Situated in Yoro Park in Yoro, Gifu Prefecture, not far from Nagoya city is the "Site of Reversible Destiny" (養老天命反転地 yo-ro-ten-mei-han-ten-chi). Opened in 1995, the "experience park" was created by Nagoya-born, New York-based artist Arakawa Shusaku and his wife and artistic partner, poet Madeline Gins.
Armed with sneakers (if you need them) and a skateboard helmet provided free at the entrance, visitors are challenged "to rethink their physical and spiritual orientation to the world," and while walking in the Elliptical Field, "instead of being fearful of losing your balance, look forward to it (as a desirable re-ordering of the landing sites, formerly known as the senses)", according to Arakawa's "Directions for Use" on Yoro Park's official site.
The 2,000 square feet site, set in a concave basin in the foothills of the local mountains, is an absurdist landscape of buildings built at weird angles, mazes, sloped floors and curved steps arranged within a garden setting planted with trees (sometimes in deep concrete holes), bamboo groves and 24 species of medicinal herbs .
After entering the park, the first building is the Reversible Destiny Office (added 1997), built as an uneven pastel colored maze, where the ceiling design is a reflection of the floor. Even the toilets are built in the same style with a table-tennis table set into the ceiling of the purple/pink-colored gents.
Next The Critical Resemblance House has household furniture: fridges, sofas, wash basins, mattresses even toilets crammed into a narrow concrete maze-like structure.
Awareness of where you are or appear to be as well as keeping and losing your balance is a central theme and 5 maps of Japan are built into the site in concrete and The Critical Resemblance House has a roof shaped as a map of Gifu Prefecture.
The Elliptical Field, the concave basin backed by a hollow concrete wall, consists of nine pavilions (each a reproduction of a segment of the Critical Resemblance House) and multiple paths. Visitors have to clamber unsteadily up some of the steep slopes to navigate the paths.
An interesting, thought-provoking day out for all the family, especially screaming, excited and half-frightened kids.
Site of Reversible Destiny
1298-2 Takabayashi, Yoro-cho
Yoro-gun Gifu 503-1267
Tel: 0584 32 4592
Admission 710 yen
High school children 510 yen
Young children 300 yen
Phone ahead if the weather is bad as sometimes the park can be closed in high winds or snow.
From Nagoya and Osaka take ether JR Tokaido Line to Ogaki Station and then change to the Kintetsu Yoro Line or Kintetsu Line to Kuwana and then change to the Kintetsu Yoro Line.
The park is a 10-15 minute walk uphill from Yoro Station or a 5 minute taxi ride.
Kintetsu Taxis Tel: 0584 32 1135
As well as the the "Site of Reversible Destiny", the whole Yoro Park area has a Children's Park with a swimming-pool, water park, picnic area and a Sky-cycle. For adults there is a waterfall, a golf course, a pitch and putt course, tennis courts, a camping and barbecue area, a hiking course, temples and shrines, a bamboo forest, Alpine cabins to rent (Tel: 0584 32 1100) and the place is noted for its cherry trees in Spring!
Buy Japan Mandala
Books on Japanese Art and Design
Art Books by Arakawa Shusaku from Amazon
Japan Arakawa Shusaku Modern Art Yoro Madeline Gins Gifu Yazd Guide
Monday, January 08, 2007