Home to numerous museums, temples, shopping areas, and a large zoo, Ueno is one of the most popular districts in Tokyo. For those visiting the district, bypassing this strange mural near the entrance/exit of the area station is sure to captivate the curious eye.
Created by Japanese-Mexican artist Luis Nishizawa, this public art piece titled “Fugetsu En’nen” (“Revelrous Dance of Wind and Moon”) depicts a young boy emerging from the gaping mouth of a koi fish, reaching for a colorful pinwheel.
The key to understanding this work lies in an understanding of Japanese tradition. On May 5th every year, Japan celebrates Children’s Day, a national holiday where children are honored for their strength and to have happiness bestowed upon them. The holiday was known as Boys’ Day until about 1948. The tradition derived from an ancient ceremony called Tango-no-Sekku. On this holiday, people fly carp-shaped windsocks called koinobori of many colors on a pole (on top of which they occasionally put a little pinwheel). The idea is based on the well-known Chinese myth of a carp swimming up a waterfall and growing into a dragon, a tale also used to describe the evolution of a certain Pokémon.
Nishizawa explained the symbolism behind “Fugetsu En’nen” in an interview, stating that the carp can also represent the battle against hardship, with the pinwheel representing atomic power, symbolic of the future. He hoped that people who happened to see his mural would stop in shock, wonderment, and curiosity, prompting discussions and inspiring the youth.
Know Before You Go
The mural can be found at Keisei Ueno Station, not JR or the Metro.