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“Parting Gift to the Island’s Maritime Days” on Awashima

Parting Gift to the Island’s Maritime Days is a very interesting project on Awashima.

Some background first. Awashima is one of the Shiwaku islands in the Seto Inland Sea. These islands were renowned for centuries for having the best seafarers in Japan. For years, Awashima was the home of Japan’s first (and main?) maritime school for most of the 20th century (it closed in the 1980s). Nowadays, like most of the islands of the country, it suffers greatly from depopulation. It’s also one of the first islands in the area to develop local art as a way to revitalize the community. Of course, it eventually joined the Setouchi Triennale but as one of the “Western islands” of the Triennale, it’s only a part of it during the Autumn session.

However, a lot of local independent art is made and is present on the island regardless of the Triennale. Parting Gift to the Island’s Maritime Days is one of these projects.

It’s a real community project in the sense that it is not made by one artist, but by many local people, and even visitors can join in at times.

The project was started in a design course at Zentsuji Dai-ichi High School and it aims at honoring the island’s maritime history.

Taking boating knots as its base “material” various installations and structures were created and are exhibited on the island (and also in the city of Mitoyo, I believe).

The main elements of the projects can be found in Awashima Artist Village, the island’s former junior high school that was turned into several exhibit halls and workshop rooms for the island’s artists in residence and more (including the Setouchi Triennale).

How about I show you what it looks like?

Parting Gift to the Islands Maritime Days on Awashima 1
This way, please.


Parting Gift to the Islands Maritime Days on Awashima 5
How the various knots are intertwined to make some sort of net that will then become the main material of the installations.

"Parting Gift to the Island's Maritime Days" on Awashima


Parting Gift to the Islands Maritime Days on Awashima 3


Parting Gift to the Islands Maritime Days on Awashima 4

This shape is reminiscent of Awashima’s general shape and is somewhat common on the island. It also resembles a boat propeller. Also, notice how the basic knots themselves have a similar shape. I really like this fractal dimension.


Parting Gift to the Islands Maritime Days on Awashima 6
You will see it appear in unexpected places and shapes.


Parting Gift to the Islands Maritime Days on Awashima 9
Drawing of the original projects for the main installation (and future ones?)


Parting Gift to the Islands Maritime Days on Awashima 8
Visitors can make more knots if they wished to. They’ll be used for future installations.

Parting Gift to the Islands Maritime Days on Awashima 7


Near the entrance, there was a bilingual text from the students. Some sort of statement of purpose if you want.

Awashima, an island full of pride in sailing and wishing other people’s happiness

Since April 2021, we have been working on the branding of Awashima in our Research class. Awashima is a place with great history and spirit that have connected many people to the island through sailing. However, in this day and age, with the spread of the Internet and COVID 19, the irreplaceable culture of people thinking of each other’s well-being and communcating their thoughts to others is declining. Living in such difficult times, we realized that how important it is to have the spirit of thinking of others that people on Awashima have cherished over their long history.
It reminds us to care for each other, which is becoming less and less common in this age.
This piece of work embodies our wishes and feelings for others by tying the strings together.
We may tie our strings for our family members, friends, a lover, or even our future selves. We hope that it is people who have strong feelings for others that will be tying these strings together.


I’m not exactly sure of the status of the project today, but as it had been going for a good year and a half when I visited it, I assume it’s still around, especially because it’s easily sustainable, even if the original students behind it have graduated and such.

So if you’re ever in the area, go check Parting Gift to the Island’s Maritime Days, and why not make a few knots yourself if possible? And overall, you should visit Awashima, it’s a pretty nice island.


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