Within the vast arena of Japanese sculpture there’s a small niche category known as jizai okimono. The craft involves carving realistic animals whose bodies and limbs are all animated through joints just like the real living thing. Some common subjects are birds, fishes, snakes and insects. It’s a craft that originated in the late-Edo period (late 1700s) when metalsmiths and armor makers, faced with a decline in demand for armor, found themselves with plenty of time on their hands. But ever since it’s modest beginnings, the lobster, with its numerous joints and undulating back, has been considered to be the most difficult and challenging subject.
Ryosuke Ohtake, a young 25-year old sculptor, caused quite a stir recently when he boldly took on the challenge and created an immaculate and animated lobster from wood. What stunned many was that not only was the piece carved from wood (which is considered far more difficult than using copper) but the fact that this was Ohtake’s first official jizai okimono. The lobster was part of a wooden sculpture exhibition at Tokyu Department Store in Tokyo this April. Watch the video to see exactly how realistically this lobster moves.
Do stories and artists like this matter to you? Become a Colossal Member and support independent arts publishing. Join a community of like-minded readers who are passionate about contemporary art, apply for our annual grant, and get exclusive access to interviews, partner discounts, and event tickets.