Do you know about the Azabu Juban sculpture walk? If you have ever walked down the main Azabu Juban shopping street, you probably have seen a few sculptures. However, did you know there are 16 sculptures that have been collected and installed in Azabu Juban since 1968. These sculptures are from a variety of very talented and famous international and domestic artists. Unfortunately, I have seen people using the sculptures as bike props so if you see bikes propped up against a sculpture please politely move the bike.
In the 1960’s the Azabu Juban community decided they wanted to position themselves as a liveable city neighbourhood, not one that people visited. The theme of sculptures is Smile (ほほえみ). Many of the sculptures are from embassies in the area showing the partnership between the Japanese and international community.
A fun family activity is to go on an Azabu Juban sculpture search walk. Can you find all 16? Hint: 13 are on the main Azabu Juban shopping street, and three are on side streets.
Azabu Juban Sculpture Walk – all 16 sculptures
#1. The Girl in the Red Shoes (Kimi-chan) – The statue of a cute girl stands in Patio-Juban in the center of the AzabuJuban Shopping Street. The girl is Iwasaki Kimi-chan, the model for the children’s song, (Akai Kutsu; translated: The Girl in Red Shoes). She was adopted by an American missionary couple at the age of three, but came down with tuberculosis, so was unable to accompany them when they returned home and was left at an orphanage in Azabu. She died at the tender age of nine in Azabu. Kimi-chan’s birth mother thought to the end that Kimi-chan had really gone to America. It is said that, hearing the story, the lyricist, Noguchi Ujo also believed it and wrote this song. At the foot of the statue, there is a small collection box for UNICEF.
#2. Father and Son (Artist: Bernard Matemera) – This sculpture was supported by the Republic of Zimbabwe. Matemera is one of the most famous Zimbabwe sculptures who spent his entire career living and working at the Tengenenge Sculpture Community in Zimbabwe until his death in 2006.
#3. Peace Clock (Artist: Gloria Bornstein) – This sculpture was supported by the US Embassy. Gloria Bornstein is a practicing artist based in Seattle, Washington.
#4. Package Deal (Artist: Karen Genoff) – This sculpture was supported by from the Australian Embassy. Karen Genoff is a practicing artist and art teacher in South Australia.
#5. Mother and Child (Artist: Lee Woon Sik) – This sculpture was supported by the Republic of Korea.
#6. Smile (Artist: Anjum Ayaz) – This sculpture was supported by the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Mr Anjum Ayaz is an internationally renowned Pakistani artist and sculptor and an Islamic calligrapher.
#7. The Inner and The Outer Sound (Artist: Ulrich Eller) – This sculpture was supported by the Federal Republic of Germany. Ulrich Eller is a sculptor, illustrator and sound-artist who belongs to the first generation of the then-nascent genre of ‘Klangkunst’. Born in Leverkusen in 1953, he is a professor at the Braunschweig School of Fine Arts and lives on a large farmstead in Dithmarschen on the North Sea. His art reflects a deep attachment to nature.
#8. Youganu’s Dream (Artist: Neculai Paduraru) – This sculpture was supported by Embassy of Romania. Nuclei Paduraru, a painter and sculptor, studied at the Institute of Fine Art in Bucharest graduating in 1975. Paduraru drew upon mythological literature and folklore for his subject matter.
#9. Sun Smile (Artist: Jorge Blanco) – This sculpture was supported by the Republic of Venezuela. Jorge Blanco (b. 1945) is an international artist who has created a distinctive sculptural language over more than thirty years. His expressions on positive lifestyle are invitations to value its simplicity. Blanco has placed 25 public art sculptures in large format across the globe.
#10. Adam & Eve (Artist: Georges Jeanclos) – This sculpture was supported by the French Republic. The passionate and powerful figurative sculpture of the late Georges Jeanclos evokes emotion through a mastery of materials. Georges Jeanclos’ turbulent childhood hiding from the Nazis resulted in him shaping his sculptures into fragile human figures.
#11. Luck Dong (Artist: Markus Copper) – This sculpture was supported by the Republic of Finland. The background of Copper’s art is often life itself; the encounter of man and nature and the incoherence of life. The ideas for his art he gets from the tragedies touching the mankind, miseries, violence, power, nature destructions and man’s lot to all that.
#12 The Couple (Artist: Josef Adam Moser) – This sculpture was supported by the Republic of Austria. Josef Adam Moser is a practicing artist living in Vienna, Austria.
#13 Smiles on the Foot of the Ladder (Artist: Mark Brusse) – This sculpture was supported by the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Mark Brusse is a Dutch painter and sculptor who lives in Paris, France.
#14 & #15 Nuno #1 and #2 (Artist: Takenobu Igarashi) -He attained international acclaim as a graphic designer in the mid-1970s through his axonometric alphabets. In 1994, he ended his 25 years of design activity and moved to Los Angeles to become a sculptor. Appointed as an emeritus professor at Tama Art University from April 2015.
#16 Kumo (Artist: Takenobu Igarashi) – See above.
Azabu Juban Sculpture Walk
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