Symbiosis: the lived island

The exhibition presents the project in Inujima, which aims to revitalize the area through art and architecture


November 30, 2021, to February 6, 2022

Tuesday to Friday

10 am - 6 pm


9 am - 7 pm

Sundays and holidays

9 am - 6 pm



For early booking (optional)

click here


Visit the exhibition with the virtual tour 360º


The Lived Island


A community with approximately 30 houses, where most of the residents are senior citizens. An industrial landscape that had been abandoned, and which is now taken by art and architecture integrated to the local ecosystem. This is Inujima, a small island located in the Inland Sea of Seto, Japan, which covers an area of just 0.54 km² and gets an unprecedented exhibition at Japan House São Paulo from November 30 to February 6, 2022, and with free admission.

Exposição “Simbiose: a ilha que resiste”, no 2º andar da JHSP.

The exhibition “Symbiosis: the lived island”, with artistic direction of Yuko Hasegawa, director of the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art of Kanazawa, Japan, and with expography by the architect Kazuyo Sejima, a founding partner of the SANAA office and winner of the Pritzker award in 2010, brings together works of art, photos, videos, and testimonials of residents of Inujima. The exhibition also features a large architectural representation of the island’s geographic space, famous for its quarries, which attracted the industry’s interest to the area until the mid-20th century. After its stay in Brazil, the exhibition will go on to London and Los Angeles as part of Japan House’s global traveling program.

Espaço expositivo de piso de madeira com adesivos brancos em formato orgânico e paredes brancas. Exposição “Simbiose: a ilha que resiste”, no 2º andar da JHSP.

The Cultural Revitalization of Inujima

Today, among the small traditional Japanese houses that resisted after a crisis in the business activity and the evasion of inhabitants, you can find works of art and architecture, almost as if the island were an open-air museum. This is the Inujima “Art House Project”, which since 2010 has promoted the cultural revitalization of the region, with gradual and small-scale interventions, always in harmony with nature and the local community. Together with the Fukutake Foundation, the project highlights the togenkyo concept, which is used to name something common to everyday life, but unique and full of richness. Inujima is a place that allows for special exchanges with the inhabitants who live there.

Before Inujima “Art House Project”, another project had already highlighted the island’s potential with a first intervention: The Inujima Seirensho Art Museum, designed by the architect Hiroshi Sambuichi, who, at the invitation of Japan House São Paulo, visited Brazil in 2019 for a series of lectures, including on the specifics of the museum’s project.

“The current inhabitants have experienced different moments on the island: From an active industrial past to a reality of little activity and few and elderly inhabitants, which led to a radical change in habits and interests. It is a project that goes beyond the logic of architectural thought and purely constructive practices, using a more experimental architecture. By associating “architecture and art,” it proposes a new occupation and a new way of relating to the surroundings. Sejima and Hasegawa created a series of activities to involve the island’s inhabitants in the beautiful work they are doing,” explains Japan House São Paulo’s Cultural Director Natasha Barzaghi Geenen.

Espaço expositivo de piso de madeira e paredes brancas. Exposição “Simbiose: a ilha que resiste”, no 2º andar da JHSP.

The Harmonious and Mutually Beneficial Coexistence among the Different Organisms of Inujima

As the exhibition’s name itself points out, the symbiosis takes place through the harmonious and mutually beneficial coexistence between different organismsthe past and the contemporary, the environment and human action, residents, and visitors of this unique island.

“The project is little by little changing the local panorama. It is a process of recreating and valuing the island’s landscape while preserving and enhancing its history”, says the architect Kazuyo Sejima, who also visited Japan House São Paulo in 2019, when she gave a few lectures. Among the highlights is Casa F, which features work by Kohei Nawa, an internationally renowned artist who presented a solo exhibition at Japan House São Paulo in 2017 ("Foam"). There is also the Inujima Life Garden, a stunning ecological garden located a short distance from the village, in the western region of the island, where a glass greenhouse was recovered, and an outdoor café was built. In addition, the project offers several workshops and classes for local inhabitants to learn about coexisting with the plants. The artist residence offers an environment where artists can live and experience the island’s daily life while developing their projects.

Obra de metal prata, com aspecto espelhado, pendendo do teto.

“The entire island is imbued with a marked past, which, instead of being erased, coexists with an important and harmonious contemporary renovation, which values and includes the existing population. It is a remarkably interesting regional revitalization model under development in Japan that can serve as an inspiration. Here in Brazil, we can think of a few successful parallels such as Instituto Inhotim, in Brumadinho (MG), and Usina de Arte, in Água Preta (PE)”, adds Natasha. Within the Accessible JHSP program, the exhibition “Symbiosis: the lived island” features audio descriptions, sign language, and tactile elements.

For more information about Inujima "Art House Project”, click here (in English). 

Simbiose: a ilha que resiste. Exposição em cartaz na JHSP.

Inujima "Art House Project" S-Art House. Haruka Kojin “contact lens”, 2013

Takashi Homma


Symbiosis: The Lived Island

Period: November 30, 2021, to February 6, 2022
Where: Japan House São Paulo, 2nd floor
Cost: free admission

The exhibition has accessibility features.

Advance online reservations are optional, but recommended: https://agendamento.japanhousesp.com.br/

Japan House São Paulo
Avenida Paulista, 52 – Bela Vista, São Paulo

Opening hours:
Tuesday to Friday, 10 am to 6 pm*
Saturdays, 9 am to 7 pm*
Sundays, and banking holidays, 9 am to 6 pm*

*Visitation dates and times may change as per the determinations of the São Paulo Plan.

**Due to the coronavirus, JHSP is operating with a reduced capacity.
For more information, click here.

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