While the graffiti scene in Asia has been a relatively new import from the west, it’s been a well established subculture in Tokyo ever since it made its way to Japan in the late-1980s. Growing to include more than just graffiti bombed on random rooftops, street art of all types have found homes in many corners of Tokyo, with some of the world’s most respected artists contributing to the ever-growing scene.
Riffing on this rich history of Tokyo street art, DC Shoes linked up with legendary street artist Dave “Persue” Ross to present his “WET PAINT” show in Tokyo last week. Persue’s signature practice of utilizing “WET PAINT” signs found exclusively in the New York City subway system is the foundation for the show’s concept and builds on the idea of using those signs as a blank canvas. If you’re in the area, “WET PAINT” will be on exhibit at Basement GINZA in Tokyo until March 31.
We linked up with graffiti artist and Tokyo hip-hop OG Yas5 to show us the coolest pieces around the city and what you need to know about them. Yas5 is Persue’s local Tokyo connection and collaborator for the WET PAINT art show—here’s his guide to Tokyo street art.
Location: FTC Tokyo
Address: 5 Chome-28-7 Jingūmae, Shibuya City, Tōkyō-to 150-0001, Japan
About: Lushsux is a street artist known for his large, internet meme-themed murals. He often blends 2 or more popular memes together into a satirical painting, as seen here with Nico Nico Ni and Tekashi 6ix9ine. The mural is located at FTC Tokyo and created for the Lushsux x FTC capsule collection release.
Name: Astro Boy
Location: JR Rail near Tower Records Music, Shibuya
Address: 1 Chome-11-1 Jinnan, Shibuya City, Tōkyō-to 150-0041
About: Invader places Astro Boy or Mighty Atom (original Japanese name) amongst the character’s home country. The manga character and robot hero created by Osamu Tezuka can be found in Invader’s signature mosaic style on the bridge leading to Harajuku/Omote-sando area right after you pass Tower Records music, Shibuya.
Artist: Alex Face
Location: Design Festa Gallery West
Address: 3 Chome-20-18 Jingūmae, Shibuya City, Tōkyō-to 150-0001, Japan
About: Patcharapol Tangruen, otherwise known by his street moniker “Alex Face,” is a globally recognized and influential graffiti artist hailing from Thailand. Alex Face’s signature motifs are baby-esqe characters inspired by the birth of his daughter.
Artist: Shinya Nishikata
Location: Sakura Tei Restaurant
Address: 3 Chome-20-1 Jingūmae, Shibuya City, Tōkyō-to 150-0001, Japan
About: Japanese artist Shinya Nishikata’s work is characterized by vibrant, neon animations of contorted figures resembling exaggerated comic book characters. This signature style is used to convey the crazy nature of everyday life, like the mural here depicting a chef hard at work behind the grill.
Location: Located inside Paradise Tokyo / Wacko Maria boutique clothing store and coffee shop
Address: 2 Chome-3-2 Higashiyama, Meguro-ku, Tōkyō-to 153-0043, Japan
About: Located inside Paradise Tokyo /Wacko Maria clothing boutique and coffee shop, the piece features Neckface’s signature bat figures and welded masks. The piece was created for the launch of Neckface’s collection with Wacko along with the store’s 3rd anniversary.
Artist: Lauren YS
Name: Harajuku Zombie
Location: Bonobo Nightclub, Harajuku
Address: 2 Chome-23-4 Jingūmae, Shibuya City, Tōkyō-to 150-0001, Japan
About: Lauren’s work aims to create and populate a misfit wonderland in which imaginary heroines can address the absurdities of reality in the confines of a page or a wall. Influenced by dreams, mythology, death, comics, love, sex, psychedelia, animation, nostalgia, and her Asian-American heritage, Lauren’s work is often geared towards pushing a narrative undertone and always has a fantastical aesthetic.
Name: The Shamisen
Location: Warehouse TERRADA, Shinagawa
Address: 2 Chome-6-10 Higashishinagawa, Shinagawa City, Tokyo 140-0002, Japan
About: Aryz creates stunning, intricately detailed works using spray paint and paint roller. He is known for his large character murals. “The Shamisen” is his first mural in Japan. It was created in as part of the Tennoz Art Festival 2019 and sits in a popular arts district of Shinagawa.
- Photographer: Nicolas "Yuthanan" Chalmeau