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Friday, April 17, 2009

Yokohama becomes creepy — and crawly


Staff writer

Rumor has it that a giant spider has taken up residence in the Bayside area of Yokohama — just across the road from the famed Red Brick Warehouse. "As big as a four-story building," they say it is, with giant brown-metal legs and 2-meter-long pincers. Worse still, information acquired by The Japan Times suggests that the beast is stirring, preparing to venture out into town from April 17.

News photo
Arachnophobics beware: A giant mechanical spider is set to stalk the streets of Yokohama from April 17 to 19. JORDI BOVER

All this is to kick off five months of celebrations to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the opening of the Port of Yokohama. The mechanized arachnid comes courtesy of infamous Nantes-based artist group, La Machine, which brought Liverpool to a standstill last year when they paraded the same giant through that city as part of its Capital of Culture hoopla.

According to the organizers of the Yokohama event, spiders — which weave webs — symbolize networking, reaching out and connecting distant places. Hence, they say, the animal is appropriate for Yokohama, which 150 years ago became one of Japan's first hubs for international trade.

But judging from reactions evident in online videos of the Liverpool parade, "networking" is not the first thing that springs to mind when you see a 12-meter spider lumbering toward you. "Amazing," say several Liverpudlians; others are "terrified." One unfortunate gent can only say, "I thought I drank too much last night," when recalling his first reaction to seeing the creature.

How will Yokohama respond? The spider will feature in a parade around the Bayside area from April 17-19, and will then be exhibited at a facility across the road from the Red Brick Warehouse from April 28 till Sept. 27. The parade is free, but admission to the exhibition is upward of ¥2,200 for adults.



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