South of the southernmost primary Japanese island of Kyushu, are a group of islands called the Osumi, part of Kagoshima Prefecture. One of the largest in the group is Yakushima, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its lush subtropical evergreen forest. It’s also home to some of the world’s longest-living flora, one of which is a magnificent specimen of Japanese cedar (yakusugi). This particular tree is revered for the fact that it’s dated to be anywhere from over 2,000 to 7,000 years old. The tree is called Jomon-sugi due to possibly growing since the Japanese prehistoric Jomon period. In honor of the long-lived Jomon-sugi, a UNESCO World Heritage art expo that’s currently being held in Kagoshima features one exhibit done in LEGO. This sculpture of the ancient tree, measuring 120 centimeters tall, was built by Osaka-based LEGO artist Kanna Nakayama, using some 15,000 LEGO pieces to depict Jomon-sugi’s trunk, branches and leaves. Nakayama says of it, “I arranged the bricks to express the dignified presence of Jomon-sugi.”
Jomon-sugi is joined by several other LEGO builds of famous UNESCO landmarks and is hosted by LEGO Japan Ltd. The exhibition has been travelling around Japan and has appeared in 60 cities and towns. This is the first trip of the exhibit to Kagoshima, the prefecture of which includes Yakushima, thus adding a touch of local pride to the display.
The UNESCO World Heritage LEGO art exhibit is on display at the Reimeikan (Kagoshima Prefectural Museum of Culture) in Kagoshima City up until September 2.