Last Updated:Nov 1, 2019

Rokko Meets Art 2019

The 10th Rokko Meets Art on Kobe’s Mt. Rokko runs through late November.

Mt. Rokko Cable Car
Mt. Rokko Cable Car
Rokko Meets Art is a modern art festival on Mt. Rokko, a 932-meter mountain less than an hour by public transportation from Kobe and Osaka. The tenth annual program features 42 artists and groups. Most of the work is newly commissioned and includes some of Japan’s leading and most cutting-edge artists. Participating artists are either invited or chosen in an open-call selection process. Jury awards are given to outstanding artists who submitted their work in the public competition.

Tadao Ando, Aquirax Uno, and Chu Enoki are among the more well-known artists whose works you can see while also enjoying refreshing mountain views. Emerging artists such as Zon Ito, Makoto Egashira, and Nobuyuki Osaki are also not to be missed. Genres range from painting and sculpture to sound installation and architecture.

Rokko Meets Art ends November 24th. Admission is ¥2200 for adults and ¥1100 for children. All of the artwork can be seen in a single day, but spreading your visit out over two days is recommended. Arima hot springs are another nearby attraction. Mt. Rokko’s closest station (accessible by Kobe city bus) is Rokko Cable Shita, where you can catch a cable car to Rokko Cable Sanjo. From there a bus runs up the mountain. Transportation details are here.

Rokko Cable Sanjo Station and Tenran Observatory

Yukiko Iwatani, 'We Are Here' (2019)
Yukiko Iwatani, 'We Are Here' (2019)
Rokko Cable Sanjo Station architectural detail
Rokko Cable Sanjo Station architectural detail

Rokko Cable Sanjo Station has been given special recognition as a site of modern industrial heritage. Mt. Rokko opened as a place of public leisure in the Meiji Period, when Japan’s industrialization took shape. In this building you can search out all the works in Yukiko Iwatani’s ‘Koko ni Iruyo’ (We Are Here) series. Made up of 16 delicate installations of plants native to Mt. Rokko, it won this year’s Grand Prix.

Takuma Uematsu, 'Palette – big horn sheep' (2019)
Takuma Uematsu, 'Palette – big horn sheep' (2019)
Takuma Uematsu, 'world tree II' (2019)
Takuma Uematsu, 'world tree II' (2019)

At Tenran Cafe near Rokko Cable Sanjo Station you’ll find Takuma Uematsu’s “Palette – big horn sheep” (2019), an ovine statue dotted with paint palettes. Visitors are invited to use the palettes to paint on the walls. Uematsu’s work can also be seen in front of the panoramic views at Rokko Garden Terrace.

A view from the Tenran Observatory
A view from the Tenran Observatory

Chapel of the Wind

Tadao Ando, 'Chapel of the Wind'
Tadao Ando, 'Chapel of the Wind'
Artist: Chu Enoki
Artist: Chu Enoki

Chu Enoki, known for creating artworks from weaponry and scrap metal, has installed several of his sculptures inside and around the Chapel of the Wind built by renowned architect Tadao Ando. The chapel – the first church designed by Ando – is specially open to the public throughout Rokko Meets Art.

OBI, 'Let the flower bloom at the rubble' (2019)
OBI, 'Let the flower bloom at the rubble' (2019)
OBI is a creative duo made up of Yasuhito Suzuki and Tomomi Homma. For their installation ‘Gareki ni Hana wo Sakasemashou’ (Let the flower bloom at the rubble), they collected local residents’ discarded household appliances, arranging them in orderly rows and painting them bright pink on one side. The work reflects how life is “colored inorganically” by human activity.

Grand Hotel Rokko Skyvilla

Yoshie Kuroda, 'Standing Mokemokemono Six Jizo Bosatsu (Ksitigarbha)' (2019)
Yoshie Kuroda, 'Standing Mokemokemono Six Jizo Bosatsu (Ksitigarbha)' (2019)
Yoshie Kuroda, 'Standing Mokemokemono Six Jizo Bosatsu (Ksitigarbha)' (2019)
Yoshie Kuroda, 'Standing Mokemokemono Six Jizo Bosatsu (Ksitigarbha)' (2019)

Textile artist Yoshie Kuroda, winner of the Runner-Up Grand Prix, presents six bodhisattvas in animal form posed piously inside the Grand Hotel Rokko Skyvilla.

Rokko Garden Terrace

Yoshihiro Mikami + Hajime Yoshida 'I Was Born' (2019)
Yoshihiro Mikami + Hajime Yoshida 'I Was Born' (2019)
This diamond-shaped work is several feet deep with stairs inside. You can walk down inside it.

