Zipper-shaped ship brings unzipping wake in Tokyo’s Sumida River

TOKYO, JAPAN— A ship shaped as a zipper with a wake resembling a zipper being undone, wowed onlookers of Tokyo’s Sumida River Oct. 31 through Nov.8. The “Zip-Fastener Ship” cruised the river as part of an outdoor installation called DESIGNART Tokyo 2020.

The 29-foot ship is made up of a chrome-colored body, bridge, and puller—just like a regular zipper.

According to a website for the exhibit, titled “Opening the River,” a bird’s eye view of a ship’s wake splitting the water’s surface into two like a zipper is what inspired Japanese artist Yasuhiro Suzuki to design and create the zip-fastener ship.

“When the artist Yasuhiro Suzuki looked down at Tokyo Bay from the window of an airplane, the ship and the wake going through the sea seemed to open the sea (earth) with a zipper,” a statement on the exhibit website,, stated.

The statement on the exhibit’s website went on to say due to the recent corona storm, the Sumida River has been visited by unprecedented silence on the surface of the water.

“Suzuki says that it was not until this situation that he noticed the ‘now’ that appeared on the surface of the river,” reads the page for the event of the zip-fastener ship journey. “If you look at the gently flowing Sumida river, you can see the swaying water that changes its shape due to the splash of waves that the ship has set up on the sparkling water surface that reflects the sky. As the fastener ship sails, we will bring out and convey the various expressions of water that lurks around us.”

Interesting Engineering reported there are plans for the ship to travel between Takamatsu and Megijima in Japan and also carry passengers. The online publication reported that in August the boat underwent sea trials to evaluate the risk of rollover. The ship will need approval from authorities before passengers can be loaded onto the unconventional vessel.

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