SFU students win Powell Street Festival design competition with Karakasa Obake proposal

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      A group of five art students from Simon Fraser University have won Powell Street Festival’s third annual design competition with their Karakasa Obake installation.

      Karakasa Obake is named for a ghost in Japanese folklore that appears as an umbrella with one eye and one leg. Karakasa-obake are sometimes thought of as tsukumogami, old tools that have gained their own spirit.

      The team of Jana Ghimire, Phoebe Huang, Haylee Marx, Elisha Wang, and Carmen Wong plan to create the ghost using recycled matter. This material choice harkens back to the internment of Japanese Canadians, when they used whatever they could to create wagasa (folding paper umbrellas).

      Artists' renderings envision the cyclopic umbrella mounted on a single vertical leg, allowing it to rotate.

      "We value the humorous aspect of this proposal. The concept also spans time, reaching back hundreds of years and referencing both Japanese Canadian internment and contemporary anime and gaming culture,"  said the jury, according to a press release.

      The judging panel included landscape architect Hanako Amaya; artist Tania Willard of Sepwemec Nation; Powell Street Festival Society artistic director Leanne Dunic; architect Shinobu Homma; and Gary Smith of Abaton Projects.

      The project is now under construction, and will be unveiled at Powell Street Festival’s opening ceremony at Oppenheimer Park (400 Powell Street) in August.

      Powell Street Festival is Vancouver’s biggest celebration of Japanese Canadian arts and culture, which has been running since 1977.

      Last year, a team of architecture students from the University of British Columbia won with a Macro Maki installation designed to let participants take selfies dressed as giant sushi.