Yokohama, an Object Far Away - Sea Shell is a sculpture attached to the Symbol Tower on Jetty D of Honmoku Wharf in Yokohama. It is a large work, 6 meters in height and weighing 15 tons, made of cast stainless steel. The artist chose the scallop shell as a motif when he learned that scallops had once lived in Tokyo Bay. It is simple to explain the meaning of this monument. The form of the scallop shell is symmetrical, radiating from one point. When enlarged, it has great symbolic power, and its effect is augmented by its central position at the base of the symbol tower, which is also designed symmetrically. Expanding the form of the scallop shell, which once lived in this region, in an extremely durable material, this sculpture expresses the beauty and preciousness of nature. Arrayed around the shell are images of small animals, birds, dragonflies, and a form reminiscent of Katsushika Hokusai's famous print, Wave Off Kanagawa. These images refer to the ecosystem and the lost beauty of the past environment, reinforcing the message embodied in the shell.
Saku gives a special form to the environment of the place where the work is installed and enables the visitor to experience it. In Sea Shell, the artist has chosen a motif that relates symbolically to the local environment. Both works deal with familiar features of the local environment but use very different means of expression. However, Sea Shell resembles Saku in its use of wind. The entire work acts like a whistle, producing a metallic noise like aluminum foil being shaken, depending on the wind direction. The sound, known as turbulence, is created by currents of wind taken into the interior of the sculpture. It reverberates with sounds from ships passing nearby to produce a deeper, more complex sound. The internal structure of the work was designed with the help of an acoustics expert, and a model was built and tested in a wind tunnel.
Yokohama, an Object Far Away - Part 1. Sea Shell, 1986, D Jetty, Honmoku Wharf, Yokohama.
Located centrally at the base of the Symbol Tower, which functions as a lighthouse. Cast stainless steel.
Photo: Naoki Takeda

In Sea Shell, the high-tech elements of the work play an important role in expressing the theme of the value of the natural environment. The first noteworthy technical aspect of this work is its material. The artist used a special, highly durable stainless steel called 25 chrome that had been developed recently. The casting technology met the world's highest standards. 15 tons of steel melted to 15000 C was cast in 90 seconds, then heat treated at 11000 C to increase durability. Any warping caused by the process was repaired afterward.
The technology adopted by the artist in this work was much more sophisticated than it needed to be from a practical point of view. This shows that it was intended to have the special status of a monument.
The technology used to build the pyramids of ancient Egypt is not completely understood today, but it was clearly the best of its time. Contemporary people are interested in details of the construction techniques of the pyramids as well as their simple and grand forms, the social situation of the times, and the authority and economic status of the builders. The advanced technology that made it possible to increase the scale and durability of the pyramids is also directly responsible for their beauty. The Eiffel Tower in Paris was constructed as a form of homage to new technology. Eiffel, the designer, also did structural calculations for the Statue of Liberty. A true monument is a valuable object constructed with the best technology available. A monument that brings together the best construction techniques has the effect of celebrating this technology. The latest technology is applied regardless of whether it is physically or economically necessary, making people aware of the social significance of the monument. The newspaper or television coverage of a new monument often emphasizes the technology applied to the artwork. Tanabe uses the latest technology as part of the effort to give his monuments grandeur and permanence.

Translated by Stanley N. Anderson