Graffiti Hunting in Kanagawa
On the edge of a peninsular cliff in Kanagawa lies a curious ruin of which almost nothing is known about. It’s difficult to believe that it was intended to be a barbecue restaurant, but that’s the only theory floating around at this point. What is clear is that the building was never finished, and that in the intervening years a new kind of resident has settled in. Impossible to spot with either Google Maps or Google Earth, I took a chance to venture out and see if this ruin was still standing.
After an uneventful train ride from Tokyo and a pleasant hike through the local town and forest roads I’d reached my destination within a couple of hours. To my relief there was still something to see. This is the view you get after following the path from the street. The metal gates you can see on the left had an entry point, but were resealed to stop the flow of unwanted visitors. Currently, the easiest way in is a simple acrobatic swing around a rusty wire barrier. The only downside: a 20 foot drop into a hole if you mess it up.
This was a test of courage it ever I saw one, but there had to be a smarter way in. Hopping onto the roof I moved over to the far side of the building where I could make out a stairwell. The roof wasn’t particularly overgrown with weeds, but it still made finding its edges difficult. I stopped at the point I thought there was a ledge … one step further and I would’ve taken quite a fall. Proceed with caution if you decide to visit this place.
The only other option was the steep surrounding slopes, with almost nothing to grip on to, and broken glass everywhere. It was a nerve-wracking descent but I managed to stay on my feet and make it to the bottom safely. From that point onward I had a nice open plan ruin to explore, with a great view of the ocean. And best of all no mould, cobwebs or stink to deal with.
I had fairly low expectations for the graffiti, but I was more than pleasantly surprised. Almost every inch of the place was covered with spray paint. I recognised a few writers straight away, KANE, KRESS, Shizentomotel. This wall (above) reminded me of Titi Freak but I couldn’t find the tag of the actual artist. KANE was both the most prolific and the most painted-over artist. It was interesting to see how his skills have progressed, from some fairly embarrassing early work to some of the best wall pieces (below).
The bottom floor housed some of the coolest work. Most recently, French graffiti artist Kazyus Cley painted over an entire wall to put up this Picassoesque piece. Looking at other blogs from several years ago it’s surprising to see just how many walls have changed. It seems that regardless of how good a piece is, it can only expect to be given a few years before it’s replaced.
The artists in residence brought in numerous items for their own entertainment (including a stereo, seats and a trampoline) which inevitably got covered in paint as well. Apart from an abundance of stools there was nothing which gave a clue to the building’s history. A residence or a cram school seems just as likely as a 3-floor restaurant.
The most impressive mural was probably this Princess Mononoke-inspired piece by Shizentomotel (しぜんともってる). I’d never seen a police patrol sticker on a ruin before, but I found my first one as I was leaving. It looks like they paid the ruin a visit just the previous day. It might actually have acted as a deterrent if I’d noticed it earlier.
I took a different route through the forest to make my way back to civilisation. Not a bad view I’m sure you’ll agree.