Motoi Yamamoto refers to himself as a “Salt Installation Artist.” Working with a tool that resembles a baster loaded with salt, he “paints” intricate, three-dimensional labyrinths of salt. And he’s been doing so ever since his sister passed away from a brain tumor at the age of 24.


We think of salt primarily as a cooking ingredient but in Japan it’s an element of the Shinto tradition that symbolizes purification. And it plays a fundamental role in rites surrounding death.

For the last several years Yamamoto has traveled the world creating sprawling installations of poured salt that resemble mazes, tree roots, whirlpools or the universe. Figuratively and literally one can easily get lost in the intricate installations that are the result of hours of meticulous pouring.

His latest installation is on view during the Setouchi Triennale 2016 on the island of Takamijima. “Floating Garden” was created on the 2nd floor of an old Japanese home, and is “reminiscent of the tidal currents around the Shiwaku Islands, interspersed with spirals signifying rebirth and eternity.” As in standard Yamamoto tradition, the sculpture will be destroyed, and the salt returned to the sea, on the final day of the festival: November 6, 2016.

Heading to the Setouchi Triennale? Check out our guide to the art islands.