Artist EAT&ART TARO and Yagyug Douguten Collaborate on Sweet Shop in Historic Nara

A gentle light streams into the space, highlighting the stones that are then exchanged for sweets. Photography by Natsumi Kinugasa / Nara City Art Project Executive Committee.

"To understand Nara is to trace back the memories of stones,” artist EAT&ART TARO says about the ancient Japanese capital that’s filled with preserved temples and kamiishi shrines made from rock. Each stone used in these man-made creations, TARO explains, “carries the histories, memories, and values that are found in Nara.” Working with the medium of food, the artist created pastries that resemble local stones for The Stone Confectionary Shop, situated in a former tea house. As its name suggests, the shop enables customers to exchange stones filled with their own memories for treats.

For the interior, TARO collaborated closely with architect Yagyug Douguten and his team who converted a traditional teahouse located on the historic pathway towards the Kasuga Taisha shrine into a space that could support an intricate visual display. Nearly 90 wooden disks, supported by a kukumi framework, create a balanced yet mazelike structure where guests can sit and enjoy their sweets while catching a glimpse of other customers’ special rocks on display.  “We hope that people will find history and value in something as familiar as a stone on the side of the road, and find hope in it,” design team member Fumitaka Suzuki sums up.

Customers can exchange the stones they bring in for sweets through the  circular cutouts in the tatami room. Photography by Natsumi Kinugasa / Nara City Art Project Executive Committee.
“This restaurant was held as an art project by the government to bring cultural promotion to the citizens,” Suzuki says, explaining how the project “creates an opportunity to question the value of various things through the experience of mysterious ‘food’.” Photography by Natsumi Kinugasa / Nara City Art Project Executive Committee.
The 88 wooden disks were repurposed from discarded and reused wood. Photography by Natsumi Kinugasa / Nara City Art Project Executive Committee.
TARO sees stones as sweets, viewing memories tied to each one as a means of understanding the histories and values of those in Nara. Photography by Natsumi Kinugasa / Nara City Art Project Executive Committee.
The exterior of the former teahouse. Photography by Natsumi Kinugasa / Nara City Art Project Executive Committee.



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