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CHILL ART: Painting over a pandemic in Shibuya, Tokyo

CHILL ART: Painting over a pandemic in Shibuya, Tokyo

Shutter towns

Like much of the rest of the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced a slew of new words into the Japanese lexicon. From on-nomi (オン飲み online drinking gatherings) and san-mitsu (3密 Avoiding the Three C's— namely closed spaces, crowded places, and close-contact settings) to sōsharu disutanshingu (ソーシャル・ディスタンシング social distancing) and more, these terms signify the many ways our lives have been upended over the past year and counting. Another word that has crept into Japan’s headlines during these many months of economic stagnation is shutter-gai (シャッター街 shutter towns), which refers to the phenomenon of whole blocks of businesses shuttering their shops in accordance with the country’s emergency declarations and associated financial tension.


From hardship, innovation

VIVA LA MORT mural. (Image credit: WALL SHARE)


The economic impact the pandemic and Japan’s emergency declarations have had on entire neighbourhoods is significant, transforming large areas into ghost towns and forcing many proprietors to close their establishments indefinitely. Many citizens, however, have not been content to stand by and watch as the communities they love suffer. One such group of innovators has decided to use the very shutters of closed businesses as tapestries for breathing new life into the struggling towns around them.



GRINDPENCIL mural. (Image credit: WALL SHARE)


The Osaka-based urban art collective WALL SHARE has joined forces with the relaxation beverage brand CHILL OUT in a community support initiative to help struggling businesses cope with the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the name CHILL ART, these two organisations will focus on providing funds, in the form of rent, to various shops in the Shibuya (渋谷) area by transforming the shops’ closed shutters into urban masterpieces. Businesses that have been forced to close due to the coronavirus can apply to have their shutters decorated in dazzling works of art, while receiving a rental fee for loaning out their shutters in the process. 


Building back better

MIZYURO mural. (Image credit: WALL SHARE)


In addition to the rental fee, each successful applicant will receive 10 cases of the relaxation drink CHILL OUT. They will also be able to promote and raise awareness for their brand and business thanks to the accompanying press and social media posts surrounding the CHILL ART event. All of this will combine to help these communities rebuild from the pandemic, while adding a touch of vibrance and excitement to the everyday lives of their residents. With CHILL ART, people now have the chance to paint a bright new chapter in their battle with the COVID-19 pandemic.


Who can apply

BAKIBAKI mural. (Image credit: WALL SHARE)


Between 1–17 February, businesses with shutters of any size in the Shibuya area can apply to have their shutters painted. The actual painting will take place over a period of 3–5days in March 2021. Successful applicants must leave the murals on display for at least three months following completion.


Location: Various businesses in the Shibuya area
Nearest station: Shibuya Station (渋谷駅)
Period: March 2021


Header image credit: WALL SHARE


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