Our friends at Highsnobiety checked out the Pow! Wow! street art festival in Tokyo and caught up with its organizer, Emily Okamoto. Although murals in Japan tend to get painted over straight away, the festival transformed the city into a riot of colors to rival the cherry blossom season.

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Calling Tokyo just a city or metropolis might be trivializing it a bit: Tokyo is not only one of the world’s 30 megacities, but actually the biggest of them all, when you include the Yokohama region, home to more than 37 million inhabitants.

Among such a huge urban sprawl, you really have to hustle hard. Relief and redemption can be found in the small things: green spaces, good transport, and public art for the street.

In a place like Tokyo, where space is at a premium, everyday traffic rages. It’s a city where, as Pow! Wow! Japan’s head Emily Okamoto reveals, traditionally even the smallest sidewalk scribble gets removed in an instant.

pow! wow! tokyo street art crane
pow! wow! tokyo street art cans
pow! wow! tokyo street art colors
pow! wow! tokyo street art grey girl
pow! wow! tokyo street art seaworld
pow! wow! tokyo street art warrior
pow! wow! tokyo street art spraying

Pow! Wow! wants to change Japan’s view of street art

One group that is trying to change this negative perception is the global art collective Pow! Wow! We joined Highsnobiety on a visit of Pow! Wow!’s Japan chapter to find out more about their approach – an approach that challenges the way Tokyo’s rather conservative citizens perceive mural culture and street art.

“We want those people to know that street art is not a damage to property, but an enrichment of the city,” says Emily. And it is hard not to be swayed by her mission when you glimpse all the great colorful façades, towering over highways and framing monochrome blocks, where internationally acclaimed street artists wielded their magic.

It goes without saying that Highsnobiety opted for one of the swiftest, most comfortable, and distinctive ways to travel the Japanese capital in style: the new smart fortwo, which recently made its debut in Japan.

pow! wow! tokyo smart fortwo
pow! wow! tokyo street art sumo highway
pow! wow! tokyo street art smartfortwo backside
pow! wow! tokyo street art by night
pow! wow! tokyo street art smart fortwo backlights

All the images, incl. the header image: Highsnobiety