"There are unlimited colors in soil caused by the complex combinations of various forms of life."
SOIL LIBRARY / NIIGATA (2012)
The soil we harden with our footsteps has a characteristic color of particular area. Soil collected from all over Niigata Prefecture - from rice fields, farmland, cliffs; and so on - is dried and sifted, and plant roots, stones and pebbles are carefully removed. When this is done, the soil starts to show its more vivid colors - red, blue, purple, yellow, beige, orange, brown, jet black.
In 1988, artist Koichi Kurita was in the middle of a trip through Asia when he picked up a handful of the soil at his feet. On returning home, he looked at the soil of Japan with new eyes and found it be as beautiful as a rainbow. In the early '90s he began a project to collect soil from all over the Japanese archipelago. Soil is not only made up of inorganic substances, but also contains plants, animals, and even our own ways of life. It was soil that showed and taught Kurita in a visible form that we are part of the natural world. He has decided to take only a handful of each type of soil, because his desire has no limits. Like an ascetic monk copying sutras, he dispassionately collects soil from all over Japan. He objective is to collect soil from every city, town and village in the country. Currently, his stock contains over 30,000 types of soil.
In Hokkaido, it's white in the north and black in the east. In Tohoku region, pinks and greens appear, perhaps because of minerals. In Kanto region, it's almost always grayish brown and ocher. In the Tokai region it's much lighter - white and beige. As you go west from Kansai region, it's more vivid, with colors like red and orange. In Shikoku region there are many stones, making the soil hard to collect, but one finds blues in unexpected places. In Kyushu region, there's even purple soil - due, perhaps, to activity of old volcanoes. This is the way in which Kurita, who has traveled the globe, reveals "the world's diversity" from the perspective of soil.
The color of soil is affected by its components, by average temperature, precipitation, changing seasons, vegetation, and the activity of hot spreeings and volcanoes. It is also changed by human activity. You could also say that human activity is affected by the soil.