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Yayoi Kusama pumpkin sculpture returns to Japan island after typhoon damage

Students at Naoshima Elementary School look at the "Pumpkin" artwork by Yayoi Kusama, which was recreated with the same design as the original work, in the town of Naoshima, Kagawa Prefecture, on Oct. 4, 2022. (Mainichi/Sahomi Nishimoto)

NAOSHIMA, Kagawa -- A popular pumpkin art piece by contemporary artist Yayoi Kusama that was destroyed by a typhoon in August 2021 is back on display here, to the delight of locals.

    The Oct. 4 reappearance of the artwork, a symbol of an art island in west Japan, drew applause from onlookers. Titled "Pumpkin," the sculpture is one of the outdoor pieces of Benesse Art Site Naoshima, and stands on a pier facing the Seto Inland Sea. The 2-meter-high, 2.5-meter-wide fiber-reinforced plastic sculpture, with its distinctive yellow pumpkin motif, remains a favorite of many tourists,

    According to Benesse Holdings Inc., which owns the artwork, last year's typhoon ripped off the metal fittings that had held the work down, and it was swept out to sea. It then smashed against the pier and broke into three pieces.

    The newly installed work reportedly has thicker plastic than the old one as a typhoon countermeasure, and a hook can be attached to the pumpkin's stem so it can be safely and quickly removed in the event of high waves.

    The unveiling ceremony on Oct. 4 was attended by about 80 people, including Naoshima Municipal Government officials and students from Naoshima's elementary and junior high schools.

    Town Mayor Shinichi Kobayashi told people at the ceremony, "When the work was broken, it made news all over the world. I have been waiting anxiously since this morning for this, and I am happy from the bottom of my heart."

    Natsumi Takimoto, 12, a sixth grader at Naoshima Elementary School, commented, "It's shiny and beautiful because it's freshly painted. I was a little sad when there was no 'pumpkin,' but now I'm happy again because I think it will attract many tourists."

    (Japanese original by Sahomi Nishimoto, Takamatsu Bureau)

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