FUKUOKA — “Art doesn’t have to last forever — otherwise it’s like a topic that’s discussed to death,” says Takahiro Ogata, an architect involved in Fukuoka’s annual Tomyo Watching event. The organizers, nonprofit organization Museum City Project, have kept Fukuoka’s citizens on their toes since 1978 with an innovative blend of education and action-oriented art.

“Most people enjoy our events without knowing they’re art,” contributor Akio Tokunaga said, laughing. The projects are popular nonetheless. Tomyo Watching has doubled in size since starting in 1998, with 10,000 candlelit tomyo (lanterns) placed throughout Fukuoka’s historic Hakata district last year. Rows of lanterns formed swirling motifs in temples, bobbed across rivers and poured out of back lanes.

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