Drawing on City Walls: Is Japanese Street Art Thriving?

  • Street art is often viewed with negative connotations from Japan’s traditional side. As a country known for order and cleanliness, conforming to street art is a big no-no. Compared to other countries, the street art in Japan is less developed due to the country’s conformist culture. This is why so many local enthusiasts are extending local awareness on the art-loving side of the country.

    How Japanese Street Art Came About

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    Historically speaking, it is not the nature of Japanese people to draw lines on city walls. Thus, the environment for street art seems to rarely exist in the place. Its earliest history can be traced back into the street culture of hip-hop wherein expressing of opinions were done as a necessity by the marginalized sector. It was linked to graffiti which was considered a crime of vandalism. Those who are caught defacing public property are given sanctions such as imprisonment for five years. However, some artists found a way to prevent facing legal penalties by painting in front of an audience.

    The Rise of Street Art

    Live painting has paved the way for many street artists to show off their skills. They often perform on streets, while others do it in bars or clubs. Some places which accept the culture of street art are Shibuya and Harajuku where most young persons and open-minded people come to visit. Some companies have also hired street artists to do art walls in a classy and refined nature. Other murals have been designed modernly by installing music while touching some of the paint’s points. Some of these works have also been used for mass marketing or advertising.

    Japan has even started celebrating a live painting festival known as “Pow! Wow!” last 2015 which actually began in Hawaii. It was brought to Japan so people can start communicating with each other through art.

    Street art is gradually being recognized in the country. There are so many street artists in Japan who are excited to express their feelings and emotions through their works. This is probably one of the ways to achieve an art-loving atmosphere in a conservative country.

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