Hermit crabs travel with their houses on their backs, so why not an entire city? Aki Inomata's photo series gives hermit crabs 3D-printed shells adorned with architecture from various nations, giving the impression that these crabs are world travelers.

Inomata explains that she was inspired to create the series upon overhearing that the former French Embassy in Japan was considered to be French territory for a certain period of time, then Japanese territory, then French again. The idea of land changing nationalities reminded her of hermit crabs changing their shells:

The same piece of land is peacefully transferred from one country to the other. These kinds of things take place without our being aware of it. On the other hand, similar events are not unrelated to us as individuals. For example acquiring nationality, moving, and migration.

The hermit crabs wearing the shelters I built for them, which imitate the architecture of various countries, appeared to be crossing various national borders. Though the body of the hermit crab is the same, according to the shell it is wearing, its appearance changes completely. It’s as if they were asking, “Who are you?”


Some crab shells feature miniature cities, others a dramatic piece of architecture. The crabs suggest New York, Denmark, Santorini, or Thailand with a quick change of their shells.

Why Not Hand Over a “Shelter” to Hermit Crabs? [Aki Inomata via WebUrbanist]


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