In a sleepy seaside pottery town on the coast of Aichi Prefecture, from somewhere deep in the winding streets comes the sound of Marvin Gaye crooning.

Up a hill tucked behind a 6-meter-wide head of a maneki neko (beckoning cat) is “The Listening House,” an installation by American artist Theaster Gates.

Inside, wall-mounted neon pieces hang beside shoji, and a musty tatami smell hangs pleasantly in the humid mid-September air. Visitors climb a flight of narrow stairs and gingerly step through the second-floor rooms, the sound of soul gently following.