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Hidetoshi Nakata travels around Fukushima <#06> Arriving in Fukushima – “Reconstruction and Art”

Hidetoshi Nakata travels around Fukushima <#06> Arriving in Fukushima - “Reconstruction and Art”

A grand project is underway in Iwaki – 99,000 cherry trees are being planted in the mountains for future generations. We visited the site of the project, called “Project to Plant Ten Thousand Cherry Blossom Trees” which involves a world-renowned artist.

Sakura trees as far as the eyes can see – a 250-year project

The “Project to Plant Ten Thousand Cherry Blossom Trees” started just two months after the Great East Japan Earthquake, bringing together the hopes and passion of the local people. The project is led by Tadashige Shiga who appears as a character in a nonfiction novel written by award winning writer Ario Kawauchi, as the “amazing man from Iwaki”.

We traveled to an elevated location that overlooked rice fields. From there, a wooden corridor extending 160 meters stretches out like a dragon. A sign at the entrance to the corridor says, “Iwaki Snake Museum of Corridor Art”. Nakata stops in front of a photo in the museum.
“Is this a piece by Cai?”
Shiga nods.
“This is a piece titled `Gift from Iwaki` that has been displayed around the world. Some of us always go to an exhibition site each time to help set it up. It might just be that Cai wants to hang out with us.”
Shiga smiled as he spoke about his friend Kokkyo Cai, and how they decided to build the museum together in this particular location.

Kokkyo Cai is a modern artist originally from Fukken, China and calls Iwaki his second home. He currently resides in New York creating his art all around the world.
About thirty years ago, when he was just starting out as an artist while studying at Tsukuba University, he had the opportunity to hold a private exhibition in Iwaki. Shiga purchased one of the pieces, and they have been friends ever since, even after Cai became known globally.
After the natural disaster 7 years ago, Cai rushed to Iwaki to help. He heard about the Ten Thousand Cherry Blossom Tree project and suggested building a museum.

“In order to plant Sakura trees, the original trees need to be removed. After the earthquake, lumber prices took a beating. Someone suggested we use the lumber for the museum. The corridor shape makes it easy to maintain.”
Cai created the rendering and 400 volunteers spend 6 months building the corridor. When we visited, there were 4 Cai art pieces on display, and the corridor was surrounded by an outdoor stage, tree house, swings and other outdoor pieces created by Shiga and other volunteers. They are also building a cafe space and library.

400 to 500 Sakura trees are planted every year, and more than 4000 have been planted so far. But that is only a very small portion of their ultimate goal. It will most likely take 200 to 250 years, Shiga commented.
“Ultimately, we hope to have the Sakura trees surrounding this rice field.”
Nakata looked in the direction Shiga pointed, and said “The scenery is astounding.”
“The idea of a museum that continues to evolve is quite interesting, and since the location is carries the passion of so many, we should think of a way for more people to become aware of it.”
“How about a fall harvest festival in this beautiful field?”
Their discussions continued well into the evening as they sat around the fire.

●Iwaki Snake Museum of Corridor Art
7 Chisosaku, Tairanakakabeya, Iwaki, Fukushima

●Iwaki Project to Plant Ten Thousand Cherry Blossom Trees

●Iwaki Ten Thousand Cherry Blossom Tress info(twitter)


Iwaki Snake Museum of Corridor Art
7 Chisosaku, Tairanakakabeya, Iwaki, Fukushima