Tokyo in Spring: Cherry Blossom Illuminations at Nihonbashi

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Nihonbashi’s resurgence as one of Tokyo’s cultural centers is continuing in 2020, and its next major event features a raft of sakura-themed illuminations and installations around the opulent Coredo Muromachi complex.

Unfortunately due to the outbreak of COVID-19, many of the events that were set to run in tandem with the artworks have been canceled; including food and book markets, and the spring music festival (full cancellation details available on their website).

Yet all hope is not yet lost. If you are intent on avoiding self-imposed house arrest, Nihonbashi’s cherry blossom-hued creations, and modern art centerpieces, offer a nice little diversion from the constant barrage of apocalyptic news. From mid-March to early April, here’s what you can find in store.

Nihonbashi Art Street: Kotobanamiki

Inspired by the weeping cherry tree, this installation from local creative unit NO/SE, is a composition of baby pink and cream white decorations hanging above a flagstone street. The artwork is so very in tune with the classy urban surroundings; paper lanterns, gilted store fronts and an ethereal shakuhachi (wooden flute) soundtrack coursing through the air, lend themselves to the suspended sakura decorations fluttering in a breeze. which funnels down the corridor-like street.

Nihonbashi Art Gate

In the cavernous passages of Mitsukoshimae Station, you can find Nihonbashi Art Gate. The artwork, situated along the Showa-dori underground crosswalk, is a miniature exhibit featuring eight works from eight local artists. The pieces hang from a gate-like structure and broach a wide variety of styles, each one using the Nihonbashi area as its central theme.

Koichi Yairi’s cartoon canvas art, named “A! UN!,” resembles a fusion of Banksy, ukiyo-e and Puff the Magic Dragon. “Time of Nihonbashi” by Satoshi Tamamura is not unlike Edo-themed pop art, harkening back to the days of Nihonbashi’s former glory. And “Tower” by Satoshi Murai is a large and captivating work of abstract surrealism. Of course, this is just a small taster of the artistic talent on show.

The Tree of Light: Tomoshi-Sakura

The otherworldly Tree of Light illumination piece wouldn’t look out of place on a life-bearing exoplanet. Erected on a podium in the middle of Coredo Muromachi Terrace Outdoor Plaza, the structure features 8,000 leaf-shaped lights emanating from a thick artificial trunk.

At the base of the tree, a musician strikes the keys of a piano, with each note reflected in the changing patterns of the Tree of Light’s electronic foliage. The hues are more muted in daylight, before bursting forth in a spectrum of colors come dark – during which time more musicians flock to the podium.

Sakura Light Up

Nihonbashi is full of skyscrapers with sleek, windowed facades and imposing stone buildings around the Mitsukoshimae area. Some of said buildings are involved in the spring festivities, using sakura-pink bulbs to light up the highstreets each evening. The austere-looking Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank, a building of light grey stone and grand Corinthian columns, looks particularly prepossessing when juxtaposed against the soft pink illuminations.

Sakura Menu Walk

The Sakura Menu walk represents a brief seasonal shift on the menus of selected restaurants around the Cordeo Muromachi complex and in the greater Nihonbashi area. 170 individual establishments will participate, including the Craftrock Brewpub which is serving a ‘Sakura Blossom’ seasonal beer for a limited time only. Other seasonal products range from cherry blossom-flavored sweets and treats to special spring cosmetics and floral cocktails.

All artworks can be viewed free of charge; evening is optimum viewing time for outdoor installations. Dates for each piece vary and can be found on the website.

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