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Shinjuku’s Golden Gai attempts to cope with surge in graffiti

Golden Gai
Two persons were caught on camera spraying graffiti in the historic Golden Gai district last week (TV Asahi)

TOKYO (TR) – Two persons were caught on camera spraying graffiti in the historic Golden Gai district in Shinjuku Ward last week, the latest such incident in what is a worsening problem for bar owners.

In footage obtained by TV Asahi (Oct. 17), the two persons are seen in an alley in the district, which includes narrow rows of approximately 300 bars and eateries, at around 1:00 a.m. on October 11.

One of them then pulls a spray can from a bag from retailer Tokyu Hands and begins to paint green lettering on the wall and window of a building. A bystander appears to say something to the pair but the vandalism continues.

Graffiti was also found sprayed at two other locations in the district. In one of those cases, a bar owner was seen yelling at the perpetrators, who fled the scene separately.

Started five years ago

Nao Wadayama, a representative of the Shinjuku Sanko Shopkeepers Promotion Union, said the spraying of graffiti in the district started about five years ago but only became noticeable recently.

“There has been an increase in visitors, not just only Japanese but also people from overseas,” said Wadayama. “But when I see something like this, I feel that it is unfortunate.”

Over the summer, signs indicating that the spraying of graffiti is prohibited were posted in the district. However, the initiative has not stemmed the number of incidents.

Tokyo Metropolitan Police have been consulted about the incidents in the past. The bars victimized in the last cases are considering similar action.