04 April 2024

Bashamichi Art Vision / 馬車道アートビジョン


In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the opening of the Minatomirai Line in Yokohama, The Bashamichi Mirai Project (馬車道みらいプロジェクト) commissioned local artist Yuichi ITO (伊藤有壱) to do a video installation on the iconic domed ceiling of the station on weekends during the month of March. Ito is a renowned stop motion animator, known for his ongoing NHK television series KNYACKI! (ニャッキ!, 1995-present). He has also made animated shorts set in Yokohama such as Harbor Tale (2011) and Blue Eyes in Harbor Tale (2014). In addition to his team at I.TOON Ltd, Ito had technical assistance from Yuichi MATSUMOTO (松本祐一), Akimasa OISHI (大石彰誠). 

Bashamichi Art Vision was designed to honour Yokohama’s deep ties to photography and film culture. The first commercial photography studio was opened in Yokohama by Renjō SHIMOOKA (下岡 蓮杖, 1823 – 1914) in 1862, and Shimooka is often called the father Japanese photography. In more recent history, Tokyo University of the Arts (aka Geidai) opened its Graduate School of Film and New Media in the Bashamichi district in 2005. Ito has been teaching at Geidai’s Graduate School of Film and New Media since they opened their animation department over 10 years ago. 

When I visited Bashamichi Station with my husband, Stefan Hotes, on Saturday, March 23, Ito told us that he had been thinking about doing such an installation for 18 years. Inspired by the design of space created by architect Hiroshi NAITO (内藤廣), Ito came up with the concept of making a modern version of the 19th century optical device, the Phenakistiscope (also known as Odoroki-ban in Japanese) projected onto the domed ceiling. 

 The installation consisted of 5 projected videos that each ran at about a minute and a half. The themes were as follows:
 ①      Minato Mirai Line 20th Anniversary Video 

 A collection of historical images of the port city of Yokohama. 

    Garden Necklace Yokohama 2024 Sequence 
         ガーデンネックレス横浜2024 イメージムービー 

 Ito is the designer of the Garden Bear character used by the city of Yokohama to promote its Garden Necklace events (events that take place at the beautiful city gardens, which have been included by foreign trends in gardening, such as the English rose garden style). 

    GREEN EXPO 2027 Sequence 2027
         年国際園芸博覧会 イメージムービー 

Yokohama will be hosting the World Horticultural Exposition in 2027 with the theme “Scenery of the Future for Happiness” with an estimated participation of 80 countries. The Expo will run from March 19 to September 26, 2027. 

     Art Video 1: “Phenakistiscope” 
        アート映像1 「フェナキスティスコープ」 

This projection used historic Phenakistiscope discs named horse 「馬」, flower「花」, and dance「ダンス」, which were really perfect for the location. The place name “Bashamichi” translates as “horse-drawn carriage way,” as it was the way that horse-drawn carriages would go on their way to and from the port when it opened. Professor Emeritus Machiko KUSAHARA (草原真知子) of Waseda University, a world-renowned collector and researcher, provided the discs for the creation of the installation. 

    Art video 2: “The Road Leading to the Harbour'” 
        アート映像2 「港へつづく道」 

The last installation was a collaboration between Ito and leading Yokohama photographer Hideo Mori (森日出夫). The Bashamichi area has long been known as “From 'Isesaki to Bashamichi and Bankoku Bridge to the harbour” 「伊勢佐木から馬車道、そして万国橋が港に連なる」. The theme is how the landscape of the port changes with the times… which was also the theme of Ito’s animation Harbor Tale, which they also collaborated on. The 20th anniversary edition of Harbor Tale with Book can be ordered here.

2024 Cathy Munroe Hotes