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YANOBE Kenji《Sun Sister》Let's go and meet "Nagisa," who is looking to the future of Kobe!

Updated: Jan 11

YANOBE Kenji《Sun Sister》

YANOBE Kenji's sculpture "Sun Sister" stands by the seaside in Kobe City. The work has a sparkling, pretty visual appeal, but it also shows a strong sense of willpower.

This article introduces the charm of "Sun Sister" and its creator, YANOBE Kenji, as well as recommended spots around "Sun Sister. There are many art spots in Kobe, including museums and public art galleries, so be sure to visit them.

What is public art by YANOBE Kenji《Sun Sister》?

How did YANOBE Kenji express his thoughts in "Sun Sister," a portrait of a young girl named after the sun? The background and characteristics of "Sun Sister" will also be explained.

"Sun Sister" was created in 2015 as a monument to the 20th year after the Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake.Located between the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art and the seaside in HAT Kobe, the statue of a young girl standing dignified in a beautiful location is a popular photo spot.

The idea for "Sun Sister'' was inspired by YANOBE's thoughts about the people in the affected areas who have overcome daily difficulties and struggles since the Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, and his hopes for those who are striving to recover from the Tohoku Earthquake that struck in 2011. "Sun Sister'' is like a sister to "Sun Child," which was created in 2011 as a symbol of recovery from the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. "Sun Child '' is currently located in Yanobe's hometown of Ibaraki City, Osaka Prefecture.

Photo by FUJIKI Junichi Photo courtesy of KENJI YANOBE Archive Project.

YANOBE Kenji, "Sun Child", symbol of hope - the sun in his hand, looking to the future.

"Sun Sister" is a symbol of the wish to look to the past, the present, and to continue to watch over a hopeful future. YANOBE has selected the sun, the source of life and energy, as the nucleus of his work. The object of the sun shines in the palm of the girl's hand. The stainless steel used for the large 6.3-meter-tall sculpture reflects light from the sky and sea, recreating sunlight.

"Sun Sister" was named "Nagisa" by an application from the general public, including local children. The name "Sun Sister" was chosen because there are many names that include the word "Nagisa" in the surrounding area, and the hiragana letters make it easy to remember. "Nagisa" will continue to be a symbol of hope, looking at Kobe's past, present, and bright future.

Access to YANOBE Kenji's 《Sun Sister》


1-1-1 Wakihama Kaigandori, Chuo-ku, Kobe, Hyogo 651-0073, Japan (south side of Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art)

Access from the nearest station

  • Hanshin "Iwaya" station, 8 minutes walk to the south from the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art.

  • JR Kobe Line "Nada" Station: 10 minutes walk from South Exit.

  • About 20 minutes on foot to the southwest from the west exit of ・"Oji-Koen" Station on the Hankyu Kobe Line


Outdoor display in front of the grand staircase of Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art


About YANOBE Kenji

ヤノベケンジ 写真提供:KENJI YANOBE Archive Project

YANOBE Kenji is an artist from Osaka, Japan, known for his unique form of giant sculptures. The background of how he arrived at this style will be explained along with his representative works.

YANOBE Kenji is a world-renowned contemporary artist. He was born in Ibaraki City, Osaka in 1965. He majored in sculpture at Kyoto City University of Arts and completed a graduate course at the same university. After a short stay in London, he lived in Berlin for three years, and since 2008 has made Takatsuki City, Osaka as his creative base.

In the early 1990s, he began creating large mechanical sculptures with actual functions under the theme of "Survival in Contemporary Society".His large mechanical sculpture "Giant Torayan" (2005) and other works with humorous forms that remind one of the world of toys, robots, and science fiction, but with a strong social message, have been well received overseas.

Yanobe's unique style was inspired by the site of the 1970 Osaka World's Fair, which was his childhood playground. He says the starting point for his work was the experience of seeing the pavilions and monuments that decorated the event being abandoned in ruins, blurring the line between fantasy and reality. It was at this time that the image of "ruins of the future" was born.

In the late 1990s, he launched the "Atom Suit Project," a humanoid radiation-sensing suit. This project was deeply influenced by the tragic events of Chernobyl, the Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake, and the Sarin gas attack on the subway, and has influenced his style to this day.

Yanobe has established a one-of-a-kind style by sharply focusing on the memories of the Osaka Expo site, elements of anime, manga, and subcultures, as well as social conditions, and continues to be at the forefront of the field.

Recommended places around "Sun Sister"

There are many facilities where visitors can enjoy art in Kobe, where "Sun Sister" is located. The following are three recommended museums located in the 1.2 km north-south area known as "Museum Road".

Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art

Free viewing of architectural models and drawings by ANDO Tadao. Ando Gallery (in the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art)

The Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Art is the largest art museum in western Japan. It was established in 2002 as a symbol of "cultural revival" in Kobe, which experienced the Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake. The museum has a collection of over 10,000 works of art, mainly modern sculpture, modern prints, art related to the hometown, and contemporary art.

The magnificent architecture designed by ANDO Tadao is also a highlight. The contrast created by the ocean breezes and warm sunlight makes the museum itself feel like a work of art.

The museum is in an excellent location, right in front of the ocean, and has a café, restaurant, and museum store, so visitors can take a relaxing break between art viewings.

YOKOO Tadanori Museum of Contemporary Art

The museum is dedicated to the contemporary artist YOKOO Tadanori, who was born in Nishiwaki City, Hyogo Prefecture. It was established in 2012 after renovating the west wing of the former Hyogo Prefectural Museum of Modern Art.

The museum's collection consists of works donated and deposited by YOKOO Tadanori. Unique and special exhibitions are held around the valuable collection in order to convey the internationally acclaimed art of YOKOO Tadanori. The Collection Gallery also offers visitors the opportunity to view not only the works of YOKOO Tadanori, but also those of other artists from his collection, both Japanese and foreign.

A museum store with a selection of original goods and a café are also available, allowing visitors to enjoy Yokoo's world to the fullest.

《Red Wonderland》(1973年)

BB Plaza Museum of Art

The BB Plaza Museum of Art was established in 2009 on the second floor of BB Plaza, a commercial facility. With the concept of "art in daily life," the museum aims to be open to the public in order to allow as many people as possible to become familiar with each of its works.

A little ways out of the way. Experience the World of YANOBE Kenji in the Kansai Region

YANOBE Kenji《SHIP'S CAT(Muse)》  ©Kenji Yanobe Photo credits.:KENJI YANOBE Archive Project

In the Kansai region, there is another work by YANOBE Kenji that can be viewed in addition to "Sun Sister". One of them is "Ship's Cat (Muse)" displayed at the Nakanoshima Museum of Art in Osaka.

Although "Ship's Cat" is highly acclaimed both in Japan and abroad, there are not many places where it can be seen. Take the opportunity of your visit to Kobe to extend your trip to Osaka.

Please check out the article below for a detailed explanation of YANOBE Kenji's "SHIP'S CAT".

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Seeing it will give you energy. “Sun Sister”, a symbol of hope

The city of Kobe has overcome unprecedented disasters. As a symbol of hope, "Sun Sister" has given warmth and light to people passing through Kobe. The "Sun Sister" shining like the sun will surely cheer you up. There are many cultural facilities such as art museums in the surrounding area. We hope you will enjoy your stroll through Kobe's art scene.

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