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Yayoi Kusama’s Yellow Pumpkin washed away during typhoon in Japan

By Oona McGee, SoraNews24

On Sunday night, Typhoon Lupit made landfall on Japan’s southwestern island of Kyushu, moving in a northeasterly direction over the Seto Inland Sea, bringing strong winds and heavy downpours to the region that lasted through to Monday evening.

One of the small islands in the Seto Inland Sea, Naoshima, suffered particularly extreme weather conditions as the typhoon passed through.

Also known as “Art Island” due to its many galleries and art installations, Naoshima is perhaps most famous for being home to the “Yellow Pumpkin” created in 1994 by world-renowned Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama.

The installation, managed by Benesse Art Site Naoshima, usually sits on a pier overlooking the Seto Inland Sea.

As the island was battered by heavy rain and strong winds due to the passing typhoon, locals began to fear for the safety of the Yellow Pumpkin, which was being incessantly pounded by waves.

At around 10:30 a.m. Monday, the waves ended up being too strong for the installation, dislodging the pumpkin off its cement platform, leaving the pier eerily empty.

Thankfully, the pumpkin wasn’t swept out to sea and lost forever, but it was tossed around by waves on the nearby shoreline.


Thankfully, Benesse staff were able to retrieve the two-meter-tall by 2.5-meter-wide pumpkin, although they say it was badly damaged after hitting the pier multiple times during its seaborne journey. This led a number of locals to question why the pumpkin hadn’t been taken away by staff earlier, as is usually the case in the event of an approaching typhoon.

By the time the pumpkin appeared to be in danger , it would’ve been too late for staff to save it as the waves would’ve posed a danger to workers had they gone out on the pier during the treacherous conditions.

While Benesse says staff were “watching over” the artwork when waves and wind picked up during high tide this morning, the company is yet to comment on the reason why the artwork wasn’t removed from the site beforehand. They did release a statement on Twitter this afternoon, however, which read:

“Benesse House’s outdoor work ‘Pumpkin’ has been removed due to damage by Typhoon No. 9 [Typoon Lupit]. We will notify you once re-exhibition of the work has been decided. We apologize for the inconvenience and thank you for your understanding.”

As the ninth typhoon to approach Japan this year, people are bracing themselves for more tropical storms, which commonly occur between May to October and peak in August and September each year. And with Naoshima also home to another open-air seaside pumpkin by Kusama, a black-dotted red one located behind a seawall, staff at Benesse will likely be keeping a watchful eye over their famous gourds for the rest of the summer.


It’s these famous pumpkins that bring thousands of tourists to the shores of Naoshima every year, including Keanu Reeves and his girlfriend Alexandra Grant, who took the above photo of Kusama’s outdoor installation during their visit to the area in 2019.

Source: Asahi Shimbun

Read more stories from SoraNews24.

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© SoraNews24

©2024 GPlusMedia Inc.

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Luckily, the pumpkin was not lost . . . .

9 ( +11 / -2 )

Really weird art projects.

1 ( +9 / -8 )

Adds to its conceptualisation within our perceived reality.

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Thank Gourd” it was saved. Pepo would be sad if the typhoon had squashed this icon of Japanese cultivar.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

The outer shell is now cracked. They usually truck it away before a storm. Perhaps too focused on other events ?

7 ( +9 / -2 )

This video works:

https://www.spoon-tamago.com/2021/08/09/naoshima-kusama-yellow-pumpkin-washed-away/ -

The “play” button in the accompanying photo doesn’t. *Maybe a link, next time would be nice.
3 ( +4 / -1 )

I think this is a problem with Japan.

Japan has so many good arts, yet all it's shown to the outside world is these weird things, just like the opening ceremony of the Olympics.

-7 ( +7 / -14 )

Wasn’t it next on the list for UNESCO consideration @expat 3:15pm:

*- **“They should have taken it away years ago. How anyone can confuse her work with art is beyond me.” -*

… along with the “ BE KOBE ” Instagram point at Meriken Park, Kobe Harborland.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Naoshima is definitely worth visiting. (That pumpkin must be worth a fortune.)

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Although 'kabocha' is routinely translated as 'pumpkin', the art installation (pictured above) more closely resembles a gourd. While both are members of the Cucurbitaceae family, pumpkin is edible but gourds are not -- they are grown for decorative purposes only.

5 ( +7 / -2 )

Sacrifice a pumpkin...... gain tons of free publicity!

4 ( +6 / -2 )

That pumpkin was borderline trypophobia-triggering anyway.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

*Although 'kabocha' is routinely translated as 'pumpkin', the art installation (pictured above) more closely resembles a gourd. While both are members of the Cucurbitaceae family, pumpkin is edible but gourds are not -- they are grown for decorative purposes only.*

Good gourd, you do go into detail!

6 ( +8 / -2 )

I thought Benesse was a language school. Why are they looking after the pumpkin?

7 ( +8 / -1 )

Also, I thought they had a specific word for "gourd", namely 瓢箪.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Since when is crap like this “art”?!

