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Yokocho Poster Series
'Yokocho': A hidden alleyway off the side of a main street.
I've illustrated and designed a 3 part poster series that are now available to buy as prints in my shop.
These posters were created as a homage to the distinctively atmospheric side streets and alleyways that are found in areas like Shinjuku in Tokyo. These unique areas which are called 'Yokocho' are popular night time spots for where people congregate to eat, drink and wind down underneath neon signs, air vents, AC units, rusted corrugated iron, glowing lanterns and a web of electricity wires that seem to hold these ramshackle establishments together. Yokocho have always been very inspiring and exciting places for me when visiting Japan.
Areas like 'Omoide Yokocho' (‘Memory Lane’) or The Golden Gai feature tiny bars and food stalls which will usually only accommodate a handful of people at a time. Untouched since the 1940/50s they unashamedly embrace the grime, clutter and chaos that creates a surprisingly hospitable and friendly atmosphere, albeit slightly dystopian (if you've seen 'Blade Runner' you'll know what I mean). They're a far cry from the minimalism and cleanliness we have come to expect from Japan's architectural spaces, and along with the distinctive smells of Japanese cuisine it creates a seductive space that lures you away from the slick modernisation heavily featured on the main streets.
I'd read recently that these spaces are becoming increasingly vulnerable to housing developers who want them removed. This would be a huge shame as I think they're an essential and valuable part of Tokyo's culture. However, due to the nature of the wooden structures and chaotic infrastructure, these areas have become unsafe due to fires, even the locals are now saying that maybe it is time to move on and modernise. Maybe they're right. Their future seems ominous nonetheless. I'm just very glad I managed to see them in all their cluttered glory. Hopefully, at some point in the future I'll be able to squeeze in another visit before they've gone forever.
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