Unlocking the World

Yayoi Kusama's yellow pumpkin sculpture is back on Naoshima Island, Japan

Tetsu Sukegawa, CNNUpdated 17th October 2022
travel story about the yellow pumpkin sculpture on Naoshima being repaired and put back. We already have a file photo of the sculpture itself but these photos are from the welcoming ceremony. (Courtesy Tadasu Yamamoto)
(CNN) — Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama's famous yellow pumpkin sculpture was reinstalled on October 4th on Naoshima island after it was swept into the sea and badly damaged during a typhoon last summer.
Local residents, students and officials gathered to celebrate the art island's trademark sculpture as it was placed back on the pier on Naoshima Island, which is in the Seto Inland Sea. It had been there since 1994.
"Since (the pumpkin) was a symbol of Naoshima, it is great to see the same artwork installed again at the same spot. We are happy to share the joy with residents in Naoshima," said Yukari Stenlund, a spokeswoman from Benesse Holdings, the company that manages the sculpture and the rest of the island's art offerings, told CNN Travel.
The sculpture, which is two meters tall, 2.5 meters wide and made of fiberglass-reinforced plastic, was swept away into the sea and broken into three pieces in August 2021.
According to Stenlund, Kusama's production team opted to create a brand new yellow pumpkin sculpture -- while staying true to the original -- after evaluating the extent of the damage.
An unveiling was held on October 4, 2022.
An unveiling was held on October 4, 2022.
Courtesy Tadasu Yamamoto
The artist's production team started working on a new pumpkin earlier this spring and made the sculpture's outer shell 10% thicker than the original so it could withstand strong waves and wind in the future. In addition, a hook was embedded into its stem so it could be easily dragged to safety if another typhoon hits.
"We hope to exhibit the pumpkin as a symbol of the connection between Naoshima and the world," Stenlund added, saying that message underpinned the 1994 "Out of Bounds" exhibition, which saw the sculpture first installed on the island.
On the Japanese island of Naoshima, contemporary sculptures dot the landscape, while abandoned houses are turned into works of art.
Naoshima is a quiet with 3,200 residents, located in the Setouchi Sea, north of Shikoku. With three modern and contemporary art museums, it is known as an "art island," The yellow pumpkin, which contrasts with the blue sea, has long been a popular site for Instagram photos.
The main way to access the island is a 20-minute ferry ride from Okayama city, which is 50 minutes away by bullet train from Osaka.
The pumpkin's timing couldn't be better. Japan opens its borders to leisure tourists on October 11, and the Setouchi Art festival runs until November 2022.