Footprints of an Elephant in Harajuku

111026-4852: Art Project in Harajuku, Tokyo

While shooting street fashion in Harajuku, JAPANESE STREETS ran into four people leaving giant wet footprints

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“We are students of Tokyo University of the Arts,” one of the four, Taichi Moriyama (22) told me, “this is our project.” Using large wet sponges in the shape of an ancient elephant, they were recreating the walk of a Naumann Elephant to his favorite drinking spot.

111026-4844: Art Project in Harajuku, Tokyo

Mei Fujita (21) creates wet footprints in Tokyo’s Harajuku

“When Meiji-Jingumae Station was built in Harajuku in 1972 they found fossilized remains of a Naumann Elephant,” explains Moriyama,” and where Cat Street is now there used to be a river. So we are making footprints with water from where the fossil was found to Cat Street, as if the elephant has come back to life and is going for a drink.”

The Naumann Elephant was a predecessor of the mammoth and lived in Japan between 20,000 and 300,0000 years ago. Fossilized bones of this species have been discovered at about 200 locations throughout Japan, including in Harajuku.

Naumann Elephant

Naumann Elephants, a predecessor of the mammoth

As you can see in the photographs few people noticed the art project going on. Everybody passed by as if it was the most normal thing of the world that people were leaving wet footprints on the street. I asked Moriyama if other people besides me had asked them what they were doing. “Just a few,” he answered.

I can understand why, the four of them were so involved in what they were doing that it appeared as if they were working. I actually needed some courage to approach them. They looked so serious and avoided all eye contact; I felt that they didn’t want to be disturbed. I am glad I did disturb them, though. Pretty cool project.

Kjeld Duits About the Author

Inspired by the stunningly creative street fashion that exploded on the streets of Tokyo and Osaka in the late 1990’s, photo-journalist Kjeld Duits launched JAPANESE STREETS in 2002. This makes JS one of the first fashion blogs on the net, and the very first to cover Japanese street fashion.

Recent articles by Kjeld Duits:

Comment (日本語もOK)

Awh, that’s neat!

DJ Kittie
Nov 6, 2011 (4406 days ago)

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