Celebrating Sister City ties, latest downtown Edmonds mural takes flight

Artist Shogo Ota at work on the new mural, located on 4th Avenue in downtown Edmonds. (Photo courtesy Mural Project Edmonds)

If you are in the area of 4th Ave North this week, you’ll see muralist Shogo Ota in action as he installs Mural Project Edmonds’ latest mural. This mural, reminiscent of the Japanese woodblock prints that are a unique Japanese art form, recognizes the special relationship between Edmonds and its Sister City Hekinan, Japan.

For this project, Mural Project Edmonds (MPE) has partnered with Urban Artworks, a Seattle nonprofit that creates public art by embracing the creativity and diversity of the community and has a deep commitment to cultural and racial equity. Through Urban Artworks, MPE has procured the talented Ota, a Japanese muralist, to create the mural.

The mural will be located on blank wall space between Salt & Iron and ChurchKey Pub.

“We originally came to the table wanting a mural of waves similar to the image of Katsushika Hokusai’s The Great Wave off Kanagawa,” said MPE chair Denise Cole. “It was Shogo who told us that an image of a large wave might be trigger memories of the 2011 tsunami waves that devastated many Japanese coastal areas, most notably in the Tōhoku region.”

The new mural will include waves, but the focal point will be a large heron, thus tying Edmonds into the Japanese imagery.

Edmonds and the city of Hekinan, Japan established a relationship on April 5, 1988 with the goal of fostering exchanges that reflect an intercultural focus between business, education and nonprofit organizations. The Sister City Commission has sent and hosted student exchange delegations, adult exchange delegations, and an assistant language teacher.

The goal of this mural was to not only recognize Edmonds’ Sister City of Hekinan, but to also bring attention to Asian American diversity and the history of Japanese Americans in the Pacific Northwest, Mural Project Edmonds said in an announcement.

Japanese immigrants first started arriving in the Pacific Northwest in the 19th century to fill the demand for labor industries such as railroads, mining, timber and fisheries. However, World War II spawned a rise in anti-Japanese sentiment, and many Japanese Americans were forcibly relocated to assembly centers. After the war, many returned to their homes, but official reparations were not provided until 1988. (Read more about the history here.)

Along with the creation of this mural, an ambitious augmented reality project will also be created later this year. Thanks to Workshop 3D, those with a smart phone will be able to see “live” interviews with the muralist and others which can be accessed through a QR code placed at the site of the mural. Learn more about this project here.

The mural is made possible this year due to grant from City of Edmonds Arts Commission as well as a donation from the McMurray family.

Mural Project Edmonds, a committee of Art Walk Edmonds, has been responsible for new murals in downtown Edmonds for the past few years. The overall goal is to bring professional-level, well-planned artistry to the community and to fit appropriately into the chosen space.

MPE has its sights set on next year’s mural project: a tribute to all the essential workers. Preliminary plans for this mural are underway. Anyone interested in donating to the Art Walk Edmonds can do so online at www.artwalkedmonds.com/donate. Companies or entities interested in sponsoring a new mural should contact Art Walk Edmonds at info@artwalkedmonds.com.

  1. the murals are a delightful attraction … what happened to the mural donation fund? Murals with Edmonds city flower .. dahlia .. would be great!! Five Corners needs some artwork. How can Edmonds citizens help?

  2. Hi Christine;

    The old Edmonds Mural Society went defunct years ago. Mural Project Edmonds (MPE), a committee of Art Walk Edmonds, picked up where they left off, with the overall goal to bring professional-level, well-planned artistry to the community and to fit appropriately into the chosen space. MPE is always open to new ideas and spaces for murals — just email us at info@artwalkedmonds.com. As far as donating, the link is at the end of the article (www.artwalkedmonds.com/donate). Just make a notation that you want your donation to go towards murals in the “special notes” field.

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