Viewpoints

A Sip Of Matcha

Published: Monday September 15, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Tuesday September 16, 2014 MYT 2:14:49 PM

Checking out a sand art exhibition

Iconic: Sand sculptures of China's Terracotta Warriors and the Great Wall, at the Yokohama Sand Art exhibition, Japan.

Iconic: Sand sculptures of China's Terracotta Warriors and the Great Wall, at the Yokohama Sand Art exhibition, Japan.

Yokohama is Japan’s first city to host the “Culture City of East Asia” project this year.

My husband and I had never seen real sand art before. The opportunity came when the sand art exhibition made its first appearance in Yokohama. So last month, we visited the exhibition held in a huge tent set up at Kia Naka-dori district in Naka Ward.

Yokohama has been nominated as Japan’s first city to host the “Culture City of East Asia” project this year, along with China’s Quanzhou City and South Korea’s Gwangju Metropolitan City. The project aims to foster mutual understanding and unity through diverse cultural and art events. It includes the Yokohama Triennale 2014 (an international modern art exhibition), Yokohama Sand Art exhibition and the Youth Cultural Exchange programme.

The sand art exhibition is ongoing until Nov 3, from 10am till 8pm.

Katsuhiko Chaen, a globally known sand sculptor and the producer of the exhibition, had invited famous sculptors from South Korea, China, America, Italy, Holland and Singapore to replicate the World Heritage and historical buildings of Japan, South Korea and China.

On the left of the entrance lies a humongous sculpture of a phoenix with carvings of Yokohama Stadium and a train on a track. On its right sits an equally enormous sculpture of a dragon with carvings of Yokohama Landmark Tower, a Ferris wheel at Cosmo World and some famous buildings. The phoenix and dragon represent the mythological creatures of the three countries.

The exhibition area showcases prodigious sculptures of historical rulers and figures, cultural scenes, and some famous scenery of Korea, China and Japan.

These works were said to be completed within two weeks by 10 sculptors. The longest sculpture is 16m long and 3m high. The sculptures are colourfully lit up at night.

The sand art exhibits are extensive. Every single piece has been intricately carved, featuring even the facial expressions of the figures. We learned about the history of the sand art museum and how sand sculptures are made.

The exhibits were created using sand from Japan’s largest coastal dunes – the Tottori Sand Dunes. Sand and water were mixed thoroughly inside wooden structures. Then the mixture was compacted with a roller. The wooden forms were later stacked up like a pyramid until they reached the intended height. Once the water had drained, the wooden structures were carefully removed, from the top down. Meticulous sculpting started from the top. It was delicate work, and sometimes the sculptures collapsed during the process.

On our way out, we took a peek of the scene at the back. The backbone of the sculptures was supported by wooden boards. Ah, so that’s how the sculptures are kept intact! An educational and interesting experience, indeed.

> Sarah Mori, a Malaysian married to a Japanese, resides in Japan.

Tags / Keywords: sand sculptures, sarah mori, japan

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