Sancho Station

Nobuyuki Osaki, 'Multiple Lighting (Memories of Rokko)' (2019) partial
Nobuyuki Osaki, 'Multiple Lighting (Memories of Rokko)' (2019) partial
Nobuyuki Osaki, 'Multiple Lighting (Memories of Rokko)' (2019) detail
Nobuyuki Osaki, 'Multiple Lighting (Memories of Rokko)' (2019) detail

Nobuyuki Osaki uses Rokko Sancho Country Station, a ropeway station no longer in operation, for his installation ‘Multiple Lighting (Memories of Rokko).’ He has created benches with graphics from former Mt. Rokko advertising pamphlets. Inside a ropeway car, photographs of people vacationing at Mt. Rokko are turned into paintings and then rephotographed. The work stirs up nostalgia and thoughts about the blurry nature of memory.

Rokkosan Country House

Shoin Junior and Senior High School Art Club 'Happy whippy ice cream' (2019)
Shoin Junior and Senior High School Art Club 'Happy whippy ice cream' (2019)
A girls’ school art club, returning participants to Rokko Meets Art, created this giant ice cream sculpture and give popular performances.

Keita Mori, 'Clouds without the sky' (2019)
Keita Mori, 'Clouds without the sky' (2019)
Paris-based artist Keita Mori creates sculptural graffiti-like “drawings” attaching string and rope to surfaces with a glue gun.

Tetsuro Kano, 'Naturplan' (2019)
Tetsuro Kano, 'Naturplan' (2019)
Tetsuro Kanno’s assemblages at a pond at Rokkosan Country House.

Makoto Egashira, Rose Garden' (2019)
Makoto Egashira, Rose Garden' (2019)
Makoto Egashira, Rose Garden' (2019)
Makoto Egashira, Rose Garden' (2019)

Makoto Egashira is a maestro of floral motifs, displaying his kitschy rose carpet creations in a real rose garden.

Rokko Alpine Botanical Garden

Zon Ito, 'Messages from Takao Kodama' (2019)
Zon Ito, 'Messages from Takao Kodama' (2019)
Zon Ito has created a sort of outdoor art museum dedicated to Takao Kodama (1894–1945), an artist who depicted nature and people on Mt. Rokko. Ito pairs his own embroidered works with replicas of sketches by Ito.

Kazutaka Sugitani, 'here now, but later gone again' (2019)
Kazutaka Sugitani, 'here now, but later gone again' (2019)
Ceramicist Kazutaka Sugitani molds his sculptural objects with a pop-art flair by hand. Here they are integrated into the woods of Rokko Alpine Botanical Garden.

Noriko Yamaguchi, 'The Battle of ROKKO OROSHI' (2019)
Noriko Yamaguchi, 'The Battle of ROKKO OROSHI' (2019)
Noriko Yamaguchi’s tapestry-inspired paintings portray relationships between groups and individuals in society.

Rokko International Musical Box Museum

Rokko International Musical Box Museum
Rokko International Musical Box Museum
Rokko International Musical Box Museum houses an incredible collection of giant “musical boxes” (mechanical music machines) from throughout history and around the world. For this year’s Rokko Meets Art, it presents a special musical retelling of Cinderella with illustrations by the avant-garde artist Aquirax Uno.

Inside Rokko International Musical Box Museum
Inside Rokko International Musical Box Museum

An illustration from Aquirax Uno's Cinderella
An illustration from Aquirax Uno's Cinderella

Artist: Marino Hata
Artist: Marino Hata
Artist: Marino Hata
Artist: Marino Hata

Marino Hata’s doll-like sculptures with silkscreened faces tell stories of the artist’s own imagining.

Artist Mayu Kunihisa working en plein air
Artist Mayu Kunihisa working en plein air

Yusuke Wakata, 'The Cock' (2019)
Yusuke Wakata, 'The Cock' (2019)
Yusuke Wakata’s ‘The Cock’ is a giant wooden rooster painted in gold. The work is based on a fable about an Empress burying such a gilted bird, which, as long as it was not dug up, would allow its village to prosper.

Memorial Monument(Mt.Rokko Visitor Center)

Taichi Yoshimura, 'Head of the Nishikigoi' (2019)
Taichi Yoshimura, 'Head of the Nishikigoi' (2019)
Taichi Yoshimura’s Nishikigoi carp is also a recipient of a jury award. Carved from a fragrant piece of camphor wood, visitors are invited to climb inside and check out the view of Mt. Rokko from inside a fish.

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Jennifer Pastore

Jennifer Pastore

Jennifer Pastore is a writer, editor, and translator for Tokyo Art Beat. Her thoughts on the Japanese art scene can also be found at artscape Japan and in other publications.

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