“BAKERU” starts at JAPAN HOUSE LOS ANGELES / Suntory “Mizu To Ikiru” Digital Art Garden Starts at TOKYO MIDTOWN

WOW magazine 155 - Jul. 1st, 2019

“BAKERU: Transforming Spirits” starts at JAPAN HOUSE LOS ANGELES this summer

WOW is pleased to announce the world debut of “BAKERU: Transforming Spirits,” a complimentary exhibition inviting visitors to step into the supernatural world of Japanese folk traditions from the northern region of Tohoku, Japan, through the use of large-scale interactive projections with motion capture technology. At the exhibition on display at JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles, starting July 17 through October 6, guests will bakeru (transform) into projected characters wearing special masks and participate in several festival scenes reimagined and created by WOW.

WOW’s BAKERU exhibition is participatory with four interactive projection installations to enhance the understanding of regional cultures epitomized in seasonal folk festivals, particularly those from Tohoku, which place a strong emphasis on the transformative power of nature upon which people’s lives depend. Conceived and created after the devastation of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami – which accelerated depopulation and fragmentation of local communities, threatening the continuation of festival traditions – the BAKERU exhibition harnesses interactive digital technology to provide broader access to local culture to audiences beyond the region, including younger, digital-native generations.

The space also showcases the connection between the long-lasting folk traditions and the fast advancing digital technology, between the northern region in Japan and the world, and between the everyday space and the space of festivities.

Festivals are temporal environments where gods and demigods, as apparitions of nature’s elements, are thought to exist in tandem with people. The exhibition references four specific traditions originating from different parts of Tohoku.

• “Saotome” is a traditional dance from Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, performed by highly-skilled young women with the mysterious ability to communicate with the gods. They come with several friends, dancing in the rice fields to offer prayers for rain and a bountiful harvest.

• “Shishi-Odori” is a religious dance found in Iwate and Miyagi Prefectures, where dancers mimic beasts lunging forward and backward to pray for bountiful harvest. Its name literally means ‘deer dance,’ and similar dances can be found in cultures around the world.

• “Kasedori” is a tradition from Kaminoyama City, Yamagata Prefecture in which youth dressed in straw rain-capes run through the city in the middle of winter. People splash the Kasedori with celebratory water and offer them food. The straws that fall from their costumes are considered sacred.

• “Namahage” is a fearsome deity who lives in the mountains near Oga City, Akita Prefecture, and visits the city once a year on New Year’s Eve, searching for lazy or misbehaving children to frighten. He travels to each household, receiving hospitality and gifts until he is appeased and eventually returns to the mountains.

These annual traditions fulfill practical needs of education and community building, and they also remind people of the multiple symbiotic connections to the natural world; for example, rain fosters crop to grow, the ocean brings fish, and diligent cultivation promises harvest. However, as nature itself is increasingly being neglected, those festivals are facing imminent disappearance.

In essence, WOW is translating the transformative process embedded in the innately playful and wondrously immersive festive environments of Tohoku’s seasonal customs into the contemporary language of digital expression, facilitating community building and perpetuating the traditions and their survival.
BAKERU: Transforming Spirits
Date:July 17 - October 6, 2019
Time:10:00am - 8:00pm Mon-Sat / 10:00am - 7:00pm Sun
Venue:JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles, Level 2 Gallery
Admission : Free
Address:Hollywood & Highland , 6801 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90028
BAKERU: Transforming Spirits

Presented and organized by JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles / Sponsored by ANA (All Nippon Airways), Panasonic / In cooperation with Tokyo Shishiodori, Gyouzanryu Maikawa Shishiodori, Oga City, Baba no Taue Odori Preservation Society, FabLab Sendai FLAT, Fukunaga Print Co., Ltd., cap LLC. and Ito Yutaka / Art direction by WOW / Curatorial support provided by tateito-yokoito LLC. and Tohoku Standard
JAPAN HOUSE is an innovative, worldwide project with three hubs, London, Los Angeles and Sao Paulo, conceived by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It seeks to nurture a deeper understanding and appreciation of Japan in the international community. JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles occupies two floors at Hollywood & Highland. The 2nd floor features a gallery space and the 5th floor hosts a Japanese restaurant, relaxing library, and event venue, along with spectacular views of Hollywood and Downtown Los Angeles. JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles offers a place of new discovery that transcends the physical and conceptual boundaries creating experiences that reflect the best of Japan through its spaces and diverse programs.

Suntory “Mizu To Ikiru” Digital Art Garden

Under the creative direction of WOW, “Suntory ‘Mizu To Ikiru’ Digital Art Garden” is appearing in Tokyo Midtown’s Grass Square. Measuring 40m x 20m, this box garden is enveloped in mist and emits light. It forms a part of the MIDTOWN LOVES SUMMER 2019 event, held from July 12 (Friday) to August 25 (Sunday).

Sit on the veranda looking out onto the garden, listen to the sound of the bugs, watch the fireworks, and enjoy the summer night with your loved ones. For “Suntory ‘Mizu To Ikiru’ Digital Art Garden,” we reconstructed in the modern day, the original scenery of Japan's summer with its high sensibilities where one could enjoy the elegance of the summer heat, challenging ourselves to create a new form of summer scenery. At the large garden and veranda that will be appearing on Grass Square, you will be able to refresh yourself during the daytime, be entranced by the light show in the evening, and enjoy a variety of expressions made from mist and light resulting from visual productions like the ripple marks and fireworks. Experience the refreshing Japanese summer and enjoy a fantastical night.
Suntory “Mizu To Ikiru” Digital Art Garden
Date:July 12 - August 25, 2019
*Canceled in the event of bad weather.
Time:Mist 15:00- 23:00 / Lights 18:00-23:00 
* The digital fireworks can be seen four times an hour.
Venue:Grass Square, TOKYO MIDTOWN
Cooperated by Suntory Holdings Limited
Direction:Hakuten / WOW
MIDTOWN LOVES SUMMER 2019 *coming soon

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