The Reborn Art Festival, officially held in 2021 in remembrance of the 10th anniversary of the Great Tohoku Earthquake, celebrates the revival and resilience of Ishinomaki, a town in Miyagi Prefecture near the epicenter of the disaster.
At that time, centuries of history, from a rich aquaculture industry to important historical sites and daily ways of life, were washed away. Now, the town boasts a growing contemporary art and culture scene, best experienced through the permanent exhibits of the Reborn Art Festival.
Oshika (White Deer), by Kohei Nawa, is a towering white deer statue that shifts in color with the tides and setting sun. It represents both the lost deer that wander into human settlements and recalls the holy deer living on nearby Kinkasan. This sculpture is the epicenter of the festival, offering spectacular views of Ishinomaki’s verdant new island growth and sparkling seaside. Seasonally, the path to Oshika features original musical scoring from the festival and a nearby man-made storage cave is also used for Reborn-related events.
The White Road, by Shimabuku, features hundreds of thousands of white stones that connect Ishinomaki’s woods to the sea, ending at the tip of the peninsula that faces Kinkasan. The stone path, built into the area for the art piece to give visitors a view of the ocean, can be seen from Kinkasan’s summit and represents the connection of the mainland to the sea.
Nearby, Room Kinkazan preserves the daily life and hours of the poet Gozo Yoshimasu, who spent months in the Hotel New Sakai while writing. On the windows, guests can enjoy the poet’s hand-written notes, commentary, and drawings that offer a glimpse into his creative process. The room also features a soundtrack and mementos from the poet in the form of his personal effects and books.
Finally, Microcosmos -Melody-, a decorated, hot-pink piano, is on display at Oshika Whale Town, a new structure devoted to Ishinomaki’s long whaling history. The piano allows communication without words, without regard to time or space, to transfer between people who feel the gravity of the area’s history.
Enjoying the Art
All of the exhibits are free to visit and enjoy, although hired guides and tours are the most convenient way to access the locations, as they are quite far apart and not easily discoverable without experience or knowledge. Occasionally, live and pop-up events are still held by the Reborn Art Festival committee.