Taro Okamoto, Doppel, graffiti, Juso, Osaka
Photo: Lim Chee WahA mural by Doppel celebrating the late Japanese artist Taro Okamoto

In photos: giant graffiti is popping up in Osaka’s Juso neighbourhood

The Yodokabe mural project seeks to transform the area into an art attraction in time for the 2025 Osaka Expo

Lim Chee Wah
Written by
Lim Chee Wah

Graffiti is a divisive subject in Japan. While attitudes towards this form of street art have relaxed in recent years, it’s still not widely accepted. Which is why it’s encouraging to see that the Yodokabe mural project, which seeks to liven up the Juso neighbourhood in Osaka’s Yodogawa Ward with vibrant murals, has taken off in the last few months – with the support of local residents, no less.

The project founder, Bakibaki from the live painting duo Doppel, started with a larger than life mural inspired by the nurse Florence Nightingale. The colourful mural, painted on the side of a building adjacent to the local ward office, was created to say thank you to medical frontliners during the pandemic. It gained much support from the local community, and with that he kickstarted a crowdfunding campaign in August 2021 to help raise money to add more graffiti to the downtown suburb across the Yodogawa River.

As of the end of last year, four other artists have joined Bakibaki in his quest to create more mural art on buildings in the area. What’s really impressive is that all the graffiti murals by Yodokabe are sanctioned works of art, created with approval from the building owner and the local authorities. One of the largest works is a tribute to the late Japanese avant-garde artist Taro Okamoto. Painted by Doppel, the enigmatic piece spans the side of a four-storey building (about 13 metres tall), which you can easily spot even while riding the metro line in the distance.

In an interview with The Asahi Shimbun, Bakibaki mentioned that he was inspired by the artistic character of Brooklyn in New York. He plans to create a similar vibe in Juso, making it more attractive with art. The Yodokabe mural project aims to create works at about 30 venues in and around Juso and get them ready in time for the 2025 Osaka Expo. 

Here are some of the graffiti from the Yodokabe project. We’ve done the legwork for you and listed down the addresses to help with your street art walk in Juso.

Taro Okamoto, Doppel, graffiti, Juso, Osaka
Photo: Lim Chee WahA mural by Doppel as a tribute to Taro Okamoto

Created by the Doppel duo, this mural honouring late artist Taro Okamoto was completed in just two weeks. (Find it at: 2-4 Nishinakajima, Yodogawa, Osaka.) 

Florence Nightingale, mural, graffiti, Bakibaki, Juso, Osaka
Photo: Lim Chee WahThis mural by Bakibaki is to say thank you to medical frontliners

The work of Bakibaki, this is the Florence Nightingale mural that started it all. (Find it at: 2-2-3 Jusohigashi, Yodogawa, Osaka.)

Mural, graffiti, Borutanext5, Juso, Osaka
Photo: Lim Chee WahMural by Borutanext5 in Juso, Osaka
Mural, graffiti, Lanp, Juso, Osaka
Photo: Lim Chee WahMural by Lanp in Juso, Osaka

Just around the corner from Florence Nightingale are these two murals set side by side. The first, created by artist Borutanext5, depicts treatments inspired by the chiropractic clinic whose wall the mural is painted on. The second is by artist Lanp. (Find them at: 2-1-10 Jusohigashi, Yodogawa, Osaka.)

Mural, graffiti, Naze, Juso, Osaka
Photo: Lim Chee WahMural by Naze in Juso, Osaka

This lively cartoon-like piece by Naze is about 30 minutes’ walk or a short bus ride away from the Florence Nightingale graffiti mentioned above. (Find it at: 4-1-16 Kikawanishi, Yodogawa, Osaka.)

See the Yodokabe mural project website for more information.

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