in search of Kappa

Designers and architects transform the Okazaki canal area into a test site for investigating infrastructure

Kyoto Experiment has continued to explore the intersections between performance and other fields. Taking this a step farther, this new project presents a “recut” of Kyoto from the perspective of design and architecture. Leading the project is UMA/design farm, a studio whose wide-ranging portfolio includes graphic design, spatial design, exhibitions, welfare, and regional projects, and who also handles art direction for Kyoto Experiment. Partnering with UMA/design farm is dot architects, a team working to present fresh perspectives on social through architecture projects, from planning to construction. Both groups are known for their involvement with the annual DESIGNEAST event.

Together they will examine the theme of urban infrastructure. While on the one hand infrastructure is the organization of economic and lifestyle bases through engineering, it is also an invisible presence in society controlling our daily lives and environments. What has been lost through this? This project will open a “test site” in the ROHM Theatre Kyoto courtyard, ROHM Square, in an attempt to recover what has been lost in modern times due to the advance of infrastructure. A symbol of this is the kappa, a supernatural creature from Japanese folklore said to live in rivers. The courtyard space will host infrastructure-inspired sculptures, along with experiments in finding new ways to use infrastructure as well as workshops. Videos and design notes will be exhibited at Kyoto Art Center.

As Kyoto Experiment aspires to be not just a collection of exciting theater and dance performances, but a communication hub utilizing the performing arts and theater spaces, this research project will form a major signpost toward this goal.

North and South Gallery, Kyoto Art Center
ROHM Square, ROHM Theatre Kyoto

UMA / design farm

Founded in 2007 by Yuma Harada. Based in Osaka, the studio works with regional and welfare projects to create new experiences that visualize ideas through graphic design, spaces, exhibitions, and project planning. Placing an emphasis on thinking and creating together, its design practice is based on repeated dialogue and experimentation.

Its past work includes Shodoshima Hishio-no-sato + Sakate Port Project Relational Tourism, an art project for Shodo Island (Kagawa Prefecture), and the Good Job! project offering employment for the disabled, run by Tanpopo-no-ye, Nara. Its current members are: Yuma Harada, Keisuke Yamazoe, Ryosuke Nishino, and Yuka Tsuda.

dot architects

Toshikatsu Ienari and Takeshi Shakushiro jointly established architecture firm, Dot Architects, in 2004. The base of activity is Kitakagaya, Osaka. They work on not only architectural planning, but also various projects with people from different fields. Super Parallel Design Process is their idea that regardless whether a professional or not, they let various people involve with their projects throughout the process of designing and construction-“Inclusive Architecture” is done by working and building with disabled people, and “Umaki Camp” is done by cooperating with people in Shodo-Shima Island. In addition to architectural designing and planning, they conduct research projects, site constructions, and art projects. The current member is Toshikatu Ienari, Takeshi Shakushiro, Wataru Doi, and Hidefumi Terada.

Concept / produce / exhibitionUMA/design farm + dot architects
FilmKohei Matsumura
Project managerEriko Kamimura
Presented byKyoto Experiment


  • researchlight, Something Here, 2017. Photo by Takuya Matsumi


    Something Here

  • researchlight, Searching with Kappa, 2016. Installation view at ROHM Square, ROHM Teatre Kyoto. Photo by Yuki Moriya


    Searching with Kappa