Suimei by Kazuyo Sejima & Associates

Suimei

To begin with, I thought that a site with a historic background would be compelling. I wanted to study and know the past in depth, to then face and build the future. It was an occasion for the past and the present, but also the future, to be connected. The Hamarikyu Garden is a daimyo garden of the Edo period. It has been landscaped and renovated many times by successive shoguns of the Edo shogunate.

Nowadays, from the garden, you can see the skyscrapers of Shimbashi and Shiodome standing in the background. It’s a site where I could interact with two dimensions of Tokyo: both historical and modern. I think about the expansion of the city of Tokyo while I sense the countryside it used to be – falconry grounds for the shogunate. Within the park we chose the site of the guesthouse “Enryokan”, constructed in the early Meiji era. It is a place of hospitality.

The Hamarikyu Garden is already a park that coexists with water: there are many ways to enjoy water within the park, such as ponds made of seawater and two duck fields. In this landscape, I wanted to introduce water in a way that reflects present times, but keeping in mind the kyokusui (a waterway in the Shinden-zukuri garden of the Heian period). Water is an irreplaceable element in life.

The patterns of running water, often used in Kimono, have different symbolic meanings, such as “washing away suffering and disasters”, “flowing water is clean and pure”, and “purification and protection from fire”. As for the installation itself, the stream of water on the grass seems to be stationary when viewed from a distance, but as one approaches it, it is possible to see that it is actually flowing quietly.

By appearing to be simultaneously fixed and constantly changing, the flow of water represents the past, the present and the future. The shallow water in the mirrored waterway shines brightly. It reflects surrounding pine and plum trees, as well as neighbouring buildings. The title “Suimei” is a word that signifies how limpid water shines beautifully in the light of the sun and the moon. My hope is to be able to imagine a bright future through this surface of water, one that reflects the past of Tokyo while also continuously shifting.

I would like to portray the scenery as Kamo no Chomei wrote in the prelude of his book “Hojoki,” “The flow of the river is ceaseless; and its water is never the same. The foam that floats in the pools now gathering, now vanishing never lasts long. So it is with man and all his dwelling places on this earth.” Source by Kazuyo Sejima & Associates.

  • Location: Tokyo, Japan
  • Architect: Kazuyo Sejima & Associates
  • Promoter: Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Arts Council Tokyo and Executive Committee of Pavilion Tokyo 2021
  • Planning and Production: WATARI-UM, The Watari Museum of Contemporary Art
  • Date: July 1st -September 5th, 2021
  • Photographs: Courtesy of Kazuyo Sejima & Associates

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