photographic-rich article features
artworks and creative behind the stage stories of Takeshi
Yamada’s original Japanese Samurai Warriors Ceremonial
Reincarnation Masks. This manuscript was
produced by Dr. Eriko N. Bond, an active art critic and
author in New York City, as told by Yamada and edited by
Diane M. Taros
and Deborah Zingale.
Photographs were taken by Takeshi Yamada and Diane M. Taros.
“The possible ancestor of the word mask is Latin word mascus
(or masca) which
means ghost. The mask without the presence of ghost is not a
Samurai Warrior’s Mask # 8 with feathers, Private collection
The mythology of the horseshoe crab written in the Japanese
encyclopedias dated 1697 and 1803.
“Sono rei kashite kore to naru” (Those samurai warrior’s
spirits transformed and became these horseshoe crabs.)
(left) Haniwa (Clay dolls shaped after the Japanese ancient
(right) Japanese official postal stamps of the Haniwa
Fine Art Prints
Yamada also created a series of original pen and ink
drawings (over 200 works on papers) featuring the images of
the horseshoe crab by using the horseshoe crab’s sword-like
sharp, hard tail (telson) as a dipping pen. Dry process
prints (not inkjet print) were created for a wider audience
under the close supervision of the artist. Many of the works
reflect Japanese mythology about the reincarnation of
samurai warriors into horseshoe crabs. Some dramatic
examples are shown below.
(left) Japanese Samurai Warrior Ceremonial Reincarnation
Mask (right) Mythology of the horseshoe Crab #1
(left) Mythology of the horseshoe crab #2
(right) Yamada’s original horseshoe crab telson
(loving, caring and committed relationship between the
and wife like a pair of the horseshoe crabs), acrylic on
paper, 2003. The visual elements
of this Yamada’s artwork were implemented for his series of
exotic canned food artworks later.
also inspired by his research on the food
cultures of various ethnic groups throughout the world.
Consequently, he created a series of
artworks reflecting today’s canned food consumer culture. He
chose the horseshoe crab as the first animal to be featured
in this series. There are currently 77 varieties of canned
foods in the collection.
(left) Coney Island Brand Exotic Canned Food #1: Horseshoe
Crab, drawing in 2002,
(right) digital drawing and photo-print in 2004
Mermaid Princess (Princess Otohime)
art poem inscribed on the sacred stone tablet excavated at
the Palace of Ocean 5,000 years ago predicted Yamada’s
creation of the Mermaid Princess’s paintings on the
carapaces of horseshoe crabs.
Riding on the back of
magnificent creatures with ancient warriors’ souls,
divine creatures once being worshipped as Goddesses in
the Far East shall arrive
on the sublime golden beach of the greatest city ever
built in the world
at the dawn of the new millennium
being led by the son of a warrior king from the country
of Rising Sun.
created over a dozen pieces featuring the Mermaid Princess
on the carapaces of horseshoe crabs. Yamada created a series
of golden pendants by using the prosoma (frontal portion) of
the horseshoe crab. Here are a few examples.
(left) Mermaid Princess #11: 21-1/2” x 9-3/4” x 3”, 2002
(middle) Prosoma Pendant #6: 8-5/8” x 7-7/8” x 2-1/2”, 2003
(right) Golden Mask of Mermaid Princess: 15-3/4”
x 8” x 2-3/4”, 2003
Costume Design and Public Interactive Fine Art Performances
golden era of the circus sideshow culture at magnificent
amusements in Coney Island, elaborately dressed up or
costumed people were essential elements intended to enrich
people’s experience. Wearing costumes and props were a
natural part of the lifestyles of show people to inspire
those around them. Elements of this Coney Island culture can
be found at Disney Worlds today. It should be noted that New
Orleans carnivals and Mardi Gras also incorporate similar
cultural phenomena, although not limited to the boundaries
of carnival grounds in these cases, because the city of New
Orleans itself resembles an amusement park. (For more
information on this unique visual carnival culture in New
Orleans, see Takeshi Yamada’s article entitled Divine
Comedy: New Orleans Mardi Gras.)
American art, the field called “performance art” has a
relatively short history, especially as it occurs at the
opening receptions of art museum exhibitions and commercial
art galleries. Yamada has been conducting over 400
interactive public fine art performances since 1990.
To expose his
horseshoe crab artworks to a wider audience and raise
people’s awareness about this sacred marine animal, Yamada
created a number of interactive public fine art
performances. Yamada also designed and created a
one-of-a-kind costume by using carcasses of horseshoe crabs
collected at Coney Island Beach. Yamada has worn the costume
at numerous galleries, government facilities, and art events
on the streets of New York City.
(left) Takeshi Yamada in full Horseshoe Crab Warrior
Costume with a local popular entertainer, Helen Pontani,
at the annual Coney Island Mermaid Parade in 2003 (right).
Yamada won the King Neptune Award and medal.
(left) Brooklyn Waterfront Artists Coalition Gallery, fall
(right) Yamada at Arsenal Gallery in Manhattan in 2003
(left) Brooklyn Borough Hall Gallery in summer of 2002
(right) Brooklyn Waterfront
Artists Coalition Gallery, summer show 2002 (photographs by
Diane M. Taros)
(left) (left) Yamada at Ground Zero in New York, September
(right) Yamada with his “Red Samurai Warrior Mask” at Pro
Troop Rally at 42nd Street on March 23, 2003.
His picture and interview on the site was featured in
Sing Tao Chinese
(left) Yamada and Lauren Travis at Brooklyn Waterfront
Artists Coalition Gallery, fall 2003
(right) Yamada and Lauren Travis at Brooklyn Waterfront
Artists Coalition Gallery, summer 2004
(Photograph by Diane M. Taros)
(left) Yamada and Lauren Travis at Brooklyn Waterfront
Artists Coalition Gallery in 2003 (art demonstration)
(right) Yamada with two giant prehistoric horseshoe crabs at
Coney Island Beach in 2003 (The Dino’s
Wonder Wheel is shown in the background.) (photographs by
Diane M. Taros)
Yamada by the Cyclone roller coaster of the
(photographs by Diane M. Taros)
(left) Yamada with prehistoric giant horseshoe crab,
Limulus phoenix at Coney Island Beach, 2003.
(right) “Real Brooklyn” photo show at Brooklyn Borough hall.
September 8, 2003. (photographs by Diane M. Taros)
Yamada received “Excellence in the Estuary Award for
Artistic Impression” from the
Partnership for the Delaware Estuary Inc. in Wilmington,
Delaware on September 14, 2004.
Long Island University show in the summer of 2006
Yamada’s artwork inspired by the horseshoe crab has been
featured in numerous media.
(Poster and holiday card published by Partnership for the
Delaware in 2003 (left) and 2005 (right)
(left) photograph of Yamada at Coney Island Creek
(photograph by Leslie Van Stelten)
(right) TV coverage of Yamada’s show at the
library on Channel 4 TV news in
by Merryl Kafka)
information regarding Takeshi Yamada’s horseshoe crab
related artwork, see following websites:
http://horseshoecrab.org/poem/feature/takeshi.html (over a
dozen web pages)
reserved by Takeshi Yamada, October 2006. Museum of World
Wonders in Coney Island, 1405 Neptune Avenue, Brooklyn, New
York 11224, USA. E-mail: email@example.com
thanks to Eriko N. Bond, Abraham Morris, Lauren D. Travis,
Diane M. Taros, Merryl Kafka, and Deborah Zingale.