JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles Presents World Debut of “BAKERU:
Transforming Spirits” Exhibition Opening July 17
Experience the Supernatural World of Japanese Folk Traditions Through
Interactive, Motion Capture Projections Created by WOW
LOS ANGELES -- JAPAN HOUSE
Los Angeles is pleased to present the world debut of “BAKERU: Transforming Spirits,” a complimentary
exhibition inviting visitors to step into the supernatural world of Japanese folk traditions from the northern region of Tohoku,
Japan, through the use of large-scale interactive projections with motion capture technology. At the exhibition on display starting
July 17 through October 6, guests will bakeru (transform) into projected characters wearing special masks and participate in several
festival scenes reimagined and created by WOW, a preeminent Japanese creative art and visual design studio.
WOW’s BAKERU exhibition is participatory with four interactive projection installations to enhance the understanding of regional cultures
epitomized in seasonal folk festivals, particularly those from Tohoku, which place strong emphasis on the transformative power of
nature upon which people’s lives depend. Conceived and created after the devastation of the 2011 earthquake and tsunami – which
accelerated depopulation and fragmentation of local communities, threatening the continuation of festival traditions – the BAKERU
exhibition harnesses interactive digital technology to provide broader access to local culture to audiences beyond the region,
including younger, digital-native generations.
The space also showcases connection between the long-lasting folk traditions and the fast advancing digital technology, between the
northern region in Japan and the world, and between the everyday space and the space of festivities.
Festivals are temporal environments where gods and demigods, as apparitions of nature’s elements, are thought to exist in tandem with
people. The exhibition references four specific traditions originating from different parts of Tōhoku.
is a traditional dance from Sendai City, Miyagi Prefecture, performed by highly-skilled young women with the mysterious
ability to communicate with the gods. They come with several friends, dancing in the rice fields to offer prayers for rain and a
is a religious dance found in Iwate and Miyagi Prefectures, where dancers mimic beasts lunging forward and backward
to pray for bountiful harvest. Its name literally means ‘beast dance,’ and similar dances can be found in cultures around the world.
is a tradition from Kaminoyama City, Yamagata Prefecture in which youth dressed in straw rain-capes run through the city
in the middle of winter. People splash the Kasedori with celebratory water and offer them food. The straws that fall from their
costumes are considered sacred.
is a fearsome deity who lives in the mountains near Oga City, Akita Prefecture, and visits the city once a year on New
Year’s Eve, searching for lazy or misbehaving children to frighten. He travels to each household, receiving hospitality and gifts
until he is appeased and eventually returns to the mountains.
These annual traditions fulfill practical needs of education and community building, and they also remind people of the multiple
symbiotic connections to the natural world; for example, rain fosters crop to grow, the ocean brings fish, and diligent cultivation
promises harvest. However, as nature itself is increasingly being neglected, those festivals are facing imminent disappearance.
In essence, WOW is translating the transformative process embedded in the innately playful and wondrously immersive festive environments
of Tohoku’s seasonal customs into the contemporary language of digital expression, facilitating community building and perpetuating
the traditions and their survival.
JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles will introduce exhibition-related programs and workshops which complement the world debut of BAKERU: Transforming
Transforming Spirits is made possible in collaboration with the following:
Presented and organized by JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles. Sponsored by ANA (All Nippon Airways) and Panasonic. In cooperation with Gyouzanryu
Maikawa Shishiodori, Tokyo Shishiodori, Oga City, Baba no Taue Odori Preservation Society, FabLab Sendai FLAT, Fukunaga
Print Co., Ltd., cap LLC. and Ito Yutaka. Art direction by WOW. Curatorial support provided by tateito-yokoito LLC. and Tohoku
ABOUT JAPAN HOUSE
is an innovative, worldwide project with three hubs, London, Los Angeles and Sao Paulo, conceived by the Japanese Ministry
of Foreign Affairs. It seeks to nurture a deeper understanding and appreciation of Japan in the international community.
JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles occupies two floors at Hollywood & Highland. The 2nd floor features a gallery space and the 5th floor
hosts a Japanese restaurant, relaxing library, and event venue, along with spectacular views of Hollywood and Downtown Los Angeles.
JAPAN HOUSE Los Angeles offers a place of new discovery that transcends the physical and conceptual boundaries creating experiences
that reflect the best of Japan through its spaces and diverse programs.
Location: 6801 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028
is a creative studio innovating experiences in art and design. Based in Tokyo, Sendai, London and San Francisco, WOW is involved
in a wide field of design work, including advertising and commercial works, installations for exhibition spaces, and user interface
designs for prominent brands. The studio’s practice is based on a vision to bring positive change to society, and its original
artwork and products have been exhibited both in Japan and internationally. WOW is passionate about exploring the tremendous
possibilities of visual design; searching for solutions that are useful for society while revealing something true and profound.