I'm standing on the top tier of a Romanesque outdoor theater, which is perched on a cliff overlooking Sagami Bay, waiting for the man who designed it to emerge.

Hiroshi Sugimoto apparently has gone walkabout but, just seconds after his assistant scuttles off to find him, the artist suddenly appears, not exactly stage left, but from a partially concealed staircase, smile beaming out of his bronzed face like a mischievous schoolboy who's just given his teacher the runaround.

"It's dangerous work," he starts, ostensibly to explain his appearance — Wellington boots, faded and slightly muddied jeans tucked inside, white polo shirt tucked inside those and hands resting atop a sharp-looking metal-tipped cane. "I've been onsite every day and I've slipped, fallen and burned myself. ... But it was fun. I started planning this place 20 years ago. We got there eventually."