Tama River Project



Masuyama created Tama River Project as an antithesis to the conservative nature and lack of hands-on practices of architecture education in Japanese universities. This project was also his first work in which Masuyama combined art with an architectural approach that he had learned in university.

In Japan, on the bank of rivers where lovers hang around, we often see that each pair of lovers sits keeping equal distance from the neighbouring pairs to ensure each other's privacy. Masuyama took notice of such a peculier phenomenon. He created private room-style bench seats and placed them on the bank of Tama River, equidistant from each other. Lovers used such private room benches every day without wondering why the benches were there. In a week, a used condom was found in a bench room as evidence proving that lovers enjoyed the work. In other words, they were caught in Masuyama's trap. Masuyama created the benches in nice size for two adults and cut the rear walls to create the pictograms for male and female that we often see in bathrooms, so that they would be easily recognized as benches for the use of lovers.

Masuyama plans to install this project at the Kamo River in Kyoto - a location notorious for the phenomena of equidistant couples. This project has not been realized yet. However, the plan of such Kamo River Project was presented at Contemporary Art Factory in Tokyo. Considering the results of questionnaire from users of Tama River Project, Masuyama revised the benches and made them bed-type so that they could prompt lovers to do various sexual deeds.   He also improved the design so that the benches could be folded for easy installing.

Bank of Tama River, Tokyo

December 1996

Photo 1&2: Shiro MASUYAMA

A plan for Kamo River Project, Contemporary Art Factory

March 2002

Photo 3: Masaya YOSHIMURA