'Astro Boy Mosaic' – Tokyo, Japan - Atlas Obscura
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'Astro Boy Mosaic'

Japan's iconic sci-fi hero rendered to 8-bit by notorious French street artist Invader. 

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Japan is often intolerant of vandalism, making it a harsh environment for street art to survive. Although some graffiti can be found in alleys across Tokyo, more or less, those that stand out are quickly removed by the authorities. Even works by world-famous artists such as Banksy and Invader are no exception, but one piece has evaded removal for years, almost miraculously.

A French urban artist known for his 8-bit style, Invader has installed his street art across the world over the years, from pieces in Paris, to a few that can be found in San Diego. He visited Tokyo in 2014, installing several works of art, although only a few have survived.

One of them depicts Astro Boy, or Atom as he is known in Japan, an android superhero character originally created by legendary manga artist Osamu Tezuka. Boosted by his rocket feet, he can be seen soaring over unknowing pedestrians in the ever-popular Shibuya district, all done in Invader’s distinctive 8-bit technique.

Unlike the popular mural in the Takadanobaba district, this piece is unsanctioned by Tezuka Productions. However, it seems to have caught the company’s recognition to some degree as it was featured on its official blog in 2019. It’s uncertain how much longer the graffiti will remain, but one can only hope that it stays there as a little icon of the city.

Know Before You Go

To find the piece, head to Tower Records from Shibuya Station and turn right; it should be located right above the pedestrian tunnel.

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