Watch what happens to Yayoi Kusama's 'Yellow Pumpkin' on Naoshima Island just before a typhoon


It sits overlooking the sea in cheerful yellow glory, an unmarked beacon that is easily distinguished even from afar by its iconic polka dots. Yayoi Kusama’s ‘Yellow Pumpkin’ (1994) in Naoshima is a formidable outdoor landmark that countless visitors make a point of seeing when visiting Japan’s ‘art island’, but as a valued piece of art, it also requires a great deal of care to maintain. 

We’ve been striking out with the relatively good weather all summer. However, it turns out there's a surprising protocol to safeguard the pumpkin when the skies turn ugly. A funny video captured by island local and Instagrammer k24da reveals the team effort involved in this procedure.  

When the forecast predicts stormy weather, this cardinal squash isn’t left out in the wind and rain like, say, a bronze statue. It isn’t ceremoniously covered up in a tarp, either. Instead, it is casually plucked from its usual resting spot by a group of diligent islanders and carted off to a safe shelter until the worst of the typhoon is over.

This painstaking routine was reputedly started after the pumpkin was tossed into the water in a particularly bad typhoon. A fisherman spotted the bright sculpture bobbing in the waves and hauled it back to the island on his boat. Ever since then, the islanders have stood by ready to protect the artwork in the case of extreme weather, and it looks like they'll be having to step in again soon as we face another ghastly forecast of thunderstorms this week.

Can't travel all the way to Naoshima Island? Yayoi Kusama has her own museum in Tokyo; she has also decorated a piano in Shinjuku, which you can play for free.

Share the story
Latest news