Spinning Crocodiles, Tamura Satoru

Tamura Satoru meets Kawaguchi Munichipal Maekawahigashi Elementary School, “We Are Spinning Crocodiles”, 2019, ATLIA, Kawaguchi Art Gallery, installation view
Photographed by Kaneda Kozo

Tamura Satoru, Spin Crocodile, 1994, Kurumaya Museum of Art, Oyama
Photographed by Kigure Shinya


In commemoration of its 15th anniversary, the museum will hold a solo exhibition of contemporary artist, Tamura Satoru. The colorful sculptures of his masterpiece, “Spinning Crocodiles,” will be presented as a large-scale installation work, with a giant 12-meter-long crocodile in the center. Tamura’s works, full of humor, will shake our established sense of values and make us think about the question, “What is art?” This exhibition will be enjoyed by children and adults alike as they experience the artist’s free and rich imagination.

Date June 15 (Wed.) – July 18 (Mon.), 2022
Closed on Tuesdays
Opening Hours 10:00-18:00 *10:00-20:00 on Fridays and Saturdays
(Last admission 30 minutes before closing)
Venue The National Art Center, Tokyo / Special Exhibition Gallery 1E
7-22-2 Roppongi, Minato-ku, Tokyo 106-8558
Organized by The National Art Center, Tokyo
Exhibition cooperation MAKI Gallery; TEZUKAYAMA GALLERY; Nihon University College of Art; Utsunomiya Media-Arts College
Admission Free
Inquiries (+81) 47-316-2772 (Hello Dial)

Artist Profile

TAMURA Satoru(contemporary artist)

Born in Tochigi Prefecture in 1972. Graduated from University of Tsukuba, School of Art and Design, Mixed Media and Plastic Arts, in 1995. He has produced and exhibited works that include “Spinning Crocodiles,” “Standing Bears Go Back,” “Mountains that Climb,” “Rattling Cloth,” “Sculptures with Even Weights,” “Exaggerated and Open Switches,” “Shapes or Letters that Keep Moving,” “A Device to Hit 10 Times,” “Installation Just to Utilize the Space,” and more.


Don’t ask why crocodiles spin.

In the fall of my third year at university, I had the assignment to create “art equipment using electricity.” Unfamiliar with electricity and no experience in the field, I was at a loss. The night before I was supposed to announce my plan, I decided to go to bed thinking whatever I envision first thing in the morning would be what I was going to make. The next morning, for some reason, it was an image of spinning crocodiles that popped up in my head. I didn’t know why but I decided that was it. I made a 4.5-meter crocodile spinning at 30 rpm (in 1994), and it was so beyond my comprehension that I was intensely excited, as if I had encountered something completely alien, although it was me that created it. It was then that I first became really conscious about becoming a creator.
After that, I continued my creative activity for several years, thinking about the meaning of why “crocodiles spin,” until I finally realized that it was not the “spinning crocodiles” that was meaningful, but that this mysterious situation where “crocodiles are spinning, and I don’t know why” is the essence of the work.
There is no answer to the question, “Why do crocodiles spin?” I would like you to take this big question home with you.

Tamura Satoru

Related Events

Workshop: “Making Spinning Crocodiles”

Let’s make Spinning Crocodiles with Tamura Satoru! Your artwork will be exhibited with other many crocodiles at the gallery. (in Japanese only)

Dates April 29 (Fri.), 2022 10:30-15:30, May 3 (Tue.), 2022 10:30-14:30
*This is a two-day workshop. Please apply those who can participate both days.
Venue The National Art Center, Tokyo Annex 3F Multipurpose Room
Target Elementary school students 5th grade and over *Adults can also participate
Capacity 20 people *Reservation required
Participation fee 2,000 yen per person
*The created crocodile will be returned to the participants after the exhibition is over.
*Details will be announced on NACT’s website as soon as it is decided.