Symbiosis: Living Island

Explore Japan's 'Living Art' Island in Exhibition at Japan House London Opening May 2022. Symbiosis: Living Island explores the large-scale art and architecture project, Inujima 'Art House Project', that is slowly transforming the Japanese island of Inujima. Please note the following restrictions around photo usage: do not crop, overlay or adjust the colour of images. Full credits must appear.


 Injuima Art House Project by Yoshikazu Inoue resized

  • Symbiosis: Living Island explores the large-scale art and architecture project, Inujima ‘Art House Project’, that is slowly transforming the Japanese island of Inujima.
  • Part of Benesse Art Site Naoshima – a collective term for the art activities overseen by Benesse Holdings Inc. and the Fukutake Foundation – that is working to write a new story for a collection of islands in the Seto Inland Sea. The evolving art project aims to breathe life back into an island with a diminishing population and ensure its longevity through cultural activities.
  • Central to the project are the island’s inhabitants and the concept of symbiosis: the interaction between nature and architecture. Installations, buildings and works of art are inextricably connected with their surroundings.
  • Visitors to Japan House London can ‘step onto the island’ and go on an intimate tour of Inujima through art and diorama installations, photography and videography, and hear testimonies from residents on the transformational impact the project has had on their lives.
  • A partial replica of Yellow Flower Dream by Brazilian artist Beatriz Milhazes is located on the Ground Floor, allowing guests to explore the captivating freestanding floral structure encapsulating the vibrant colour and energy of the Inujima landscape.
  • Press Preview: Wednesday 18 May, 08:00-14:00; book your place here: [email protected]
  • Press images available
  • Exhibition runs from Saturday 21 May to Sunday 4 September 2022

Japan House London presents Symbiosis: Living Island, an exhibition exploring the extraordinary living art scheme Inujima 'Art House Project' that has been transforming both the landscape and the lives of the inhabitants of Inujima Island in the Seto Inland Sea since 2010.

Running from 21 May to 4 September 2022 this new exhibition shines a spotlight on the interaction between nature and architecture, each informing the other to connect the people of the island to both architecture and art through a constantly evolving environment – thereby creating symbiosis.

The exhibition has been curated by the project’s artistic director Hasegawa Yuko, Director of the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa alongside internationally renowned architect Sejima Kazuyo, a founding member of the SANAA office (responsible for the design of the Serpentine Pavilion in 2009) and winner of the Pritzker award in 2010.


Visitor experience: Step onto the island of Inujima

Based on the road that encircles the island, visitors can ‘step foot onto’ the island to ‘travel the road’ and explore the art, pavilions and other creative projects that have formed part of the Inujima landscape since 2010.

Symbiosis: Living Island comes to life through architectural models, photography, and videography; all offering a snapshot of daily life on the island. The exhibition also features oral testimonies from residents expressing the many ways in which the project has not only transformed Inujima to become a ‘living island’ but also positively impacted the lives of its 30+ inhabitants. The residents have been intimately involved in the evolution of the project, ensuring the life of the island for generations to come.

Blueprints are also on display outlining Hasegawa’s long-term vision for the future of the island, showcasing the concept of ‘symbiosis’ and what can happen when we position nature and the community as the central pillar to how we live our everyday lives.


Full-scale replica of Yellow Flower Dream

A partial, full-scale replica of Yellow Flower Dream by Brazilian artist Beatriz Milhazes is available to view on the Ground Floor. Created especially for installation in A-Art House in 2018 on the island as part of Inujima ‘Art House Project’, the site-specific artwork is based on the artist’s perception of the architecture of the outdoor gallery A-Art House to function as a ‘sculpture uniting the surrounding community and nature’.

This is originally an outdoor installation. Through the changing colours and shapes of the artwork, depending on the angle they are viewed, the freestanding floral structure aims  both to capture the energy and vibrant colour of the island landscape and engage the community of Inujima by enabling residents to experience their familiar natural environment in an entirely different way.


About the Inujima ‘Art House Project’

Working closely with artists, not only from Japan, but from across the globe – including Nawa Kōhei, Kojin Haruka, Asai Yūsuke and Olafur Eliasson to name a few – the island is now home to five pavilions, alongside outdoor exhibits which evolve with the landscape over time.

Scattered throughout the tiny 0.54 km² island, once a flourishing hub of the copper refining and stone quarrying industry, is a series of galleries constructed from recycled materials, transparent acrylic glass and aluminium, each reflecting and preserving the landscape, ecology and industrial heritage of the island.

Since 2016, the project has expanded to include Inujima Life Garden, a botanical garden in a greenhouse. Other external companies and businesses that have endorsed the activity have started a bar and amenities for visitors to stay overnight on the island – the ultimate purpose being to open the island as a platform for art and culture and to create an holistic ecology that keeps the inhabitants of the island at its heart.


