Koichiro Yamamoto

Japanese | English


As a sister project of Rumors in Noborito, in which rumors of the town are spread, in Secrets in Noborito, children write or draw draw their secret places or favourite places with pictures and words on Uchiwa (Japanese paper fan). This is a project to secretly tell adults about interesting places within the town, for they seem to know the town, but actually they do not.

This project was realized with the full support of Noborito Elementary School. It was sympathetic toward this project, in which art, the town and children closely interact, and accommodated the project in the school's art and craft classes.

800 fans were drawn and written on by all the student of Noborito Elementary School. They suddenly appeared on the night of the local summer festival. If passers by like one they were free to take it. A Ceremonial photo is taken with them and the fan, and they leave a message for the child who made the fan. Those photos and messages were displayed in the town and then given as present to the school. That is how it works.

It is a heart to heart communication with somebody you have never even met.

Art and Craft Class

The project was done in 6 days, in 4 classes a day.

The first thing to do was to put a white paper on the fan they brought from home, and cut it into the shape of a fan. Documents for the parents were distributed, in order to notify them that the finished fans will be displayed in the summer festival and will be given to passers-by. It was absolutely crucial that they come out to see them.

The Summer Festival

The day had come. All 800 Uchiwas were displayed on cardboard that was stacked up as grids, an exhibition space that suddenly appeared. Many of people were struggling to choose one, as there were so many.
They might have felt intimidated or not comfortable in looking at great works of art in white cubes, yet looking at children's energetic works outside, they simply enjoyed it.

Messages and Ceremonial Photos

As they pick an Uchiwa, a ceremonial photo it taken of them with it, and they write a message to the child who made it.

Everything here aims at communication. The child who made it and the person who owns it - I wanted to make this relationship deep and something that remains in their heart.

Although indirectly, the children could see the faces of the people who took their Uchiwa. Yet, the person who took the Uchiwa writes their message thinking "what kind of child made this?" "Is it a boy or a girl?" - things like that.

People who have never met feel they are very close.

It made me think that even when someone buys my work in a gallery, I seldom have a chance to meet or talk with them. Yet there certainly is that chance here.

Display in the Town

As scheduled, 400 Uchiwas left from the festival, people's comments and ceremonial photos were displayed in local financial institutions.

The Kawasaki Shinkin Bank, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ and Mitsubishi UFJ Tsubasa Securities - they were all very cooperative institutions, always wishing to deepen their relationship with the citizens and to contribute to their lives. So many Uchiwas and comments were displayed, so many one could not see the inside from the outside.

Giving Them to the School as a Gift

Comments and photos displayed in financial institutions were given to the elementary school as a gift. It amounted to 12 A1 papers.

Uchiwas left to me were to be attached to a booklet of Noborito Street Art

It was only after all of those had been displayed that the project was complete.


In art-projects, involving more and more people of many different backgrounds serves as a starting point to produce new relationships in the society.

It was my wish that people would feel closer to the supposed-to-be incomprehensible stuff called art,. This idea brought me to this way of working. Yet art is incomprehensible anyway. I don't understand it. And it is a considerable part of my motivation to continue my artistic activities.

I guess "what I understand" is that everything in this world is run with a single value criterion - is it "somebody else's business" or "my business".

When something happens, one feels a sense of reality if it is related to themselves, yet if it is not, they do not. In other words, it is "somebody else's business". Involving many people is a starting point to make people feel this project is "my business".

And for this project, that "starting point" is open to many directions.

Firstly the elementary school, the children there, their parents, their grandparents, relatives and friends. Then people in the town, passers-by, travelers and many others.

So you can enter the project from wherever you wish, and there is a system which reverses the relationship between transmitters and receivers, making the direction circular.

Starting from someone who is trying to "break into the classes", the flow goes to elementary school, then children, and then to the town, and to people there. The reverse flow starts from taking ceremonial photos and making comments. Transmitters are now receivers and vice versa. We may call it a cycle of communication.

This cycle connects unrelated people one after another. New relationships are born, and with it, something new is born in one's heart as well.

Here, there is no gap between pieces of art, or artists (here it includes everybody; children, people in the town, etc.) and those who appreciate them. That is probably the reason why I felt I saw a completely new Encounter-scape on that night of the festival.

Above all, the energy of the children was simply amazing! It make adults notice what they don't have, and our everyday lives, which we take it for granted, are illuminated by it.

koichiro yamamoto 2007