Statues of Yokohama 04: The Odori Park Experience

Statues of Yokohama 04: The Odori Park Experience

Rodin’s Meditation

The radio announcer warned of the approaching typhoon, but I was determined to get out of the apartment. For five solid days, I sat glued to my desk chair and humped over a 300-page manuscript. Painstakingly, I went line by line to root out misspelled words, ill-positioned semicolons, dangling modifiers, and other miscreants of the English language my overly priced grammar software glossed over. No typhoon was going to keep me locked up inside four walls.
“Expect heavy rainfall!” The radio announcer was getting on my nerves.
Rain? I stuck my hand out the window. Only a drizzle, though dark overcast clouds threatened a downpour. I wrapped my camera into a plastic shopping bag and stuffed it into my rucksack. I was heading for Odori Park near Kannai Station.

The park is one of my favorites. A mile long in length (1.61 kilometers), it stretches from nearby Kannai Station to Bandobashi passing through working-class neighborhoods. Walking along the park on sunny days, I encounter mothers pushing strollers, older men and women sitting on benches staring with wistful eyes at the young couples walking hand in hand, and onlookers huddled around two people pondering moves on a shogi board. But on this day, I had the park practically to myself.



Odd, for all the times when I entered the park, I paid scant attention to the statue whose pose resembled a woman contorted in agony. On this blustery windy day, I stopped for a closer look, and to my amazement, it was one of François Auguste René Rodin’s famous sculptures known as Meditation. A Rodin masterpiece in Odori Park! Yokohama city must have paid a huge price for the art object.


An original Rodin? Hardly. Which member of the city government would vote to place the original outdoors for the sun’s rays to beat down on, the wind to blow gritty dust against, and the birds to use as a bombing target? A replica, then. But an impressive one.  (


The rain pelted the woman but failed to roust her from her inner torment. I scurried under the overhanging branches of trees, but I could not take my eyes off her. Repressed memories must have seeped into her conscious mind. Why else would she hide her face? Why else would she contort her body in agony?


The rain stopped pouring and I ventured out from under the branches. Time for me to move on; the clouds were growing more ominous


As I walked away, I saw she had turned her back on me. “I want to be alone.”

Mother Nature’s World of Art

I walked along the path in the direction of Bandobashi and spotted a tree with an unusual shape. The sight nudged my mind into a fanciful world of art. The tree reminded me of the early stages of a carving of a Moai face. Soon, the artist will sculpt the eyes and ears to complete the image.





In my fanciful world, the barks of other trees were transformed into paintings on coarse canvasses. The colors and textures possessed the qualities only Mother Nature could create.


Even the rust and corrosion on a metal door showed evidence of Mother Nature’s artistry. The deft brush strokes created a painting that could hang over a living room fireplace.

I made a note to take more photos of Mother Nature’s artwork at another time for later blogs with a different theme.


Abstracts and Cubism

I hurried along the path until I reached another sculpture. An abstract by Henry Moore called Three Part Object. I must confess, for the many times I have visited Odori Park, I walked by this sculpture without giving it even a glance. On this day, I examined the abstraction from different angles but failed to increase my understanding of its significance. Yes, it definitely was a Three Part Object. But was there something more beyond that patchy conclusion? What was I missing?

The rain fell gently as if to say, better get a move on. Heavy rain is a-coming.  I left the enigmatic Three Part Object behind and rushed to the Isezakicho/Chojamachi Subway Station. There I encountered at the top of the steps leading down to the subway a sculpture that reminded me of paintings by Pablo Picasso during his Cubism period. (


Le Belle Servante

This work was sculpted by Ossip Zadkine. (  The sculpture was pleasing to my eyes and I wished I could have spent more time admiring it. The heavy rainfall forced me to dash down the stairs into the shelter of the subway station.

Le Belle Servante

After Thoughts

On the subway back to Yokohama Station, I wondered what the local residents thought about the works of art in Odori Park. I couldn’t imagine mothers remarking to each other, “My, Rodin’s Meditation is certainly impressive.” Nor could I see the people huddling around two competitors plotting out moves on the shogi board commenting, “Cubism forces people to look at art in an unconventional manner.”

At home, I found elucidating articles on the internet discussing the benefits of placing artistic works in public parks. Number one reason, as stated in the Amherst Public Art Commission pdf file, it is public. Everyone has access to the works. I venture to say few if any of the visitors to Odori Park have ever entered an art museum. They may not know about Rodin or have heard of Cubism. At least they can look ever so briefly at the funny-looking statues for a fleeting distraction from their everyday lives.

The sculptures served another purpose for me on that blustery rainy day. They prompted me to research the biographies of three human beings and to read about Cubism. I would wager the curiosity of a few others has also been piqued to the extent they felt emboldened to visit an art museum.

For me, the sculptures contribute to the ambiance of Odori Park. Remove them and you might as well order the shogi enthusiasts off the premises. The artworks are familiar sights along with the mothers pushing carriages, young couples nudging one another affectionately, and foreigners focusing cameras on tree trunks. Taken together, they create the Odori Park Experience.


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A pdf file for downloading–10-Great-Reasons-to-Support-Public-Art—Broudy?bidId=

Check out earlier editions of Statues of Yokohama

Statues of Yokohama 03: Vignettes in Tammachi Park



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