Hasegawa Yuko, curator of the Symbiosis: Living Island exhibition said: “The island of Inujima is a place that embodies an harmonious eco-system. Through our work, we wanted to create an example of how an island and its community can be revitalized and enriched by living together with art. I hope that visitors to the Symbiosis exhibition will experience the same enrichment from their interaction with the Inujima ‘Art House Project’, not only exploring the concept of symbiosis in their own lives but to maybe even visit the island one day”.

Simon Wright, Director of Programming, Japan House London said: “We are delighted to be able to bring the story behind the extraordinary island of Inujima to life at Japan House London and the work of two remarkable Japanese cultural leaders. Symbiosis: Living Island explores the transformative impact the Inujima ‘Art House Project’ has had on, not only those who live and work on the island, but those who travel from afar to visit.”

Symbiosis: Living Island runs from Saturday 21 May to Sunday 4 September 2022. Admission is free and booking is recommended.

Current visitors to Japan House London can visit Windowology: New Architectural Views from Japan, now in its final weeks. Running until 24 April, this free exhibition shines a spotlight on the humble window, exploring the cultural impact of windows across architecture, film, craft manufacture, manga and motion. From a full-scale replica of the 17th century architectural plan of Yōsuitei teahouse in Kyoto through to an interactive, site-specific installation by artist Tsuda Michiko that aims to distort perspectives through framing, mirrors and film – the exhibition has a little bit of everything. Visit to book.


Media Information and Press Contacts

Press Images:
Press contact: [email protected]

Notes to Editors
About the Inujima ‘Art House Project’ 

Inujima ‘Art House Project’ was launched with the objective of inspiring the local community of Inujima, allowing the inhabitants to experience with beauty their everyday lives and their familiar natural surroundings that extend beyond the artworks, inviting Hasegawa Yuko as Artistic Director and Sejima as the Architect. The project is operated by the Fukutake Foundation.

About Hasegawa Yuko

Director of the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art, Kanazawa (2021–present) and Professor in Curatorial Studies at the Graduate School of Global Arts, Tokyo University of the Arts (2016–present) and Artistic Director of Inujima ‘Art House Project’ (2011–present). Hasegawa has also been Artistic Director of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2016–March 2021).

She has curated numerous exhibitions, including the 2nd Thailand Biennale, Korat (2021); Symbiosis: the lived island, Japan House São Paulo (2021): Sharjapan 3: Remain Calm, Sharjah Art Foundation (2021); rhizomatiks_multiplex, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2021); Olafur Eliasson: Sometimes the river is the bridge, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2020); Dumb Type | Actions + Reflections, Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo (2019–2020); Sharjapan 2: Inter-Resonance: Inter-Organics, Japanese Performance and Sound Art, Sharjah Art Foundation (2019–2020); Desire: A Revision from the 20th Century to the Digital Age, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2019–2020); Intimate distance. Masterpieces of the Ishikawa Collection, Montpellier Contemporain (2019); Sharjapan: The Poetics of Space, Sharjah Art Foundation (2019); Fukami: A Plunge into the Japanese Aesthetic, Hôtel Salomon de Rothschild, Paris (2018); the 7th International Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art (2017); and Japanorama: NEW VISION ON ART SINCE 1970, Centre Pompidou-Metz (2017).

About Sejima Kazuyo

Sejima Kazuyo was born in Ibaraki Prefecture in central Japan. Graduating with a master’s degree in Architecture from Japan Women’s University in 1981, she set up her own practice in 1987 with the name Kazuyo Sejima & Associates.
Sejima’s work soon earned national recognition, gaining her the award of Young Architect of the Year from the Japanese Institute of Architects in 1992. In 1995 together with Nishizawa Ryūe, she founded SANAA. In 2010 Sejima was appointed director of the 12th International Architecture Exhibition of Venice Biennale. Her honours include the Japan Architecture Award, Venice Biennale Golden Lion Award, Rolf Schock Prize, Pritzker Architecture Prize, Officier de l’Ordre des Arts et des Letters, and Medal with Purple Ribbon. She is currently a professor at the Polytechnic University of Milan, and teaches at Japan Women’s University and Osaka University of Arts as a visiting professor. SANAA’s main works include the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, the Rolex Learning Center (Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne), and the Louvre-Lens.

About Japan House London

Japan House London is a cultural destination offering guests the opportunity to experience the best and latest from Japan. Located on London’s Kensington High Street, the experience is an authentic encounter with Japan, engaging and surprising even the most knowledgeable guests. Presenting the very best of Japanese art, design, gastronomy, innovation, and technology, it deepens the visitor’s appreciation of all that Japan has to offer. Part of a global initiative led by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, there are two other Japan Houses, one in Los Angeles and the other in São Paulo.