Gigantic Wasp Mt. Fuji is just one of the amazing pieces on display at Hachi Tengoku.

In Japan, it’s not unusual to find art museums and galleries in rural areas, particularly in picturesque mountainous areas that attract weekend traveler. And so it was that on her recent journey to Nagano Prefecture our Japanese-language reporter Haruka Takagi came across a unique collection of art at Hachi Tengoku…whose name translates to “Wasp Heaven.”

▼ Hachi Tengoku (蜂天国)

This isn’t a case of a place just picking a wild-sounding name to attract attention and visitors, either. The art on display at Hachi Tengoku, located in the town of Tomi, is indeed created by wasps. So what kind of art do they make?

Absolutely gigantic wasp nests!

The art projects are actually a bit of a cross-species collaboration. Wasps, it turns out, have an instinctual desire to smooth out the outer surfaces of the nests they build. Using that knowledge, Hachi Tengoku’s human staff figured out that if you place two nests next to each other, the industrious insects will start filling in the gap between them, combining them into one smooth mass. So if you gather a whole bunch of nests and cluster them together…

…eventually you can end up with something like this.

You might notice that some of those nests are sitting on top of wooden carvings of the Chinese zodiac animals. 2022 is the year of the tiger, and this year’s jumbo nest, currently being crafted from roughly 20 combined nests, is scheduled to go on display later this month.

▼ Smaller, but still huge, nests are used in mixed-media pieces like these.

There really doesn’t seem to be any limit to how large of a nest you can make using Hachi Tengoku’s technique. For example, here’s a recreation of the Shinkansen, made out of combined nests.

Hachi Tengoku has so much art that it can’t all fit on the building’s first floor, so Haruka made her way up the stairs…

…and then kept looking up to gaze upon the majesty of Wasp Mt. Fuji, which is 3.776 meters (12.388 feet) tall!

Wasp Mt. Fuji is made of 160 nests, and required the work of some 160,000 wasps. That sense of teamwork and dedication is why along with the artwork, you’ll see signs with such stirring messages as “Wasps deserve our respect!!” (蜂は尊敬に値する!!) posted around the facility.

And it’s hard not to be impressed, when you see things like the Wasp Space Shuttle

Wasp Gourd

…and this tower that Hachi Tengoku has submitted an application to the Guinness World Records organization for certification as the world’s tallest.

Then there are the smaller but still clever pieces like the wasp daruma

wasp beckoning cats

…and more.

There’s even a gift shop, though it sort of blurs the linguistic lines. In Japanese wasps are called suzumebachi and bees mitsubachi, but “hachi” often gets tossed around as a catch-all for either. So which the art on display at Hachi Tengoku is made by suzumebachi, it’s mitsubachi who keep the gift shop stocked with various types of honey, like the sakura honey Haruka picked up.

But hey, Hachi Tengoku is a place to celebrate all kinds of hachi, and really, after being so enthralled by the nests they build, Haruka would have felt a little weird eating wasp dumplings again.

Location information
Hachi Tengoku / 蜂天国
Address: Nagano-ken, Tomi-shi, Shikazawa 435-1
Open 8:30 a.m.-5 p.m.
Admission 300 yen (adults), 100 yen (junior high/high school students) (elementary school-age and younger children free)

Photos ©SoraNews24
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