"Rumors in Ichibancho 4chome" is the third work in the series "Rumors in Japan."
I participated in the art-project "Art Sendai-basho" and spread rumors on Ichibancho 4chome Shopping Street in Sendai.
Ichibancho 4chome Shopping Street is about 400m long. Although it is a little bit far from Sendai central station, it is a famous and historic shopping street in the city, where shoppers and businessmen come and go ceaselessly. During Golden Week (a period in which many Japanese holidays are packed - from the end of April to the early May) it is usually even more crowded.
Working on a shopping street as such, I wondered if I could do something in which passers-by on the street could take part.
...which lead me to the idea of "Rumor-man".
Wearing a monitor, which is a symbol of the transmission and reception of information, Rumor-man goes around the shopping street, with many "Rumor-badges" on him. Passers-by can take a Rumor-badge they like, wear it for a day and spread a rumor of their own. If they wish, they can even make an original Rumor badge for themselves.
"They say he never loses in his home town"
"I heard she is an interesting character"
"Someone was saying she is pregnant now"
Interesting rumors like these spread across the city, generating an atmosphere of spontaneity - "let's enliven our city ourselves".
Every kind of person - passers-by, those who saw it on TV, those who came because they heard about it from their friends - enjoyed it, and performed their role as pixels coloring the city, generating a cheerful atmosphere.
I'd like to emphasize that both the idea and concept of "Rumor-man" were jointly created by myself and "colors" - a creative activity team at the Tohoku Institute of Technology. Without help and support from them, the success of "Rumor-man" would never have been realized.
For the project, I started staying in Sendai and began listening at shops one month before the opening of the project. In the beginning I felt a somewhat shy character from Sendai people, yet being encouraged by their warmth - a kind of warmth that is peculiar to Tohoku people -, I visited shops everyday. In the end, 51 of them participated in the project.
Sendai is famous for having a lot of nature integrated into a modern city and is often called the "city of trees". This can be seen on Ichibancho 4chome as well, where 66 trees are planted along the shopping street. With hard work from the Art Sendai-basho committee, we got official permission to use the space around the trees, where we put rumors related to the shopping street. People showed a variety of responses to these - some showing nostalgic feelings for old stories, others were impressed and surprised.
"Uh, so these are the people doing this" - in order to make the project feel more familiar to people, and to put committee members in the position of those who are rumored about, committee members came out with their own rumors.
Together with names and photos, these rumors were put up on the enormous speech balloon set up in front of a department store. Many passers-by stopped to look at it, and left with smiles.
"I heard there are many beautiful ladies on the committee" - as the rumor went.
koichiro yamamoto 2008morephoto