Hidden in the valleys of landlocked Gifu Prefecture sits what can only be described as a marriage of Alice’s wonderland and modern architecture. It’s the Site of Reversible Destiny, a massive art installation park perfect for the offbeat traveler. The installation is a culmination of 30 years of collaborative work between artist/architect duo Shusaku Arakawa and Madeline Gins. Grab a helmet at the entrance and get lost.
By disturbing the viewer’s understanding of physics and material reality, the artists hope to free people from the inertia of routine
Arakawa and Gins sought to challenge the human body’s “physical and spiritual orientation to the world and instead of being fearful of losing balance, [visitors should] look forward to it.” By disturbing the viewer’s understanding of physics and material reality, the artists hope to free people from the inertia of routine and help them return to the exploratory state of childhood.
Down the rabbit hole
Start your journey at The Reversible Destiny Office, a cotton-candy daydream of a maze where the ceiling mirrors the floor, and the line between up and down is blurred beyond recognition. The floor rises and dips throughout the maze, with some sections engulfing visitors and others barely reaching waist-level. Think that’s intense? That’s only just the beginning.
Clamber up Exactitude Ridge (be careful not to lose your balance) to reach the main pavilion of the park, The Critical Resemblance House. Its roof is shaped like Gifu Prefecture and it houses a winding maze where visitors will encounter furniture jutting out from walls, missing ceilings, dead ends, and precarious climbs.
A bright yellow doorway signals your arrival at the Geographical Ghost. Squeeze through a pitch-black passage to reach the final room which features a skylight in the shape of Japan. Claustrophobes may want to avoid the Cleaving Hall, which is extremely narrow and challenging to navigate through.
Visitors are encouraged to explore the house more than once. The creators recommend that you “move through the house as though you are presently living in it or you were its next resident.”
Perspective is key
Yep. That roof is shaped like Gifu Prefecture!
Seeing things from multiple perspectives is one of the most important lessons of The Site of Reversible Destiny. For sweeping views of the park, scale the enormous wall that runs its circumference. From this vantage point, the map of Japan embedded within the landscape can be seen. The wall itself is hollow and can be explored as well.
There is no wrong way to experience the art installations, so long as you do it with a sense of curiosity. Does the park truly have the power to reverse destiny? There’s only one way to find out.