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A Yayoi Kusama Pumpkin Sculpture Is Reinstalled in Japan

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TOKYO — Not to fret: A large pumpkin sculpture by the artist Yayoi Kusama has been reinstalled on the Japanese island where it was thrashed by a typhoon last yr.

Technically, this particular specimen of polka-dot, reinforced plastic is a duplicate of the one which was irreparably damaged. But regardless of. Persons are completely happy, and the Instagram-friendly artwork has returned just in time for Japan’s reopening to foreign tourists after a coronavirus-induced hiatus.

“The pumpkin is a special feature of recent art, it’s been missing for a very long time and it’s finally back,” Toshio Hamaguchi, 74, who lives on the island, said by phone on Saturday. “Locals are completely happy to see it return. We’ve longed for this.”

The unique piece was installed in 1994 on Naoshima, an island in western Japan that has since change into an unlikely haven for international art and architecture.

The yellow-and-black sculpture by Ms. Kusama, one in every of the world’s hottest artists, is a cousin of sorts to her “dancing” pumpkin that was featured at a sculpture show last yr within the Recent York Botanical Garden. There’s also a large red Kusama pumpkin on Naoshima.

The yellow-and-black pumpkin, about six and a half feet tall and a bit of over eight feet wide, was in its usual spot on a pier last August when it was tossed into the ocean by a storm that packed winds as high as 78 miles per hour. Staff members at Benesse Art Site, the artwork’s everlasting home, were unable to rescue it in time.

The pumpkin was later recovered in a damaged state and hauled away, perhaps to the art-world equivalent of a compost pile.

“It suddenly disappeared, and that left what felt like an enormous hole in our life on the island,” said Shigenori Fujii, an official from the Naoshima Tourism Association.

The sculpture’s return this week made national news. The brand new pumpkin is a bit sturdier and has a special attachment in its stem — a feature that will allow it to be easily dragged to safety if one other typhoon were to threaten it.

When the unique pumpkin was installed on Naoshima almost three a long time ago, residents were skeptical of its shape and vibrant colours, said Mr. Hamaguchi, the local resident.

On the time, the island’s economy was mostly industrial. The place didn’t yet have a popularity as a house for artworks by the likes of Claude Monet and James Turrell, or structures by the Pritzker Prize-winning architect Tadao Ando.

“My late wife asked, ‘What the hell is it?’” said Yoshio Nishiguchi, 72, an innkeeper on Naoshima and a former seaweed farmer. “We were all surprised to see the pumpkin at first.”

The sculpture is now seen as a “treasure,” Mr. Hamaguchi said — to the purpose where, after it was damaged last yr, some residents complained that meteorologists must have issued high tide and wind warnings for the realm because the fateful typhoon approached.

“This time, I feel we have now to be more mindful,” he added. “Even at night.”

Hisako Ueno reported from Tokyo, and Mike Ives from Seoul.

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