Shibuya: underground streams, Tokyo

Shibuya: underground streams is now finished. You can read about the events that unfolded here.

Across the world water and rivers are vital to the life of cities. Most people in the world now live in cities, and with global climate change the water on which our growing cities depend is now widely recognised as a limited, precious resource. Spatial Dialogues is a three-year cross-cultural collaborative study responding to the contemporary revaluation of water by exploring the importance of rivers and water in the Asia-Pacific region through public artworks in Melbourne, Tokyo and Shanghai.


Who:  Spatial Dialogues in collaboration with the Boat People Association (BPA)

What: A collaborative art project, with video projections, soundscapes, sculpture and a mobile treasure-hunt.

When: Opening 2 June, 5pm

Treasure Hunt 2-4 June

Continuing throughout the month of June

Where: Jingu-dori Koen Park, Shibuya, Tokyo

There was once a river flowing in the middle of Shibuya, channelling life and beauty into the area. However, as Shibuya developed and became more economically powerful, the river was concreted over. Roads were built on top, and the river forced underground. The river had been erased for human convenience, and the story of the Shibuya River has similarities with the major environmental changes that are happening everywhere on earth.

Over the month of June, the Spatial Dialogues team will collaborate with the Boat People Association on the Shibuya: underground streams art project, when Shibuya will be home to a shipping container full of art that will reflect on such change, inviting audiences to reconsider how local places are shaped by the urban waterscape. It will feature a series of projects by Japanese and Australian artists exploring connections between screen media, sound, sculpture and climate change.

The artworks will include sound recordings of Shibuya River and its surrounding infrastructure recording revealing hidden aspects of the river and new ways of understanding the constructed landscape. Performance and video works will include a portrait of the river documenting its path under and around Tokyo, which will include a performance on the 7th when urban alluvium will be collected and displayed through micro-video. The river portrait will create a partner piece previously created by the team on the rivers of Shanghai. Later, from June 13-16, a sculptural installation will explore how the cities in our region will be affected by a likely rise in global sea levels, and the role of art in dramatizing the findings of climate science will be one of the central questions raised in a public symposium on June 14.

We would like people to join us in our collaboration, which begins on the 2-4 June with a mobile game treasure-hunt for art, entitled Keitai Mizu. Players will have 15 minutes to hunt for various native-only water-related creatures and objects that have been placed around the site. They will then ‘capture’ the art with their camera phones, and share it online on Twitter (@keitaimizu) or Instagram (username keitaimizu). Winners will send only pictures of the native species to the keitaimizu Twitter account. Please see for more details.

This page is also available in Japanese.