Travel way out west in Tokyo and you’ll find a place called Tachikawa which is a large public art hot spot where one can enjoy over 100 sculptures by an array of international artists. The area is known as Faret Tachikawa with the first word coming from the Italian word “fare” meaning create. The ‘T’ added on the end presumably comes from either Tokyo or Tachikawa itself.
Now, I’m certainly no art expert but hopefully the photographs shown here are actual art project ones! On a slightly wet morning I ventured over to this part of Tokyo recently to get a better idea of this project which is set amid hotels, cinema’s and department stores and spread out over seven blocks. This wasn’t actually my first time to be in this area as I visited the place way back in 2005 with my friend Asif to see some of the major highlights of this free street art scene.
The half car design seen below is perhaps the most interesting one and that can be found next to Mizuho Bank.
Just round a couple of corners from there is the giant red plant pot (above) which sits in the middle of “Open Cafe Terrace” (designed by Jean-Pierre Reynaud) and the blue seat (below) which is called “Conversation” (Niki de Saint Phalle).
The row of statues standing in the bushes in front of Takashimaya department store (below) is known as “Stranger” (Sunday Jack Akpan).
This area all came about after the area’s US Army base was decommissioned at the end of the 1970’s and a government venture was put into place to take over the site and so a progressive urban landscape was planned. One of the ideas was to turn urban functions (benches, street bollards, ventilation shafts etc) into works of art. Another was to show the diversity of the world via site-specific works created by international artists and also (and perhaps more simply) to attract the general public to visit the area and explore the human-scale artworks.
To visit this area for yourself you need to go to JR Tachikawa station on the Chuo Line which is about 25 minutes west of Shinjuku. Take the North Exit and head in the direction of the giant Takeshimaya Department Store and just stroll around the block and you’ll be inundated with street exhibits belonging to the Faret Tachikawa Art Project.
A trip here could easily be combined with Showa Memorial Park which is a huge park (by Tokyo standards) possessing an outdoor barbecue area, an 11 kilometre bike trail with parking areas and a lot of grass! That last point may sound a bit strange to some but its a sad fact that parks in Tokyo are often just concrete-based places without any greenery whatsoever! I didn’t go to the park on this particular trip as it was raining and so I went one station along to Kunitachi to sample the giant sea eel dish being served in one of its restaurants.