It’s probably not even Banksy – or is it? In early January this year, a stencil graffiti of a rat holding an umbrella at a Tokyo monorail station generated a fair amount of excitement in the city as the rodent was reminiscent of a few other graffiti rats painted on the streets of other cities around the world, where are recognised to be the work of elusive street artist Banksy. The graffiti had reportedly been there for a number of years but was only recently acknowledged by government officials.
Unlike the graffiti rats spotted in other cities, however, this one didn’t get to remain in its original spot. Shortly after Governor Yuriko Koike was photographed next to the work, it was extracted from the station and displayed at the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building before being put in storage in late spring.
Now, after receiving a number of requests for the graffiti to be taken out of storage, the government has decided to put the work on display again for the enjoyment of the public. According to several sources, government officials had tried contacting Pest Control, the website dedicated to verifying official Banksy works, to confirm the creator of the graffiti. However, the website asserted that they could not provide authentication on anything involving illegal activity (ie, unsolicited graffiti work) – plus, Banksy rarely confirms whether he is responsible for a particular piece of work himself. If the work is a genuine piece by the infamous British street artist, whose art often incorporates dark humor to communicate political statements, it’s unlikely that he’d appreciate his mural, intended to be seen where he first created it, be cut out and boxed inside a protective case.
That being said, if you feel an urge to speculate whether or not the work is a bona fide Banksy or just a stencil by an admirer, you can go see it for free at the No. 2 passenger waiting area of Hinode Pier (1-16-1 Kaigan, Minato; Hinode Station) between 10am and 7pm daily. The graffiti will be on display indefinitely, but the government has stressed that this does not mean they condone illegal graffiti.
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