Art has always had the power to remind us of our deeper potential, inspire us, and bring out our best. And it doesn’t need to be kept in a museum or gallery; in fact, public art can reach even more people with its powerful messages.
That’s the idea behind one aspect of the Hibiya & Hope Project, which has been organized in part by Tokyo Midtown Hibiya. The project was launched to inspire people to keep in mind, during these challenging times, the qualities that have made Hibiya stand out for generations: its hospitality and its fame as a place where Tokyoites have gone for refined cultural entertainment.
One outstanding and visually appealing aspect of the Hibiya & Hope Project is Flora, a sculpture by Kenji Yanobe. As Yanobe describes it, Flora represents a goddess who, while being awakened by the sun, simultaneously regards the past, present and future. Flora was made in 2015, the 20th anniversary of the Great Hanjin-Awaji Earthquake. She is part of a series of sculptures, which were created to recognize strength, resilience and perseverance in the face of natural disasters. The other two works in the series include Sun Sister, which was also created to commemorate the Great Hanjin-Awaji Earthquake, and Sun Child, which was made in response to the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami of March 11, 2011.
The distinctive clothing for Flora was designed by Sebastian Matsuda, who is known for his influence on kawaii couture, his work with J-Pop star Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, and the art direction of the fantastically designed Kawaii Monster Café in Harajuku. The outfit is partially inspired by the work of the celebrated 17th and 18th century painter and designer Korin Ogata. The famed director Amon Miyamoto also collaborated on the piece.
Flora was first brought to Tokyo Midtown Hibiya in 2018, at Miyamoto’s behest. The sculpture is actually designed to stand to a height of four meters, open its eyes, and light up, as a part of the performance that opens the yearly Hibiya Festival.
However, although Flora was not able to play her usual role in the Hibiya Festival as it was canceled this year, visitors to the area can still see her for themselves—she was installed in front of Tokyo Midtown Hibiya on August 6. Normally, the statue’s eyes are open, but as Yanobe explains, Flora currently has her eyes shut as she is meditating for the health and well-being of not just Tokyo’s inhabitants, but for people around the world.
If you’d like to see this captivating work of art for yourself, make sure to head down to Tokyo Midtown Hibiya soon, as Flora will only be on display until September 24.
You can see Flora being installed and hear some comments from Yanobe (in Japanese) here: