Osaka Brand Committee
Outenin Temple
Outenin Temple
digmeout (Dig-Me-Out) Installment 1
Avant-Garde x Entertaining x Open-Air Theater → Ishinha
Etching x Pastel → Sumako Yasui
Artist x Craftsperson → Yoko Matsumoto
Jokes x Art → Gendai Bijutsu Nitouhei
Sculpture x Flexibility → Kohei Nawa
Installations x Images → Chie Matsui
World Exhibition (Banpaku) x Future Ruins → Kenji Yanobe
Drive x Noise → Rogue’s Gallery
Self-Portrait x Art History → Yasumasa Morimura
 Listen (= Sound) x View (= Art) → Yukio Fujimoto
Yodogawa x Trash x Art→Yodogawa Technique
Biolgical field
Water city
Osaka Kaleidoscope
#1 Yodogawa x Trash x Art→Yodogawa Technique

Yodogawa Technique

While the name of Yodogawa (Yodo River) should be easily recognized as a class-A river that runs through northern Osaka, not many people know about the Yodogawa Technique, or “Yodo-Tech”--a pair of artists who have been using the river as an exclusive stage for their artistic presentations.
For Hideaki Shibata and Kazuya Matsunaga, the Yodo River has been their studio and also a supplier of materials for their artwork. Flowing through the center of the big city, the river carries an amazing variety of objects which eventually drift down to the bank of the river. Unfortunately, many of these objects are illegally-dumped litter. However, Shibata and Matsunaga seem to know how to transform this unwanted trash into a unique, often humorous art piece.

“On the Uchu (Universe)” was one of the Yodo-Tech’s representative works in its early years. It featured a tall tree that had grown naturally on the riverbank, from which a variety of balls, some dumped-and-others just found, were dangling. As all the leaves fell in winter, its entire picture was revealed and created a poetic scene, as if a small universe emerged in an isolated tree standing on a spacious riverbank (the work was removed when the tree was cut down due to construction work). Another work, “Chinu,” was made with a retrieved bicycle, added to with various materials such as rubber and metal to form the shape of a fish.

Although it was also demolished due to an intentional fire, the fish was later restored at “Busan Biennale (2006).” The only exception among Yodo-Tech’s open-air creations is “Torii,” which was built at the foot of Juso Ohashi Bridge and has been officially preserved by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. Yodo-Tech has also created a number of works that can be presented at galleries and museums, by packing a piece of trash like perishable food, for example.
While Yodo-Tech continues to send their messages via trash and litter from the Yodo River, their world of creation involves diverse elements other than dumped items. Nature, seasons, animals (stray dogs, jelly fish, etc.), and residents (homeless people) that are seen on the river, or the communications with fans and friends who come to their periodical event, “Yodogawa Picnic”--Yodo-Tech’s artworks are deeply influenced by these components that appear to have nothing to do with art. Their work never become sentimental or too propagandistic, but simply and almost indifferently breaks through the conventional idea of art. Such strength and natural brilliance are the greatest appeal of Yodo-Tech’s art.

Top: “On the Uchu (Universe)” 2004 Yodo River riverbank
Bottom: “Chinu” 2004 Yodo River riverbank
Courtesy of the artist and yukari-art

People in Osaka have always appreciated people challenging with their own wit, rather than only of good birth. Being far away from the mainstream of today’s art industry, Yodo-Tech makes themselves a perfect candidate for praise from Osaka citizens. If an urban city is characterized by an acceptance of outsider’s culture, Yodo-Tech are also eligible to be part of it since neither of them are from Osaka. “We get the same feeling as we do at home,” said Yodo-Tech about the Yodo River during the interview I had with them. While it is a place that illustrates urban prosperity and contradictions, the Yodo River still provides a natural setting, a waterfront, and a big open sky. This is why the Yodo River became the birthplace of such a unique talent as Yodo-Tech. It makes me strongly believe that Yodo-Tech would not have been discovered anywhere but in Osaka.

July 5, 2007

Yodogawa Technique Profile

Formed in 2003 by Hideaki Shibata (born in 1976, Okayama) and Kazuya Matsunaga (born in 1977, Kumamoto), both of who were students at the same college. Participated in a number of art exhibitions, including “GEISAI (Silver Prize for ‘5’),” “Kirin Art Project 2005 (Grand Prize),” “Busan Biennale,” “Toride Art Project 2006,” “‘SCOUTED! Yodogawa Technique Exhibition (at Gallery ES, 2006)” and more.

Exhibition information

Yodogawa Technique “Yodogawa Kotowaza Dojo”
Jul. 1 (Sun.) - Jul. 16 (Mon.) 11:00 - 17:00 (closed at 16:00 on the last day of the event) Closed on Jul. 8 (Sun.)
Venue: Art Cocktail
3-1-24 Nakatsu, Kita-ku, Osaka
TEL: 06-6371-0012  E-MAIL:

“Yodogawa Kotowaza Picnic”: Jul. 8 (Sun.) at Yodo River riverbank. Please visit the official blog for details.

“Art Chemical Reaction (event)”: Jul. 15 (Sun.) 18:00 - 20:00 at Art Cocktail
Performers: Akira Boy (comedian), Senri (Daido flamenco), Yamanaka Camera (Special Photographer)
Admission: Advance ticket: 1,800 yen, Ticket at the door: 2,000 yen
Call Art Cocktail for details.

Author Profile

Takafumi Kobuki
Worked as an editor for an information magazine and became a freelancer in 2005. Writes art-related articles for Kyoto Shimbun, Bijutsu Techo, Pia Kansai, ELLE, artscape (online) and more.
Personal website: “Katte-ni RECOMMEND”
Personal blog: “Takafumi Kobuki: Art-no Kobujime”