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girl with koi
Kat Kazlauskas with her koinobori design at Tokyo Midtown.

Koinobori, or carp-shaped windsocks, designed by University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa students and alumni made a splash at an exhibit in Japan. A group of 13 students and five alumni from the Department of Art and Art History were invited to contribute koinobori designs to Tokyo Midtown‘s festival which runs April 19–May 26.

Koinobori are traditionally flown in honor of Children’s Day (May 5).

UH Mānoa master of fine arts student Kat Kazlauskas is one of the featured artists in Tokyo Midtown’s Street Museum. Her sculptures are made with oyster spacers found on Oʻahu beaches that drifted from Japan. While in Tokyo, Kazlauskas created a life-size koinobori inspired by Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake out of the shipping materials used to transport her work from Honolulu to Tokyo.

oyster spacers
“The One. the Few. The Many.” (2019) Made from oyster spacers collected by Sustainable Coastlines Hawai’i, jute twine, wire, steel.
Dimensions: 7’ x 3’ x 3’

“Being included in the Tokyo Midtown Street Museum has been an honor. I was able to watch the passing people stop and admire the work as I sat at a cafe adjacent to the installation space,” said Kazlauskas. “Having my work in such a high traffic area was wonderful and being able to be present during its time there was invaluable.”

She added, “I feel the work aligns with Tokyo Midtown’s general art and design aesthetic. Following my visit to the exhibition, “Sense of Humor,” at the adjacent 21_21 Design Sight, I delved deeper into the work of Issey Miyake, a designer and artist I have always admired. I saw the correlation between his work and mine, for the first time.”

UH Mānoa alumna Lauren Trangmar, who graduated with a bachelor of fine arts in 2014, is another Tokyo Midtown Koinobori artist. Her koinobori, “Journey to Dragon’s Gate,” was inspired by the legend of the koi fish in the Chinese and Japanese cultures. Trangmar’s design shows rapids flowing past the koi’s scales as it swims upstream, gaining strength as it perseveres against the current.

Lauren Trangmar poses by her blue koinobori design.

Said Trangmar, “I am very grateful for the opportunity. I am half-Japanese (5th generation in Hawaiʻi) but grew up in New Zealand. For this reason it was valuable for me to explore Japanese themes, culture, language further than I have before and then channel it into my practice as an artist. Traveling to Japan for the festival enabled me to engage with other creatives and park visitors, which really completed the experience.”

Department Chair Gaye Chan is in discussion with Tokyo Midtown about UH doing a koinobori encore in 2020.

Tokyo Midtown is a contemporary urban development that opened in 2007 in the center of Tokyo’s Roppongi district. A unique city within a city, this complex includes the Midtown Tower, the tallest building in Tokyo, and consists of offices, residential spaces, retail stores, restaurants, entertainment, recreational facilities, gardens, the Ritz-Carlton Tokyo hotel, the Suntory Museum of Art, as well as spaces for public art, the design museum 21_21 Design Sight, the Tokyo Midtown Design Hub and much more.

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