The National Relay 

THE NATIONAL RELAY imagines a scenario wherein the Japanese government commissions an event based around iconic landscape monuments from each prefecture.

The Relay is an annual event constructed to create a nationally televised relay race for both seniors and kids. The design brief asked us to imagine a possible urban future for Tokyo as Japan undergoes the world’s first “grey wave,” wherein large parts of the population retire and search for meaningful connections to community.

The design utilizes nostalgia of early 1980’s and 90’s video games and draws inspiration from shows like Takeshi’s Castle, and events such as the Rose Parade in Los Angeles, Carnaval in Brazil, and the Federal Garden Show in Germany.

Each of Japan’s 36 prefectures is granted a plot of land in the proportions of a tatami mat within the standardized dimensions of Japanese schoolyard. Local school associations representing each prefecture fabricate the follies as an expansion of National Sports Day, an existing national holiday in Japan.


The garden follies borrow from 80’s television shows like Takeshi’s Castle, the Parade Float spectacle of Carnaval in Brazil, the Rose Parade in Southern California, Nebuta Matsuri in Northern Japan.
47 prefectures participate, 1 host prefecture each year.

A representative school from each prefecture is allotted a plot.
A community organization and high school representing each prefecture is allotted a plot, with the schoolyard divided up according to logic and proportions of tatami mats.

The televised national spectacle brings high school students and retirees together to foster regional pride and national unity in the face of increasing centralization.
Landscape becomes central to not only an annual event, like the Bundesgartenschau (Federal Garden Show) in Germany, but is also used as a catalyst for development in areas experiencing depopulation.