Climb up a hill in a park near Kobe, Japan, and from certain angles you’ll see the surreal sight of people sitting on sofas that seem to be floating in midair.
“I wanted to create a seat for the theater of nature,” said Hidemi Nishida, the artist who installed the sofas, which are perched on stands and reachable by stairs or ladders. “I had the idea to bring comfortable couches up into the air.”
Each sofa is only six to nine feet off the ground, but Nishida says its height gives people a completely different experience of the park. “They give you a chance to notice more details of nature, like the gradation of the sky or the skyline of the mountain ridges. This is really a theater.”
People notice the bright white furniture from the bottom of the hill and are drawn up, Nishida explains. When they get to the top, they tend to stay longer than usual. Some bring picnics or have conversations, and others just look at the spectacular view.
The couches sit at the base of the Rokko Mountains, a range that was deforested a century ago, but which is replanted now–despite the fact that millions of people now live at the bottom of the range.
Seven million visitors come to the mountain range each year, and Nishida hopes he can help some of them take a closer look at the park. But the view from the couches won’t last long: the installation, Garden Sky, is up as part of an annual art festival, and everything will come down at the end of November.