A graffiti love letter to Tokyo

Written by
Joyce Lam

Originally posted May 8 2014

Japanese people generally like to keep things nice, neat and clean, so graffiti is not something the country (or, at least, the government) likes to boast about. The word ‘graffiti’ translates as rakugaki – a word also used for the kind of scribbling a kid does during boring school lessons. This form of art might be underappreciated in Japan, but someone out there is attempting to make their mark by spraypainting Tokyo’s streets with an eccentric, free-spirited scrawl that says, simply, ‘Tokyo is Yours’.

We’ve spotted the three magic words in Harajuku, Shibuya, Meguro and Shimokitazawa. Bold on billboards, in a corner next to vending machines, on a wall near one of those designated smoking areas. The artist may not be the next Banksy, but the message is simple and straightforward. Even those not fluent in English get it. Tokyo is Yours. Oh yes, yours.

We don’t know who the intrepid spraypainter is, or exactly what their motive is, and Google doesn’t reveal much information either. And given the strict vandalism laws in Japan, the artist will probably never sign off their work in public. But we’d like to imagine it is a kind of modern ode to the greatest city on earth.

We’ve curated a selection of our favourite ‘Tokyo is Yours’ images, sourced from the internet...

Photo from TokyoFashion.com

Photo from TokyoFashion.com

Photo by Lee Chapman (@tokyotimes)

Photo from Mahorama

Photo by @ILLkunn

Photo from TokyoFashion.com

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