Teshima Yokoo House is a very strange and trippy artwork that somehow works. Tadanori Yokoo has a very interesting style that utilizes a lot of the old Japanese art from old Japanese monster movies. They look old but they are done in a very interesting fashion. I had originally visited Teshima Yokoo House before it was finished in 2013 and it was one of the artworks that I knew I had to visit. I was happy that I was able to visit this house for the first time in 2016.
When you approach the house you will have a hard time seeing it. It is a basic black house and but since it is nestled within the other houses of the area it is a bit difficult to see it clearly. Yuko Nagayama, the main architect for the building, worked to create something that is hidden at first but once you get to the side of the house things open up. The outside is covered in blackened wood as well as clear red plastic panels. The panels hide the colours of the garden inside so as you look in there is nothing more than a nice tranquil garden. Yuko Nagayama really worked hard to create something that really showcases Tadanori Yokoo’s works really well.
Once you enter the facility you have to pay the entrance fee. If you have a Setouchi Triennale Pass, it is free. You can usually put your bags down at the front reception and after that you are on to the artwork. Unfortunately photos are not allowed inside the Yokoo House so you’ll have to use your imagination to understand what I saw. A lot of the paintings were very sexualized. There are naked people all over and it felt like I was looking at old traditional photos of Japanese brothels. It was interesting to see but honestly it isn’t my cup of tea.
The main artwork was a huge mural on one wall that was of a samurai engaged in intercourse with a “geisha”. They modified things a lot so it was not very obvious. Many areas were converted with the names of various waterfalls from around Japan and the world. There was a lot of obvious word play for some of them such as the “White Falls” symbolizing a man’s climax. The entire theme is played throughout the building, even on the second floor. Things are definitely a bit crazy but not something that I would personally enjoy.
The main part of the house that I enjoyed the most is the garden. From what I can tell it was designed by Yuko Nagayama. You can see various pictures of it on the internet. It is a simple rock garden with a small pond in the middle. The pond is full of carp and the rocks are painted a bright red. The pond itself is blue and yellow with golden figures scattered throughout the garden as well. When looking at it directly it is a bit gaudy but behind a red filter it looks like any other garden. I’m not sure of the meaning of the work but it was my favourite part.
The major focal point of the complex is the spire or column. When you look from outside you can see a cylinder. The cylinder has thousands of tiles inside and each one has a different waterfall on it. The name of each waterfall is in it as well and the entire column is wonderful to look at. I had fun just enjoying the acoustics as your voice and any other noises you made echo brilliantly. I could have stayed a long time if I had the chance but I also felt as if the staff waiting outside thought I was a bit crazy.
The last thing anyone should do at Teshima Yokoo House is to check out the washrooms. They are in the back of the main house and before you enter the column. The washrooms are not exactly special but they continue the idea of art. The entire washroom was covered in polished metal creating a complete mirror throughout. It was really trippy to enter and somehow I enjoyed it a lot. I didn’t spend a lot of time there but I thought it was great.
Teshima Yokoo House is a very interesting and crazy place to visit. I really liked it and would like to go back again. I may skip it in the future as I may not have time to see everything that I’d like to see. It is well worth the admission but if you are squeamish about sexual imagery, you may not want to visit. I don’t know if I’d bring any kids into the artwork either but that is up to you to decide. The sexual imagery is not blatantly obvious but it is pretty easy to see. Be sure to check the place out as you won’t have any regrets.
- Teshima Yokoo House (Official Setouchi Triennale Site)
- Teshima Yokoo House (Official Benesse Art House Naoshima Site)
- Tadanori Yokoo (Official Site)
- Yuko Nagayama (Official Site)
- Teshima Yokoo House (Arch Daily)
- Teshima Yokoo House (Yuko Nakayama Official Site)
Wow, something you’ve seen but I haven’t: the Yokoo House under construction (in 2013, I didn’t go to Teshima in the Spring as there wasn’t any new art then, it was all starting in the Summer).
Concerning the garden, I’m not too sure who designed it. Back in 2010, Tadanori Yokoo had another artwork in another part of the village, but it basically was the “first draft” of the Yokoo House. It also was a house, that hosted some paintings (including some that can be found in the Yokoo House) and the garden was similar, however less elaborate. (now, Nagayama may have contributed in 2010 too)
Seeing Yokoo House under construction wasn’t that spectacular. Way better when it was finished, but still a unique experience.
I loved the glass floor too but I’m not sure if I’ll be back next time. If I do go to Teshima, I’ll probably stick to Karatohama, Karatooka, and Kou. I skipped Karatohama and Kou last time so would like to go back again this time.
Forgot to mention, my favorite part is the glass floor in the “living room” with the pond going underneath (I’d love to have this in my own house).