Taiken Japan

Autumn Leaves 2016

Nakano: Looking for Street Art

Photo: Seb on Flickr

Nakano: Looking for Street Art


If you live or have been to any other megapolis – Paris, New York, etc – you know what the street art is. And if you actually live in Tokyo, you might never imagine anything besides the stickers and graffiti. Giant spray paintings? Probably not. Now, that does not mean that stickers and such are not a street art with message and voice. We all know about the Tokyo Banksy.

Of course, there are also traces of the Space Invader here and there.


Yet the laws prohibiting such art and some recent precedents make the very idea quite daunting.

But somehow I still have this hope deep in my heart to see some murals and paintings out there, in the street. I know this might sound as some kind of utopia. But the city lives and develops, so why not. I’ve read and been advised to look for the street art under the bridges and less noticeable areas, primary near the railways. So that brought me to Nakano.

The special ward in Tokyo Nakano is just 5 minutes away from Shinjuku on a Chuo line. Mostly famous for all kinds of manga/anime related merchandise and collectibles, the area is less packed and noisy unlike the electric town in Akihabara. Just stroll down the Nakano Broadway from the train station and you can see all kinds of shops from clothing to figures. One thing very peculiar about Tokyo is no matter where you go, there is always a shop/shopping area selling shoes (and socks right next to it). Usually those are less fancy, but more casual shoes comfortable for long walks.


Photo: Toshihiro Gamo on Flickr
Nakano Broadway itself is a four-floor building where you can find absolutely anything related to that cartoon or movie character you like, even the toys back from your childhood. Air is filled with that typical smoke and dust that accompany any loft or storage room filled with old stuff. There are also some interesting decorations inside (be careful, there are small signs on the walls prohibiting picture-taking). Some of them are quite creepy looking, such as the huge statue of Alien. Shop staff are quite friendly and don’t be surprised if you are greeted in English.

Returning back to the street art, Nakano has a few graffiti that stand out and the suitable environment. These darts are quite repetitive in other locations as well.


However, you might want to return back to the station and stroll along the rail routes. There are plenty of pieces, bit simple but still colourful and artistic on their own. Most of them were made by the art school students. Then of course some random strangers put a sticker or two, wrote few words – and now the art objects belong to public.



I might not be convinced these are my kinds of street art, but they do have a theme and blend in the environment. After all, art is a very subjective thing to talk about. Tell me if you find something interesting during your journey ;)