Feb. 1.

Kairakuen is one of Japan’s three great gardens, along with Kenrokuen in Kanazawa and Korakuen in Okayama. It was created in 1842 during the late Edo period (1603-1867) by Tokugawa Nariaki — the ninth lord of the Mito domain and the father of Tokugawa Yoshinobu, the 15th and last head of the Tokugawa shogunate — as a place of relaxation and enjoyment for himself and the public.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
“Ever Blossoming Life Tree — Giant Taro Cedar” projects images related to the birth and death of flowers on what is believed to be an 800-year-old tree.

With a total area of about 300 hectares, Kairakuen is home to about 3,000 plum trees belonging to about 100 varieties. The park marks its 180th anniversary this summer.

The lighting installation event was held for the first time from March 1 to April 4 last year, and visited by about 120,000 people. The second exhibition features nine works that express the long continuity of life from the past to the present.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
In “Life is Continuous Light — Plum Trees,” trees appear to be aware of the presence of people, so when a person passes by, the vicinity of the person shines strongly.

Numerous egg-shaped objects make up the artwork “Autonomous Resonating Life and Resonating Giant Cedar Forest,” and the color of the light they emit changes when they are pushed by hand or shaken by the wind. The change of colors spreads like ripples, creating a fantastic atmosphere.

Plum trees are illuminated when people walk nearby in “Life is Continuous Light — Plum Trees.” Visitors will feel like the light is spreading through the trees or approaching them.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
“Concrete and Abstract — Between Yin and Yang” is an artwork made on the imaginary border between the worlds of yin and yang, expressing an idea held by Tokugawa Nariaki.

Toshiyuki Inoko, the 44-year-old teamLab founder, said: “I believe that people cannot actually perceive a time longer than their own lives. With the help of Kairakuen, which has been nurtured by nature and human activities over a long period of time, I want to challenge the boundaries of human perception regarding the long continuity of time.”

The exhibition will be held through March 31 from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. A special ticket separate from that to enter Kairakuen is required for the exhibition.

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Figures are seen walking in a bamboo forest in “Walk, Walk, Walk — Moso Bamboo Forest.”

Admission is ¥1,800 for adults, and ¥800 for junior high and high school students. Elementary school students and younger are allowed in for free.

People will be allowed in at staggered intervals, as a measure against the spread of the novel coronavirus.