Mix it up!: Yokohama

By on August 27, 2008

Japan’s largest port city is an internationally-minded municipality of impressive parks, thriving industry, rich cuisine, and a unique history. Yokohama is now vying for the world’s attention as a creative capital. Whether Yokohama is your local neighbourhood or serves as a day out, there’s no better time to visit. From mid-September until the end of November, Yokohama hosts its International Triennale, a contemporary art festival using the city and its heritage as a backdrop. It offers us a chance to see Yokohama at its best, a creative fusion of cosmopolitan influences and creative endeavours.

For those unfamiliar with the Triennale, It is a two-month long cultural event, showcasing contemporary art that appears every 3 years. Over recent years, many cities around the world have jumped on the cultural bandwagon, to host their own Biennale or Triennale in order to promote the cultural significance of their city. The most famous of these being is the Venice Biennale (every 2 years).

Yokohama started their Triennale in 2001 and gave onlookers the memorable image of a giant grasshopper attached to the side of the Pan Pacific hotel. ‘Kong-esque’ in appearance, it signaled the arrival of a new wave of contemporary Asian art. Since then Asian art has exploded on the international art scene with China, Taiwan and Singapore all staging similar events.

The Yokohama Triennale, now in its third manifestation, is a huge event that brings to the city an impressive collection of cutting edge artists from around the world, drawing from the practices of painting, sculpture, performance, video and dance with many site-specific works highlighting the distinctive charms of Yokohama.

Take the family and give them an eye-opener to the world of creativity. In between venues, head off to the many malls and air-conditioned shopping courts that make up the commercial Yokohama of the 21st century. Yokohama has a wonderful naval history and lovingly holds on to its heritage by preserving many of the old buildings, some of which have been converted into permanent art spaces such as the former Dai-ichi Bank that now houses Bank Art. Yokohama  is aggressively promoting itself as one of the great, new cities of the world; constructing magnificent buildings such as the beautiful international passenger terminal and the newly constructed exhibition hall in the Shinko Pier area which serves as one the main exhibition spaces.

The Yokohama Triennale doesn’t quite rank up there with the big boys, of the Biennale/Triennale world but it’s making inroads and this year’s director, Mizusawa Tsutomu, is hoping that the Triennale will constitute an important step forward in the cities’ cultural maturity by providing a lively, fresh approach to contemporary art. Experience this wonderful event as part of your Minato Mirai day out. This is the beauty of the Triennale; removing the mystique of  contemporary art for many by placing it in an everyday context. One minute you can be contemplating ground breaking artwork on the waterfront, the next you can be riding the jet coaster in Cosmo World. The Triennale is all about shaking up our everyday perceptions, getting closer to contemporary art and having a great day out. Mix  it  up!

Shinko Pier
– MAIN VENUE SITE – Nearly 30 artists, including Pedro Reyes, Fischli & Weiss, and Cerith Wyn Evans, will exhibit their works.
Osanbashi Yokohama International Passenger Terminal The roof is a great vantage point to see the triennale site and experience the H Box!
Red Brick Warehouse No.1 Exhibits will be mainly on the second and third floors.
NYK Waterfront Warehouse – BASHAMICHI STATION – HOME TO BANKART – About 20 artists will install their works. Included are Matthew Barney, Kosugi Takehisa, and Joan Jonas.
Sankeien Gardens The natural setting of the Honmoku District will be used to exhibit the works of 5 or 6 artists
Yokohama Triennale 2008
Yokohama 2008: International Triennale of Contemporary Art
13 September – 30 November 2008 (79 days)
* Public Opening: 13 September
* Special Opening Program: 13-15 September
Opening hours 10:00 – 18:00 (entrance until 17:00)

Walking this season is a pleasure.From Sakuragicho or Minato Mirai Station, you can visit the attractions there and then walk onward to Yamashita Park via the waterfront promenade. On the way back if there are grumbles of aching feet take advantage of the red Tourist Spot Round-Trip Bus which makes the rounds of central Yokohama, including Sakuragicho Station, Minato Mirai, Yamashita Park, and Chinatown throughout the year, with departures every 20 to 30 minutes.

Head for one of the many malls in Minato Mirai: Queen’s Square, Yokohama World Porter’s, Landmark Plaza, and Jack Mall. There are more than enough restaurants and watering holes to satisfy all. End the day at Cosmo World (http://senyo.co.jp/cosmo/) with all the fun of the fair.


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