• Greetings

    On behalf of all of the participating artists I would like to extend my greatest appreciation to Sakuragawa city in jointly hosting “The AMABIKI exhibition Rinrin Road” as part of their ten year anniversary.
    The cooperation and hard work of city and prefectural supervisors and a great number of other people has led to where we are today. Thank you very much.
    Sakuragawa city was established when the towns of Makabe, Yamato and Iwase merged in October, 2005. We decided to use this time of commemoration to try something new. After much deliberation and discussion we decided to hold the AMABIKI exhibition along the Rinrin Road that joins the former towns of Makabe, Yamato and Iwase, and here we are today at the opening of the AMABIKI exhibition.
    Previous the AMABIKI exhibition were held in the former Yamato village district. An area was chosen for the exhibition and artists would then each decide where they wanted to install their works. Then, with the help of town office employees, the heads of local districts, and local residents, they had to gain permission from landowners to install works on their properties. After sites were decided, routes were worked out and signposts erected, as everyone went through the process of getting each exhibition up and running.
    The subtitle of this exhibition is “Rinrin Road”, a road that runs from the Inuda intersection on the prefectural road 14 at the northern end, past the amabiki rest area, and down to the old Kabaho station at the southern end. Exhibits were restricted to the Rinrin Road area, and thus we have the current exhibition route.
    Upon reflection, when the Amabiki exhibitions started back in 1996, there were no art galleries or museums, just an expansive rural landscape and it all started in the hope that the people of Sakuragawa city and the children who grew up here would see art and sculpture as a normal part of their surroundings and not as something special or out of the ordinary.
    And now twenty years has passed and children who were born back then are about twenty years old. It is our dream that the years of Amabiki exhibitions have given these children of Sakuragawa a sense and awareness of art and sculpture.
    The lastly but not least, I would like to extend a gratitude to the volunteer group Yamato-Nadeshiko-an who provided meals and a place to rest for exhibition visitors for many years. I would also like to appreciate everybody at Mirai Juku for getting the local junior high school students involved and planning the photo contest and workshop etc.
    As well as the workshop itself, frottage rubbing materials were available near each work so that people could become a bit more familiar with each exhibit. The idea came about so that people would not only appreciate the different works, but also make their own frottage rubbings of exhibits as a moment of the exhibition.         

    The AMABIKI exhibition Executive Committee

  • “The AMABIKI exhibition” and Me

     My first encounter to the AMABIKI exhibition was about 10 years ago, when my university professor gave me a flyer on the sculpture exhibition, which I then went along with my friend and their family. We travelled by car from our home in Kawagoe, along the Kawagoe Highway, taking the Uratoko Bypass onto the Shuto Expressway, the Gaikan Expressway, Joban Expressway and finally the Kita-Kanto Expressway. I’m not sure if it was because the scenery was so unfamiliar but when we entered Sakurgawa city it felt like we had travelled such a long way. After visiting at the works in the exhibition we went to the opening party. We walked along the slopes of the park and arrived at a wide-open space where the artists themselves had made this amazing barbecue feast. The second time I also went with a friend. We walked around the forest and surrounding grounds, feeling very calm amongst the serene nature of Amabiki. On my third visit I came with my family and we looked around the exhibits by my car. I remember my children playing between the sculptures. It is a great memory. All of the sculptures that we saw were so impressive, and in the natural scenery. There were also some sculptures that captured both the natural environment and a feeling or sense of discomfort. These pieces made me think what exactly a sculpture should be.

     I had heard from various people that the AMABIKI exhibition was organized and run by the artists themselves. This coupled with the allurement of the sculptures commanding their spot in the Sakuragawa landscape, were behind my desire to try and participate the exhibition someday. About three years ago I went to a former university professor who is a member of the AMABIKI exhibition asking him to recommend me to be a participant. It didn’t take longtime to agree him to recommend.

     From March this year I was accepted as a member of the executive committee. Participating in monthly meetings about the upcoming exhibition. I had moved my home, for the first meeting it took three hours to get there, traveling from the Tohoku Expressway to the Kita-Kanto Expressway. As I came down off the interchange I once again recognized at the sheer number of stone masons. When I reached the meeting room on the second floor of the community center, there were tables placed in a large circle with everybody seated facing each other. While there was a physical distance between the artists there was also a sense of unity and freedom in the air. I felt the excitement about the upcoming exhibition because a lot of ideas and opinions were exchanged during that first meeting. Since all the members walking the exhibition route “Rinrin Road” together, cutting the weeds, and getting flyers and posters ready to send off, I was able to appreciate that the exhibition really was a team effort by everyone involved.
     The location for the exhibition this year is an old railroad. I had to visit the site many times to fix my plans and to find right way to install my work. During these visits I was able to talk to local people and hear stories about the old Amabiki and Kabaho train stations. These stories made me think about what has been lost, and reflect on what it might have been like. I started to think about my family. My father, who had passed away, and mother, wife and children back at home. Encountering the AMABIKI exhibition has been truly invaluable to me, both in time and place. I am extremely grateful to the Mayor, the officers and the locals of Sakuragawa city and all other people involved, for the opportunity to show my work in the AMABIKI 2015 Rinrin road.                                                 

    Written by OKA Takahiro