World Heritage Site Tomioka Silk Mill Enveloped in Incredible Imagery and Music Inspired by Japanese Culture during Tomioka Silk Mill World Heritage RUNWAY Event


Tomioka Silk Mill World Heritage RUNWAY, a new project aiming to attract tourism, was held in Tomioka, Gunma Prefecture for six days over two weeks starting on October 6, 2023.

Read More about the Project Here

The Tomioka Silk Mill World Heritage RUNWAY blended video, music, and fashion with the registered National Treasure and World Heritage Site as a backdrop. Held for the first time this year, the event aims to introduce Gunma’s culture to the world in collaboration with the city of Tomioka, inviting guests to enjoy a fantastic experience blending the world of silkworms with another reality.

The Tomioka Silk Mill, where the event took place, was Japan’s first government-run silk mill, built in 1872 with the aim of exporting large quantities of high-quality raw silk. The company commissioned Paul Brunat to decide on the mill’s location, and 10 other Frenchmen brought with them modern yarn manufacturing techniques. The silk industry was largely supported in Japan, also pioneering the advancement of women into the workforce. In June 2014, the location was registered as a World Heritage site in recognition of its historical value contributing to the development of the modern silk industry. In December of the same year, the three main buildings were designated as national treasures.

The event was planned in cooperation with NAKED Inc., a creative company that continues to attract audiences with its incredible digital artwork. The group created a giant 45-meter-wide projection mapped show against the wall at the Tomioka Silk Mill’s West Cocoon Warehouse, a national treasure. The colorful show incorporated production elements unique to Tomioka’s rich cultural history and local nature, and even locals couldn’t help but gasp as the vivid scene came to life during this unique event.

In addition, the World Heritage Site Tomioka Silk Mill NAKED Night Walk™ was held at three locations, including the Former Nirazuka Silk Mill and Silkool Square. Originally developed by NAKED, the Night Walk series has been held during numerous events around Japan in collaboration with local communities, including the Ikaho Onsen in Gunma and the National Treasure Zuiganji in Matsushima, Miyagi Prefecture. The NAKED Distanced Lanterns also returned in five color variations; red, blue, pink, green, dn yellow, each inspired by grass-dyed colors associated with the Tomioka Silk Mill. In addition to the giant projection mapping show, the Tomioka Silk Mill East Cocoon Factory and the former Niratsuka Silk Mill were also lit up, creating an unforgettable nighttime atmosphere in Tomioka City.

Along with the lanterns available for rent, the NAKED Flower Fortune Telling also returned, which has picked up traction on Twitter over recent years. Local young people and foreign tourists both greatly enjoyed the social media-worthy content. Restaurants and souvenir stores around the Silk Mill stayed open during the event as part of the Tomioka Night Gourmet Walk, a collaborative event to help revitalize Tomioka.

On the 14th and 15th, the Tomioka Silk Fantasia ~Silk Fantasy Festival~ was held as a special event on the stage in front of the West Cocoon Factory. Renowned director Junya Yamada, a native of Gunma Prefecture active both in Japan and abroad, led the artistic direction for this special event. His stage production THE SAKE was presented at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the world’s largest theater festival, winning five stars. The event, held at the Tomioka Silk Mill after closing, was attended not only by local residents but also by tourists and foreign visitors, many with NAKED Distanced Lanterns in their hand.

The venue was filled with overwhelming enthusiasm, and the event opened with a giant projection mapping show, followed by a performance by taiko drummer Taishi Yamabe. Under the silent night sky punctuated by the chirping of insects, drums, sometimes delicate and sometimes powerful, echoed through the air. Yamabe put on a magnificent show filled with spirit and soul, inspiring the audience more with each swing.

In a complete change of pace, the Tokyo-based creative group bala took the stage next, bringing their own addictive energy to the space. Comprised of Gen-Z members MANON, SUNNY ONLY 1, DAN, and KANO, bala performed in white costumes inspired by silkworms. The group’s pop melodies wowed the audience, and their beautiful voices captured people’s hearts, demonstrating the free and ever-changing worldview typical of Generation Z.

Lastly, Gunma Prefecture native, composer, producer, and DJ DÉ DÉ MOUSE appeared with a thunderous roar to start the main event–a fashion show. Inspired by a boy lost between time and space, the event mixed the musician’s live performance with unforgettable fashion and dances by the models. Music and bizarre imagery intertwined to bring the local area to life, with Mount Akagi, Mount Myogi, and Mount Haruna providing an even more monumental backdrop to the festivities. The 60-minute show was a true fantasy, and audiences will surely never forget the art-filled night.

On the 15th, the final day, the Tomioka Silk Mill World Heritage RUNWAY event closed on a high note, with the Tomioka Autumn Festival taking place during the day for the first time in four years. The mill has a long history of exporting raw silk to the rest of the world, and this event, like silk, surely introduced the world to the delicate and beautiful aspects of local Japanese culture.

<Event Information>

■Event Name
Tomioka Silk Mil World Heritage RUNWAY

<NAKED Night Walk™ -World Heritage Site Tomioka Silk Mill->
Running: October 6~8 / 13~15, 2023 from 18:00~20:00
Venue: Tomioka Silk Mill, Former Nirazuka Silk Mill, Silkool Square (City Hall Plaza)
Admission: Tickets for viewing (Standing): ¥1,500 (Tax Included)
*The event on the 14 & 15 costs the same amount.

<Tomioka Silk Fantasia ~Silk Fantasy Festival~
Dates: October 14 / 15, 18:00~20:00
Venue: Tomioka Silk Mill / Special stage in front of the West Cocoon Warehouse
Admission: Presale (Unreserved), ¥4,500 (Tax Included) / Presale (Standing), ¥3,500 (Tax Included)

<Contents taking place during the event period>
NAKED Distanced Lanterns® ¥500 (Tax Included)
NAKED Flower Fortune Telling® ¥500 (Tax Included)
*Discounts are available for local citizens and students.

Live Performers: DÉ DÉ MOUSE / bala / Taishi Yamabe
Fashion Show: Ayu / kaori / KANO / SUNNY ONLY 1 / Joel / Ao Sekiguchi / DAN / Shieru Tsuji / Harris / HINA / Koki Masuo / MANON / Moa Yamaguchi / YUKO

Organizers: Tomioka City / Tomioka Silk Mill World Heritage RUNWAY Executive Committee
Co-sponsor: Tomioka City Tourism Association
Planning and Production: Channel47 / ASOBISYSTEM
General Direction: David J. Production
Spatial Direction: NAKED, INC. / Globe Emotions, Inc.

■Official Site