SHIP'S CAT Project / シップスキャット プロジェクト (2017)

Ship's Cat Kenji Yanobe (3'41) 2017
Video: Kenji Aoki
Music: Bei R


SHIP’S CAT, Cats Traveling on Ships | 船に乗り旅する猫「SHIP’S CAT」

SHIP’S CAT refers to c ats from the Age of Exploration. They traveled all over the world protecting cargos and vessels from rats and warding off epidemics, and sometimes healed hearts of the crew members as a friend. Initially, the cats were supposed to get rid of vermin such as rats. But they became a beloved figure due to their cuteness, or was treated as a tutelary figure due to their ability to sense danger.
 The sculpture Cat Lantern (2008-10) aboard the Daigo Fukuryu Maru, which looks like it is wearing a protective helmet or a diving helmet, seems to be a memorial for the loathsome fate of the ship as well as a navigator for a new journey. Yanobe entrusted the cat a role to watch over the future of the new journey of the Daigo Fukuryu Maru, or in other words, the future of humanity.
 Also, he placed Jumbo Torayan (2013), a colossal bust of one of his representative characters Torayan, on an observation deck of Jumbo Ferry that links Kobe and Takamatsu to Shodoshima island. He got the inspiration for Torayan from a ventriloquist puppet of his father who was a fan of Hanshin Tigers baseball team.Torayan wears a protective suit in yellow and black, and thus a tiger is also probably a motif of Torayan (“Tora” means a tiger in Japanese). Historically, there were hardly any live tigers in Japan before the Meiji era, and traditionally people used cats as references when drawing tigers. Hence, Jumbo Torayan seems to be one kind of SHIP’S CAT. The ferry that resembles an ark is led by a steering of Jumbo Torayan to Shodoshima, the island of hope.

「SHIP’S CAT」とは、大航海時代にネズミから貨物や船を守り、疫病を防ぎ、時に船員の心を癒す友として世界中を旅した猫のことである。もともとはネズミなどの害獣退治が目的であったわけだが、猫の持つ愛らしさによってマスコットになったり、危機察知能力があるとされ、守り神のようにも扱われたりしている。
 また、神戸・高松と小豆島を結ぶ連絡船ジャンボフェリーの展望デッキには、ヤノベ作品の代表的キャラクターである「トらやん」の巨大な胸像《ジャンボ・トらやん》(2013)を設置している。「トらやん」はもともとタイガースファンであった、ヤノベの父の腹話術人形からヒントを得た作品であるが、黄色と黒の防護服を着ていることもあり、トら=虎をモチーフにしているともいえる。明治以前は生きた虎がほとんど入ってきておらず、猫を参考に描いてきた日本の伝統から言えば、《ジャンボ・トらやん》も一種の「SHIP’S CAT」であろう。箱舟に見立てられたフェリーは、《ジャンボ・トらやん》の操舵によって、「希望の島」である小豆島に導かれるのである。


Next-generation of SHIP’S CAT | 次世代の「SHIP’S CAT」


Yanobe summed up his works of cats into the image of SHIP’S CAT. A vast cat sculpture, SHIP’S CAT (2017), was initially created for a youth hostel WeBase in Hakata in Fukuoka prefecture. He came up with this concept from the city of Hakata, which was the first artificial harbor in Japan. It was dubbed Sode no Minato, and was the base for sea voyages.
 Cats originally thrived in ancient Egypt, but later they spread throughout the world because they were on ships in order to get rid of rats, and landed on harbors all over the world. Also, cats have reached Japan by the Yayoi period. There is also a high possibility that many cats were on board to protect Buddhist scriptures when Japanese envoys were sent to China during the Sui and Tong Dynasties, and that these cats, who traveled from Hakata, were the first of the many cats we see in Japan today. The cats began their journey from Hakata to the world.
 Which means, cats are also inheriting genes to voyage and adventure just like Hakata. Even when cats become pets, they don’t lose their wildness and keep giving people inspirations. SHIP’S CAT was inspired by the affinity and mystique of cats, and was created as a symbol of journey.
 SHIP’S CAT is a vast cat sculpture that connects the inner and outer part of the building. The huge white cat is sneaking out of the building, and it looks like it is about to jump out to the outer world. The cat wears a helmet that functions as a light, and a suite that looks like a spacesuit or a diving suit. The sculpture is foreshadowing the future of hope for human beings traveling in outer space. In addition, the sculpture was created based on the hope that it would be a guardian in this chaotic world, so it can bring the people safety and beautiful encounters, and aid the voyages of the youths.
 Not only that is a symbol for the hostel, the sculpture is new-generation SHIP’S CAT, entrusted to take over the first harbor in Japan and guide Hakata city as the hub city in the world. WeBase Hakata called on students from the local Hakata elementary school to give a nickname for the sculpture. “Nyapy” was chosen from the many suggestions, and an award ceremony was on September 18th, 2017.

