New York, London, Berlin…. all have a long history with street art and its associated culture, each renowned for their unique style which often capture the inner voice of their creative inhabitants at a given moment in time. An outlet for self-expression; many global cities recognise the significance of street art and the value it holds in providing a showcase to share the thoughts, opinions and ideas of its passionate people with the rest of the world.
In 2006 Berlin was appointed a ‘City of Design’ by UNESCO, solidifying its status and significance as a global creative hub. Melbourne takes its street art adornments equally seriously, even having its own Graffiti Management Plan in place to support upcoming artists.
But where does Tokyo feature on the international street art scale compared with its counterparts? In a country where graffiti is largely associated with gang culture it is perhaps no surprise that it remains illegal in Japan, leaving its streets comparatively bare as a result.
The late 1980s however saw the steady rise in popularity of hip-hop music and culture in Japan, influenced by the likes of streetwear designer and musician, Hiroshi Fujiwara who is often credited with shaping Japan’s music, fashion and art subcultures. With these two worlds often intrinsically intertwined, it is understandable why this shift in popular culture also saw a growth in acceptance of art seen on Tokyo’s streets. Is it art or is it vandalism? The answer remains a source of contention but the steady flow of talented artists continuing to emerge from Japan suggests that perhaps the tides are changing…
KAMI and SASU are two such notable artists and came onto the scene in the late 1990s, collaborating to create unique full-scale wall murals across Tokyo and other areas of Japan under the name HITOTZUKI. With the literal translation of the name being ‘the sun and the moon’, their works depict the fusion between opposing elements through their contrasting artistic style. Curious to discover more about their journey, we recently had the opportunity to talk with them and delve a little deeper…
interview by Hazel Rycraft for Keyi Magazine