Aki Inomata Creates Unique Hermit Crab Shelters Inspired by Different Cities

Hermit crabs’ shells are one of the most interesting parts of their anatomy, and they can switch them as they grow. Japanese artist Aki Inomata was always fascinated with this fun fact, and she decided to start making intricate shelters for hermit crabs, inspired by different cities from all around the world.

Inomata worked on many different projects over the years, but she caught our eye with the ongoing installation called “Why Not Hand Over a ‘Shelter’ to Hermit Crabs?” This project started taking shape in 2009 when she participated in the “No Man’s Land” exhibition at the French Embassy in Japan.

Upon learning that the land of the French Embassy has been Japanese for 50 years only to be returned to France one day, she associated the story of two countries peacefully exchanging their land with hermit crabs exchanging their shelters.

She started studying the natural shapes of hermit crab shells so she could create 3D-printed resin shelters they could move into, inspired by architecture from all around the world.

“The hermit crabs in my piece, who exchange shelters representing cities of the world, seem to be crossing over national borders. It also brings to mind migrants and refugees changing their nationalities and the places where they live,” she explained on her official website.