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
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.
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.
Chapel of the Wind
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 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
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
This diamond-shaped work is several feet deep with stairs inside. You can walk down inside it.
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
A girls’ school art club, returning participants to Rokko Meets Art, created this giant ice cream sculpture and give popular performances.
Paris-based artist Keita Mori creates sculptural graffiti-like “drawings” attaching string and rope to surfaces with a glue gun.
Tetsuro Kanno’s assemblages at a pond at Rokkosan Country House.
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 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.
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’s tapestry-inspired paintings portray relationships between groups and individuals in society.
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.
Marino Hata’s doll-like sculptures with silkscreened faces tell stories of the artist’s own imagining.
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’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.