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Mushroom Forever

Text: Yoshiko Nagai


The mushroom viewing events held at Kyoto Gosho provide an informative space to be enjoyed by adults and children alike. Invited by a friend who knew a lot more than I did, I originally decided to tag along despite not knowing too much about mushrooms, but now it’s become an enriching monthly occurrence.

Mushrooms refer to the end points of the mycelium of fungi—a network which connects mushrooms both under and over the ground. The job of fungi within a forest environment is to return dead trees and fallen leaf matter back to the earth. Without them, the forest floor would be full of fallen trees and leaves which can’t be decomposed. The mushrooms we can see are indicators that the fungus is currently working.

What I realized through going to this event is that children are really good at finding mushrooms. Perhaps they’re more in tune to the movements of the mycelium and maybe as you get older it gets more difficult to notice mushrooms. While viewing them, I was surprised at how many poisonous mushrooms I found. Poison might not be welcomed by humans, but conversely, for the mycelium they are a non-malignant force and just one part of their natural traits. When asked how does one go about identifying which mushrooms are poisonous, our mushroom instructor told us this: ‘Try and imagine what it’s like to be a mushroom.’ If you were part of their mycelium, what tree would you return to the soil? What tree would you deliver nutrients back from? Where in the forest would your skills prove to be useful?

Yoshiko Nagai
She became an independent curator, after having worked for a company planning and producing cultural activities. She connects creators, artworks, and audiences by creating and communicating values in a way that suits the environment. She is the author of “Out of line,” an exhibition by Alison Turnbull (2020, Tokyo), and the booklet Materia Prima, which is published irregularly.

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