20 Yasuhiro Suzuki (Artist)

Yasuhiro Suzuki (Artist)

On the 5th floor of the Midtown Tower, in the Musashino Art University Design Lounge of the Tokyo Midtown Design Hub, artist Yasuhiro Suzuki drew sketches on the whiteboard covering one side of the wall. He was drawing to describe the gravity of the earth, the origins of "kendama" (a traditional Japanese cup-and-ball toy), and the background of his work "apple kendama" (English name: "more trees"). The title of the lecture he was giving was "Below the apple tree of the future", and his ideas held hints to change Roppongi into an area of art and design. If an apple tree like the one Suzuki proposes were actually planted in Roppongi, it could potentially change the life of a visitor in one, special moment.

photo_taro hirano / text_tami okano / edit_rhino

Witnessing something that cannot be predicted

Here I've drawn a picture of an apple tree. Standing below this tree are people of the future who have become tired of using science and technology to predict things that are likely to happen. With this apple tree, there is no knowing when the apple will drop. The people here are waiting to witness the moment the apple will fall, and they are holding sticks in their hands so that they can prick the fruit. They might observe and wait for many days, wondering if the apple will drop because it has become redder, or because there is a strong wind blowing.

The apple might fall when a bird pecks at it. Many things could happen. You can't foresee what will happen, so it would feel great when you finally manage to prick that falling apple with the stick. It would be a wonderful game in which the nature is involved. I think that kind of fun was how the kendama originated.

Looking at the origins of products for hints to the future


Sketches that Suzuki drew on the day of the photo shoot.

The "ken" of kendama refers to the stabbing sword - a sword to stab your enemy. The apple is a very important fruit for humans, but perhaps it might also be an enemy. An apple might have the intention of attacking humans by falling on people who happen to pass by. So people get the urge to fight the apple with swords.

In Europe, this toy lacks the sword part, and there is just a cup to catch the ball. It was the Japanese who thought of attaching the sword to the cup; the sword can be interpreted as symbolizing the male, and the ball as symbolizing the female. When you look at things that people have created and think about their origins, you are eventually led to think about people themselves. I think that human beings are the very theme that links us to the future. We humans are part of nature, and despite the advances in science and technology, I think the important thing is to explore the creature-like expressions of humans and our raw sensibilities.

An apple tree in Roppongi

My proposal for Roppongi is: how about planting an apple tree such as on the green of Tokyo Midtown? You could place a bench nearby where people could wait for the apple to drop. You have to be careful that the apple won't fall on people's heads though...

There would be only one apple ripening in the tree, and it would sometimes fall. On some days, people might go and find that the apple had already dropped. Perhaps "hanko" seals could be placed on the ground where the apple is likely to drop, so that when it falls and makes an impact, the date on the seal is imprinted on the surface. Well, perhaps that would be taking it a bit too far. (laughs) But people should be allowed to take home the fallen apple as a souvenir.

The tree could be a real tree, or a man-made tree. It could be a tree where a person can hide inside and drop an apple when someone comes along. There might be times when the apple falls between two people walking by, and in such a case, each person would wonder how the other would respond. Or maybe a person with unsolved issues about work could approach the tree, and an apple might suddenly drop and help him or her to make a decision. I just think it would be nice if a falling apple could take people by surprise and create unexpected and special moments.