Tag Archives: tokyo

FROM OUR BOOKSHELF: “RACKGAKI” DOCUMENTS AN ERA OF JAPANESE GRAFFITI ART

It’s time again to randomly browse our bookshelves at HQ and re-discover a forgotten coffee-table tome. Today we’ve pulled out a book on Japanese graffiti art. Its title is “RackGaki,” a modified phonetic spelling in the Roman alphabet of the Japanese word for graffiti usually written as rakugaki. Indeed this book from the 2000’s is a document of the works by dozens upon dozens of Japanese graffiti writers and artists throwing up spray-painted tags and images throughout Japan, though mostly in Tokyo and to lesser degree Osaka. The book reveals the heavy influence of early American hip-hop culture in Japan and is a testament to its global reach over the decades. One of the graffiti writers featured in the book goes by the moniker “VERY,” who we met and interviewed for a zine we were editing while living in Osaka way back in the year 2000.

“Here We Are” Street Art at Ships … Harajuku, Tokyo

Amid the labyrinthine back streets that comprise Ura-Harajuku are many examples of commissioned semi-legal street art in little niches of spaces. This artwork is on a wedge of dividing wall between the Ships clothing store and an adjacent building.

Abstract Street Art on Roller Shutter … Naka-Meguro, Tokyo

The Naka-Meguro neighborhood of Tokyo has a distinct feel. It occupies one side of a steeply sloped hill and the expanse of flats bisected by a creek between Daikanyama and Meguro. It’s fashionable in a moneyed-but-hip, indie way, a place where successful creative professionals have settled and where street art is baked into the landscape around every turn.

Japanese Election Campaign Posters on a Wall … Naka-Meguro, Tokyo

The optics and media of Japanese political election campaigns are fascinating for their restraint and orderliness. Campaign posters for the various politicians are put up in designated places in local neighborhoods and often in clusters, like the ones pictured above in Tokyo’s fashionable Naka-Meguro area. The politicians each appear in posters that are basically all the same size and visually tame. In short, as outdoor billboard advertising goes (what ad industry people call “out of home” or OOH advertising), these election posters are a relatively unobtrusive part of the cultural landscape.

Japanese Summer “Hanabi”-Themed Billboard Ad For Coca-Cola … Tokyo

Japan has a long-established, globally recognized and highly-developed sense of aesthetics, especially when it come to design and graphic communications like advertising. This large indoor billboard poster for Coca-Cola at Ark Hills Tokyo references the Japanese summer tradition of hanabi (massive fireworks displays) as beautiful flat, abstract graphics.

Hello Kitty Street Art by D-Face … Ura-Harajuku, Tokyo

 

American street artist DFace artwork often works with iconic pop-cultural imagery, often American retro-comic book styles and skeletal graphics. Here in Tokyo he’s de-constructed a Japanese icon, “Kitty -chan,” better know around the world as “Hello Kitty,” revealing her skull.

  

Shiny Cool Super-Minimal Unbranded Bag of Bear Pond Espresso Beans

On our recent visit back to Tokyo, we picked up a bag of freshly-roasted espresso beans from Bear Pond Espresso at their cafe at On the Corner in Shibuya. We love the totally unbranded, shiny, silvery bag — it’s only markings are the roasting batch and date numbers.

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See Ya Later, Tokyo …

It’s always great fun being back in Tokyo. It’s really a home away from home for us, and we love having the opportunity to re-connect with our Tokyo posse in person and catch up on all the recent art and design developments going on in the Japanese capital. This trip recent trip was no exception. As we head back to GGHQ in New York, we say “See ya later, Tokyo.” We’ll back again in a few months.

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