The future is rural

‘The future is rural’ is about people – artists, designers, visionaries and entrepreneurs – who are deeply invested in re-activating rural Japan. This installation brings them together to tackle issues such as depopulation and the ageing society, resulting in a multi-media work inspired by interactions with local people, local traditions and the cultural heritage of Japan.

A film presents projects and activities from rural Japan, including a scene of the Bon rituals conducted by mountain ascetics at the top of sacred Mount Gassan in Yamagata, which welcome ancestral spirits returning back to earth. Elsewhere, find interactive sheep-shaped furniture pieces and more sheep roaming freely from the Japanese pavilion to other pavilions, indicating the open and fluid borders between different countries participating in this Biennale.

In a collaborative project between the National Coal Mining Museum in Wakefield and artists in Japan, traditional offerings have been made to the God of Makers by families and children. These can be found in a room painted by Japanese artists with non-toxic ink made of foraged coal, an industrial material historically meaningful to the UK audience.

Two 3D Rubbish rabbit mascots made from recycled plastic guard the room to ensure that no-one litters and a Japanese graphic novel, or manga book, tells visitors their story.

This installation encourages our consumer-based world to transition into a maker-based society, where imagination is at the forefront. Seeking to inspire visitors to become potential makers, it asks: Can art break down social, cultural, economic barriers and tackle the isolation and loneliness prevalent in the world we live in?

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Sketch: Ryo Okamoto

Photo: Edmund Sumner



Yuki Sumner

Artists (Japan):

Ryo Okamoto

Katsunobu Yoshida + Ayuko Inaba

Tatsuhiro Ara + Natsuko Ara

Fabricator (UK):

Mauro Dell’Orco

Riccardo Pellizzon

Steve Cook

Documentation (photography and video):

Edmund Sumner

Yuki Sumner


Katsunobu Yoshida


Ryo Okamoto


Video editor:

Canny Richardson

Sound designer:

Rob Szeliga

Project Manager:

Hiromi Kikuchi

Principal Sponsor:

Maeda Corporation


Eric Parry Architects

The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation



The Embassy of Japan in the UK

Japan Association for the 2025 World Exposition

Architectural Association School of Architecture

National Coal Mining Museum For England

Special thanks to:

Shin Egashira, Rubens Azevedo, Yoshiharu Tsukamoto, Yoshiki Hayashi, Assemble, Tatsuya Tanaka, Momona Otsuka, Kiyoaki Takeda, Hiroyoshi Wada and Waco, Junko Kunihiro, o+h, Yuya Itsuka, Kayoko Okamoto, Takashi Hayatsu, Tsutomu and Hiroko Sato, Hamish Low and Nicola Adamson

2023 Exhibitors