In a country like Japan, where the general population is (more or less) against graffiti style writing and graffiti art, being an artist with a graffiti heritage is no easy task. Unlike in other countries where a “blind eye” is turned when graffiti writers do their thing on the streets, the citizens of Japan (and more so Tokyo), are vigilant when it comes to alerting the authorities that someone is “getting up”. For Hiroshima based artist SUIKO, and his colleagues IMAONE and FATE, the road to creative development has been a bumpy one. As members of the THA crew (Truth in the Huge Area), they have all had their fair share of brushes with the law, both in Japan and overseas. But one thing is certain, all of them have stayed true to their graffiti roots.

Japan opens up to street art

With the continued cultural argumentation of legality and illegality, the path to acceptance of graffiti has been slow. A strategy undertaken by the artists still practicing their craft is to deliver their graffiti messages in the form of a more socially acceptable description, “street art”. You can take the illegality out of the practices of a graffiti writer, but you can’t take the graffiti out of their practice. The results… amazing mural work that embraces art that is accessible by all who see it, but still show respect to its imaginative roots of classic graffiti writing. We look forward to seeing more from SUIKO and the THA crew in the near future.

In a recent project by SUIKO, IMAONE, and FATE, the THA boys transformed a multistory, inner-city apartment building into an eye-catching piece of art. With dominating tones of red, black, blue, and gray, the Montana GOLD cans helped the artists bring the mural to life. A perfect location with the complimentary raised high-speed train line transporting an unsuspecting audience directly passed it, the wall is a symbol not only of creativity shining through in the time of the Coronavirus crisis but also a flag flying proudly showing that graffiti/street-based artists are making a positive change to the environment and mindset of Japanese culture.

All images by the artist and @ueno4to