Site of Reversible Destiny: A Unique Art Experience in Yoro Park

Site of Reversible Destiny: A Unique Art Experience in Yoro Park

Patrick Jack

For those in Gifu Prefecture who are seeking a day-out that is architecturally unique, filled with natural wonder and equal parts baffling and fun: look no further than the 'Site of Reversible Destiny' located within Yoro Park. A truly unique experience.

Experience is probably the best description I can give. It's not a theme park as some reviews will call it and it's definitely not a play-park for kids as others have termed it. So what is it? According to the official website, it's a 'carefully considered construction of undulating planes, shifting colors, and disorienting spaces, thus providing a place of purposeful experimentation'. Make sense? No, didn't think so. Let me try.

The brainchild of a 40-year collaboration between Japanese artist Shusaku Arakawa and American artist Madeline Gins, the 'Site of Reversible Destiny' in Yoro is part of a much larger body of work from the pair's 'Reversible Destiny Foundation'. Arakawa studied at both the University of Tokyo and the Musashino Art University before moving to New York, where he met Gins. Seeking to put the theory of their book, the Mechanism of Meaning, into practice, they designed architectural projects all around the world. Though they both passed away in recent years, their work in 'procedural architecture' carries on through the Foundation to this day and now includes a 'scale-juggling' escalator in Manhattan, a 'Bioscleave House' in the outskirts of New York and the 'Reversible Destiny Lofts' in Mitaka, Tokyo (available to rent). There are also future plans for a 'healing fun house' in Palm Springs, residential areas in both Tokyo and Venice and even a hotel.

Approach to the site

Approach to the site
View of the Elliptical Field
View of the Elliptical Field
View from inside Critical Resemblance House
View from inside Critical Resemblance House
The 'Elliptical Field' in Yoro, the main attraction of the park, still remains their most famous work. Completed in 1995, it has been amazing and confusing people from all over the world for over two decades now. The total area is compiled of nine different 'fragments', or structures, with names such as the 'Critical Resemblance House' and 'Exactitude Ridge'. All of which aim to make you re-think your physical role in space and thus, your real place in the world. When you enter you are given a pamphlet that explains how you should treat each installation to maximize your experience. You are also offered a helmet; one of the main aims of the park is to make you lose your balance, something that is achieved through uneven surfaces, dark corners and Wonka-like tunnels.

Walking around the outer ramparts of the Site

Walking around the outer ramparts of the Site
Best accessed from Nagoya, take the JR Tokai Line from Nagoya Station to Ogaki, then the Yoro Tetsudo line to Yoro itself. It will cost 1170 yen and take about 1 hour but is a very enjoyable journey. The site is right next to the station so pretty hard to miss. However, if you find your destiny wasn't reversed here, and even if you did, Yoro still has lots to offer. Yoro Falls is one of the most famous waterfalls in the area, with a centuries-old legend that it tastes like sake. Very easily reached by a 30-40 minute hike, you walk up the hill past the park following the river until you get to the top. Yoro Falls is a great spot and worth a photo or two, but the hike itself is even better and not too challenging.

Along the hiking route to Yoro Falls

Along the hiking route to Yoro Falls

Along the hiking route to Yoro Falls
The 'Site of Reversible Destiny' is definitely worth a look. At best, you'll find your perspective on life altered by some conceptual art. At worst, you'll have a truly memorable day out, safe in the knowledge that a great alternative is (literally) just around the corner.

Site of Reversible Destiny website

Official website for Yoro Park (Japanese)