Local residents, students and government officials gathered to celebrate the Art Island’s trademark sculpture as it was put back in place on Naoshima Island Pier, which is in the Seto Inland Sea. He had been there since 1994.
“Since (the pumpkin) was a symbol of Naoshima, it’s great to see the same work of art installed again in the same place. We are happy to share the joy with the people of Naoshima,” said Yukari Stenlund, spokesperson for Benesse Holdings, the company that manages the sculpture and the rest of the island’s artistic offerings, told CNN Travel.
The sculpture, which is two meters high, 2.5 meters wide and made of fiberglass reinforced plastic, was swept into the sea and broken into three pieces in August 2021.
According to Stenlund, Kusama’s production team opted to create an all-new yellow pumpkin carving – while still staying true to the original – after assessing the extent of the damage.
An unveiling took place on October 4, 2022.
Courtesy of Tadasu Yamamoto
The artist’s production team began work on a new pumpkin earlier this spring and made the sculpture’s outer shell 10% thicker than the original so it could withstand strong waves and wind in the future. Additionally, a hook was built into its shaft so it could be easily dragged to safety if another typhoon struck.
“We hope to display the pumpkin as a symbol of Naoshima’s connection to the world,” Stenlund added, saying that message underpinned the 1994 “Out of Bounds” exhibition, which saw the sculpture first installed on the island.
On the Japanese island of Naoshima, contemporary sculptures dot the landscape, while abandoned houses are transformed into works of art.
Naoshima is a quiet town of 3,200 people, located in the Setouchi Sea, north of Shikoku. With three museums of modern and contemporary art, it is known as an “art island”. The yellow pumpkin, which contrasts with the blue of the sea, has long been a popular site for Instagram photos.
The main way to access the island is a 20-minute ferry ride from Okayama City, which is 50 minutes by bullet train from Osaka.
Pumpkin’s timing couldn’t be better. Japan opens its borders to leisure tourists on October 11, and the Setouchi Art Festival runs until November 2022.
Photo of the “Yellow Pumpkin” welcoming ceremony courtesy of Tadasu Yamamoto