Translated by Shinji Takaramura
Reborn-Art Festival 2019: An Inspired Event For Tohoku Earthquake Recovery
Reborn-Art Festival 2019 is held in Ishinomaki City and Oshika Peninsula in Miyagi Prefecture from August 3 to September 29. The site, surrounded by the rugged Tohoku Region, is a chance to enjoy artwork by famous artists, fine food, and reconsider post-disaster life in Japan.
Written by Misa Dobashi
Five Amazing Sights and Activities at Reborn-Art Festival 2019
The Great East Japan Earthquake, which occurred in the Tohoku Region on March 11, 2011, resulted in casualties of over 18,000 people. The land was also greatly damaged, including the areas of Ishinomaki City and Oshika Peninsula.
This festival was started to provoke thinking about how to cope with and heal post-disaster. Around 260,000 people visited the first festival held in 2017. The theme of the second festival in 2019 is "Texture of Life," held from August 3 to September 29, 2019.
The festival venue itself was striken with disaster in 2011, but visitors will discover new value in the land through the art. This article introduces what exhibits, events, and highlights to enjoy at this one-of-a-kind festival.
1. Momonoura Area - Hope for the Future
Momonoura is a small fishing village thriving in oyster farming, located on the northwestern part of the Oshika Peninsula. This exhibition site curated by Kobayashi Takeshi, who helps manage the popular Japanese band, Mr. Children.
The picture above shows "A Guide to a New Space 2016" by Yayoi Kusama. The artwork seems to radiate strength through its red colors, reminiscent of a burning flame. The tabunoki (an evergreen tree) in the backdrop symbolizes the powerful presence of nature that has existed with humans for thousands of years.
Masuda Sebastian is an artist whose work often surrounds Japanese "kawaii" culture. In "The Secret of the Gaping Hole," the visitor walks into a colorful area after descending a spiral staircase and opening a small door.
The clear blue sky stands out in this artificial space and looks like an entrance into a new world; the sky will give you a sense of courage and energy when you look at it from this angle.
"Mirror," a work by the London-based artist Anish Kapoor, is displayed at a closed elementary school. The reflection changes according to where the viewers are standing, making them wonder if they have turned into something different.
Human beings change through time, place, and also in response to the people surrounding them. Although one must adapt to survive, the change also comes with a sense of fleetingness. This piece evokes that kind of ambiguity.
Access to Momonoura
Route 1: A thirty-minute car ride from Ishinomaki Station.
Makiyama Road → National Road 398 → Prefectural Road 2 → Momonoura
Route 2: From Ishinomaki Station, take the Miyagi Kotsu Ayukawa Line bus, and get off at Momonoura bus stop. The ride takes about 45 minutes.
2. Ajishima Area - Enjoy the Surroundings
Ajishima is an island with a perimeter of twenty kilometers, and a population of around 400 residents. It has a subtropical environment, which is quite unique in the Tohoku Region.
Watari Etsuko and Watari Koichi, director and CEO, respectively, of Watari Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo, are the curators for this site, dotted with 21 works of art.
Philippe Parreno, an Algerian-born artist based in Paris, is the creator of "Le Mont Analogue," a work inspired by the uncompleted sci-fi novel of the same title by the French poet Renè Daumal.
The sound of the novel being read and other various sounds and songs fill the room. The effect from the light and mirror turns the whole building into an installation.
The light shines when the window resonates with the sound as if the building is making a statement. This artwork, stimulating the visitors' senses, will make them ponder on the meaning of sound.
Ishige Kenta, the artist of "The Foreshore," was born in 1994. The piece employs sound and image, combining the events of the earthquake with the history of the flotsam washed ashore on the island.
The artwork, located inside a former shrine office, invites observers to think about the passage of time, their own lives, and the ferocity of nature.
Access to Ajishima
From the ports near Ishinomaki Station, it takes about an hour by boat to Ajishima. From Ayukawa Port, the ride takes twenty minutes. Please refer to the Ajishima Line timetable (Japanese). On the island, take the Oshika Municipal Bus, which runs in accordance with the timetable of the boats. The fare is 200 yen for junior high students and over.
The exhibition at Ajishima starts August 20. The boat service may be cancelled due to the weather, so be sure to check the twitter (Japanese).
3. Oginohama Area - Feel Primeval Powers
Oginohama is famous for its beach paved with seashells. There is also a cave nearby, which is said to have been dug by the Japanese Imperial Navy, to store torpedoes. This is an area with a unique history.
"White Deer (Oshika) 2017" by Nawa Kohei, stands on the beach.
In ancient Japan, deer were regarded as a messenger of the deities and co-existed with the inhabitants. In modern times, they are regarded as pests by many for causing damage to local products. This work expresses the creature's power, along with the will to rebel against human beings.
Reborn-Art Dining (Japanese), a restaurant scheduled to open from 11:00 to 17:00, is also located nearby. Chefs from all over Japan are gathered at this site, to serve dishes made from Tohoku products. The restaurant has thirty seats and is run on a first-come, first-served basis. This is the place to enjoy dining while viewing the artwork.
"Parasitism/Mushroom/2019" by Imamura Hajime is a huge metal mushroom placed on top of a withered tree. The composition of this work is very special.
One being, which is about to die, passes its energy to another existence. This artwork is about new evolution, which starts by relying on another existence.
Access to Oginohama
Route 1: A 35-minute car ride from Ishinomaki Station.
Makiyama Road → National Road 398 → Prefectural Road 2 → Oginohama
Route 2: From Ishinomaki Station, take the Miyagi Kotsu Ayukawa Line bus, and get off at Oginohama bus stop. The ride takes about an hour.
4. Food Adventure - Savor Local Ingredients
Ishinomaki Food Adventure is hosted by Jerome Waag and Harakawa Shinichiro, two food industry professionals. Participants will take a nature and food tour in the area to discover and appreciate local ingredients and dishes.
Waag and Harakawa are owners of the Blind Donkey, a restaurant in Kanda, Tokyo.
On the tour, you can try activities like walking the hills alongside a deer hunter or going out with the fishermen. For further information, please check the Food Adventure page of the Reborn-Art Festival (RAF) 2019 website.
5. Overnight Tour
An overnight tour of the Momonoura Area is held on the weekends at the former Oginohama Elementary School. Participants tour the beach at night and can also appreciate the artwork. The fee is 9,000 yen per person, which includes lodging, dinner, and breakfast the next morning.
For details, please check the overnight event on the RAF 2019 website.
Event Passport and Access
Visitors must purchase an event passport to see the artwork. The price is 3,000 yen for adults, and 2,500 yen for university and high school students. You can purchase it below from MATCHA.
Please note that exhibitions are closed on Wednesdays.
Most of the exhibition sites are located away from Ishinomaki Station, so visitors are encouraged to use rental car, or take an official bus tour.
There are more exhibits to enjoy at the festival in addition to the ones mentioned above. Be sure to visit and discover the charms and resilience of the Tohoku Region through this inspired art.
Reborn-Art Festival 2019 at Oshika Peninsula、Ajishima、Ishinomaki City area、Matsushima Port （Ishinomaki, Shiogama, Higashi Matsushima, Matsushima Port, Jogawamachi）
In cooperation with the Reborn-Art Festival Executive Committee.