”marui chikyu no moyogae” / 丸い地球の模様替え (2023) by Hikari Asano

Artist Hikari Asano is currently a graduate student at Tokyo University of the Arts. Over the years, she’s developed a practice of experimenting with washitsu, or traditional Japanese rooms, in surreal and unexpecting ways. As part of her graduating thesis project, she’s created a tatami mat base and kotatsu that spins in the air like a child-propelled merry-go-round.


If you’re unfamiliar with the kotatsu, it’s a winter staple in almost every traditional Japanese room. In essence, it’s a heated low-table with a blanket over it where family members can gather together and eat meals or just be lazy. And they’ve been around for hundreds of years even before electricity was harnessed for the household.

But why make it spin? The artist explained that the original concept for her artwork didn’t include any rotations. But then she happened to try spinning it. And it was fun. That’s reason enough for us.

The entire sculpture moves on wheels, meaning that not only can viewers participate and spin the kotatsu themselves but the piece can also be relocated, allowing the kotatsu to spin against varying backdrops. Hence the title, marui chikyu no moyogae, which roughly translates to ‘redecorating our round earth.’ It’s a lovely interplay between washitsu and death-defying playground equipment, both of which are becoming relics of the past.

Asano’s exhibition is on display in the 1st floor lobby of Tokyo University of the Arts Central Building through February 2, 2023. In march there are plans to relocate it to Nakacho House in Tokyo, a traditional townhouse that has been converted into an art space. You can keep up with the artist on Instagram or Twitter.