5 Recommended Street Art Spots in Tokyo That Would Be Great to Post on Social Media
If you love art, you’d probably go to a museum when you go sightseeing in Tokyo, correct? Did you know that artworks can be found not just in museums, but also around the streets of Tokyo? This article will feature street art and wall art pieces that you can appreciate just by strolling through Tokyo. All the spots listed here are near popular sightseeing and shopping areas, so it will be easy to slip these spots into your itinerary.
What Is Street Art?
Street art refers to artworks that you can view on the outer walls of buildings and other public places. You can appreciate art and take pictures while walking around the streets of Tokyo, away from crowds of people. If you stand in front of a mural and snap a photo, you can make it look like a CD jacket. A perfect shot for social media!
Harajuku, Koenji, Jinbocho, and Tokyo—the neighborhoods that'll be featured in this article— are also convenient places for shopping, so try to insert street art appreciation in your Tokyo sightseeing itinerary. Note that while graffiti is also considered street art, all the street art pieces showcased in this article were legally drawn and created.
1. Design Festa Gallery (Harajuku)
Design Festa Gallery in Harajuku is a place where anyone, regardless of nationality, can exhibit their original works of art. There are small to large spaces from the 1st floor to the 3rd floor where you can enter for free and enjoy the art.
Art is not limited to the gallery inside the building, though, as the building itself is art at its finest. The black pipes set against the white walls create an inorganic yet trendy scene. By the way, there's a cafe annexed to the gallery that has trees to make it feel like a hideaway for art lovers. This spot is a fun art space where you can linger while soaking in the art.
Accessories and artworks are also on sale in the gallery, so I definitely want to visit to buy some artsy accessories.
2. bar bonobo (Harajuku)
bar bonobo is an event space and bar in a residential area that is about a 12-minute walk from Harajuku. The walls of the old Japanese-style house that it's housed in—built in 1960—showcase spectacular street art featuring the ghost of a pale-faced geisha. The leaves on the trees in front of this spot seem to hide the face of this geisha, so you might be surprised if you see it at night when the bar is open.
This bar has loud electronic music playing in the background and holds DJ events often. So, if you are looking for some nighttime fun in Tokyo, you should check out this spot.
3. Mural City Project Koenji (Koenji)
Mural City Project Koenji is an initiative that strives to create spots for mural appreciation and then turn them into tourist attractions in Koenji, a place where many artists live. Thanks to this project, you can enjoy artworks that are painted on the walls of buildings in many parts of Koenji.
This photo is the project’s first mural, depicting a woman driving towards the setting sun. Her backward glance is very sexy!
Location: 4-42-4 Koenji-minami, Suginami-ku, Tokyo (parking lot under the elevated railway tracks of JR Koenji Station)
This impressive mural spread across the wall of a six-story building depicts a gigantic eagle in flight! It is a colorful mural that will surely make you feel like taking a photo.
Location: Studio L'aigle (YS Bldg.), 4-26-5 Koenji-minami, Suginami-ku, Tokyo
Apart from the two pieces mentioned earlier, there are many other artworks under the Mural City Project Koenji that are scattered around Koenji, so make sure to take a walk and look for them. Koenji is also packed with many secondhand clothes stores, so I go there often. It is an area that is recommended to those who love fashion, too.
4. Gallery Kawamatsu (Jinbocho)
Gallery Kawamatsu carries art pieces from world-renowned artists such as Picasso and Dali. Below is the artsy mural on the outer wall of this gallery, created using paper stencils. It adds a warm and cute atmosphere to the area. The gallery apparently asked young artists to paint it.
I go for a walk around Jinbocho frequently, doing things such as visiting secondhand bookshops and eating lunch at historic soba (buckwheat noodle) restaurants. What’s fun about Jinbocho is that you will get to discover quaint buildings while you walk. It's also within walking distance from Akihabara, Japan’s famous electric town.
5. Marunouchi Street Gallery (Tokyo)
The last spot on the list is Marunouchi Street Gallery which features a series of art pieces around Tokyo Station that you can see and admire. There are exhibits by famous local and foreign artists, especially along Marunouchi Naka-dori, a street that is known for its beautiful cobblestones.
Examples of art you can appreciate while taking a walk or shopping here include Yayoi Kusama's pumpkin sculpture or Emilio Greco's sculpture. The art piece made by Emilio Greco is located near Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum, a place I often visit, so this spot is also recommended to art lovers. You can see the courtyard with the sculpture from the outward-facing corridor of the museum.
Mitsubishi Ichigokan Museum
Extra: Tokyo Is Also Home to Artistic Toilets
If you really want to marvel at street art in Tokyo, then be sure to stop by some of the city's artistic public toilets!
Shown in the photos below are the Umayabashi public toilets that are located within walking distance from the sightseeing destination of Asakusa. With a striking design characterized by a row of human faces, these do not look like toilets at all when you first see them.
There are artistic public toilets in 17 areas in Shibuya that came from a project that 16 creators active in the international art scene participated in. Some of the toilets are incredibly strange, such as the ones that have see-through walls, making the inside of the toilets visible. Once you lock the door, however, the inside will instantly disappear from view for those outside!
From murals to sculptures and even toilets, a walk through the streets of Tokyo will lead to the discovery of art pieces in unexpected places. Make sure to take a photo with the street art you like best!
*Please note that the information in this article is from the time of writing or publication and may differ from the latest information.
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