今回、ヤノベは猫の作品の系譜を「SHIP’S CAT」のイメージに集約させている。最初に福岡県の博多にあるホステル「WeBase」のために制作された巨大な猫の彫刻作品《SHIP’S CAT》(2017)は、博多という土地が日本最初の人工港「袖(そで)の湊(みなと)」のあった場所であり、船旅の拠点であったことに着想を得ている。
 つまり、博多と同様に、猫は旅や冒険の遺伝子を引き継いでいるのである。またペットでありながら、野生を失っておらず、人々にインスピレーションを与え続けている。そのような猫の持つ親和性と神秘性に加え、旅を象徴する作品として《SHIP’S CAT》は構想された。
 《SHIP’S CAT》は、建物の内側と外側を結ぶ巨大な猫の彫刻である。巨大な白猫は、建物の中から這い出るポーズをし、今にも外界に飛び出そうとしている。そして、ランプにもなるヘルメットが周囲を照らし、宇宙服や潜水服のような衣装を身に着けている。そこには、宇宙を航海する未来の希望を予兆し、安全や出会いを助ける守り神となって、混迷する世界においても、人々や若者の旅を導いて欲しいという願いが込められている。
 また、ホステルのシンボルであると同時に、最初の港の遺伝子を引き継き、世界のハブ都市となる博多を導くように託された次世代の「SHIP’S CAT」なのである。WeBase 博多は、地元の博多小学校の子供たちに愛称を募集し、多くの応募作から「ニャーピー」が選ばれ、9月18日に表彰式が行われた。


Travelling Maneki-Neko | 旅する招き猫


In Chouyou - Nihonmatsu Art Festival 2017 in Fukushima, SHIP’S CAT(Black) was installed in a place where the Honmaru (the castle’s keep) of Nihonmatsu Castle stood. Black cats have traditionally been considered as a symbol for happiness since the ancient times in Japan. Yanobe developed the work based on this conventional image of cats, wishing to ward off bad luck and bring in happiness.
 In Dannohorinji Temple in Kyoto, black cats are considered as a messenger of Syuyajin, the Guardian of Night, which gets rid of fear and difficulties, salvages all living things, illuminates all existing things and opens the path toward spiritual awakening. A cat sculpture lifting up its right hand was made at the temple in the Edo era, and this became the prototype of the Maneki-Neko (literally "invitation cat”) today.
 Placed on the east turret at Honmaru of Nihonmatsu Castle where one could look over Nihonmatsu City, SHIP’S CAT(Black) created a new landscape, reflecting the surrounding scenery on its stainless steel body. Another type of SHIP’S CAT(Harbor) will be produced and installed on a large bollard in Kamakura. The narrative of SHIP’S CAT that started from Hakata has blossomed into various things, spreading out across Japan as cats did. They will invite happiness from all over the world to board the ship called Japan, and entice people to go on a voyage of hope.

2017年、福島で開催された「重陽の芸術祭」で、二本松城(霞ヶ城)本丸跡に展示された《SHIP’S CAT(Black)》は、日本古来からの幸福の黒猫をイメージし、厄災を払い、幸福を呼ぶために制作された。
 京都の檀王法林寺(だんのうほうりんじ)では、「恐怖諸難を取り除き、衆生を救護し、光をもっ て諸法を照らし、悟りの道を開かせる」(華厳経)と同時に、夜の守り神でもある主夜神(しゅやじん)の使いとされている。江戸時代には、檀王法林寺で右手を上げる「招き猫」の彫像が制作され、それが起源の一つとなり今日の招き猫になった。
 《SHIP’S CAT(Black)》は、二本松市内を見渡せる二本松城(霞ヶ城)本丸跡の東櫓台に置かれることで、周囲の風景をステンレスのボディなどに映しこみ、同時に新しい風景を創り出した。さらに、巨大なボラード(係船柱)の上に乗るタイプの《SHIP’S CAT(Harbor)》が制作され、鎌倉などに設置されることになっている。博多から始まった《SHIP’S CAT》の物語は、日本における猫の伝播のように、日本各地に広がり、さまざまな種となって展開されていく。それらは日本という船に福を招き、世界中の人々を希望の旅に誘うだろう。


Text: Manabu Miki / Translation: Mika Maruyama;
SHIP’S CAT THE SCULPTURE OF KENJI YANOBE, 2017, Tokyo: Raysum Co., Ltd., pp.10-11


Courtesy of Raysum Co., Ltd., ULTRA Factory and Chouyou - Nihonmatsu Art Festival
Photo: Ryoichi Ageishi, Nobutada Omote, WeBase HAKATA, ULTRA Factory and KYAP