zipper boat

Gliding Across Tokyo’s Sumida River: The Mesmerizing Zipper Boat

Have you ever seen a boat that seems to unzip the water as it sails? If you’ve been near Tokyo’s Sumida River recently, you might have witnessed just that—a boat designed to look like a zipper, aptly named the Zip-fastener Ship.

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Photos via Yasuhiro Suzuki

This captivating vessel is the creation of renowned Japanese artist Yasuhiro Suzuki. Though the concept isn’t entirely new—Suzuki first unveiled a scale model back in 2004—the full-sized Zip-fastener Ship made its debut in 2010. Recently, it returned to the limelight as a featured installation at the DESIGNART Tokyo 2020 festival.

The inspiration for this unique boat struck Suzuki while he was flying over Tokyo Bay. From his aerial vantage point, he observed a boat leaving a foamy trail in its wake, which appeared to him like a zipper opening up the Earth itself.

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This poetic vision was further fueled by the unprecedented quietude of the Sumida River during the pandemic. Suzuki remarked that the stillness made him more aware of the water’s ever-changing expressions, a theme he aimed to capture in his art installation.

If you’re finding it hard to grasp the artistic depth of Suzuki’s creation, don’t worry—you’re not alone. Fortunately, there’s video footage to bring the experience to life. Additionally, the Sumida River Sumi-Yume Art Project’s website features a gallery of photos from onlookers who were lucky enough to see the Zip-fastener Ship in action. These images offer a stunning visual narrative that words can hardly do justice to.

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Accompanied by a serene blend of piano and electronica music, the video showcases the boat as it glides effortlessly, its reflection shimmering on the near-empty Sumida River. It’s a tranquil scene that offers a momentary escape from the chaos of 2020, inviting us to hope for a more peaceful 2021.

Titled “Opening the River Zip-Fastener Ship,” the installation was featured from October 31 to November 8. It navigated a route between Azumabashi and Sakurabashi, two points along the Sumida River that historically marked the boundaries between cities.

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According to the event description, the Zip-fastener Ship not only connected these two banks but also seemed to unzip the river’s surface, offering a fresh perspective on the surrounding landscape.

In a world where things are rarely as they seem, the Zip-fastener Ship serves as a delightful exception. It promises exactly what it delivers—a boat that appears to unzip the water as it sails, capturing our imaginations and perhaps even our hopes for a better future.

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