-8 ( +9 / -17 )

Don’t underestimate that pumpkin news. There’s a whole industry around it, from the artist of course, then all nationwide news agencies, and up to JT staff who selected it here for publication and even the website editor including it on the site can buy one or two lunch sandwiches, all thanks to that useless pumpkin that fell into the sea. Astonishing, that economy factor. lol

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Are these pumpkin things like Japan's answer to Jeff Koons' balloon dogs?

3 ( +4 / -1 )

It's time they let the pumpkin go.

2 ( +5 / -3 )

"Also, I thought they had a specific word for "gourd", namely 瓢箪."

'Hyootan' refers to the bottle-gourd, which is one specific variety, and was traditionally used as a container for liquids. According to Wikipedia there are more than 900 varieties of gourd...

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Oh No, Now what do do?

The ocean animals and creatures will FREEK OUT if they say it. LOL

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Why do people describe it as weird? Doesn’t she do kind of the same thing over and over again? And isn’t it kind of safe and easy? There is something in this concentrated repetition that seems representative of Japanese society/arts and crafts. That might seem “weird.”

6 ( +6 / -0 )


These kind of sculptures and the horrific Sunflower monster thing give the wrong impression about Japanese artists.

-6 ( +1 / -7 )

"What a monstrosity!", said a little boy as the emperor with no clothes passed by.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

@iron Lad I'm always interested to look at something new. Do you recommend any artists in particular? I always have to remind myself that one of the richest artists in the world is Japanese: Murakami. Maybe he's another example of a bad trend. I'd love to see something different.

1 ( +1 / -0 )


I'd recommend manga artists like Takehiko Inoue (Vagabond), Kentaro Miura (Berserk) and some mecha artists like Hajime Katoki (Gundam) than the "modern-art" japanese artists.

Modern artists, even japanese, are quite vomit-inducing.

-5 ( +1 / -6 )

Iron Lad

Really weird art projects

Have you ever seen the Colombian Botero's works, especially his sculptures?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

William Bjornson

Not familiar with the guy. Still: https://www.creativeboom.com/uploads/articles/21/21535165a592bbb24d93fb7618b5ee2536dd7289_1100.jpg

At least the fruit look normal, I guess.

0 ( +0 / -0 )



Sorry, but I do prefer the art to be more pleasing to the eyes. Don't see the point.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Say what you want of this kind of art, but if people are willing to pay for it; who’s the wiser?

And to all the haters, Kusama is more popular in Europe than Japan.

2 ( +2 / -0 )


That actually makes sense, considering his style is probably close to post-modernist art that the european likes.

For actual weird (and horrific) japanese art, Junji Ito is probably the internet favorite:


0 ( +1 / -1 )

his style is probably close to post-modernist art that the european likes.

Yayoi Kusama is a 90-something year old woman…

Most Japanese have never even heard of her.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

BeerDeliveryGuy Do pardon me. But I can't blame them, modern art nowadays doesn't reach people. And when it does, we have monstrosities like the Sunflower statue.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I’m not a fan of modern art either. But, I guess some committee in Europe decides which modern artists become millionaires, and which die in obscurity; to only be recognized 100 years later.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Modernism broke the relationship between ordinary people and the arts, creating an abyss between the popular and the academically-aligned highbrow. Also Modernism was an intellectually important movement, the effects of this were divisive - socially and culturally toxic. The damage went beyond all those ugly, brutalist concrete buildings.

Post-Modernist art such as this is healing that, and I'm all for it. Popular public sculptures such as this and Louise Bourgeois's giant spider, Maman - sculpture you can touch, climb over or take a selfie beside - is a good thing.

I hope she does them a new pumpkin/squash. Kabocha is a variety of green, pumpkin-shaped Japanese squash that is known around the world as a Japanese pumpkin. Perhaps the new one could use glow in the dark paint, so that once the sun set, it starts to glow.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

'Although Modernism', not 'Also Modernism'. Editing functions would be good.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It would seem that Suijin did not want the offering.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Smashing Pumpkins. Just saying .........

2 ( +3 / -1 )

The red and black artwork reminds me of a vacuum Sanyo once made, the SC-32 Lovely Bug 200.


Delightful Japanese weirdness ! Don't change a thing, we love it.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Hopefully the gourd is restored and returned to its usual location.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

They were testing it to see if it would be fine as it is mendokusai to keep picking it up every time a storm hits

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The next Gibly movie, Yellow pumpkin under the sea

0 ( +0 / -0 )

They were testing it to see if it would be fine as it is mendokusai to keep picking it up every time a storm hits

Sadly, this is probably true.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

God grants, God takes. Leave the pumpkin to his fate.

0 ( +0 / -0 )


Although 'kabocha' is routinely translated as 'pumpkin', the art installation (pictured above) more closely resembles a gourd. While both are members of the Cucurbitaceae family, pumpkin is edible but gourds are not -- they are grown for decorative purposes only

That's the first time I've seen someone "well, actually" a pumpkin.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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