Little Tokyo Utility Box

2015 | JACCC, Sustainable Little Tokyo

Role(s): Illustrator, painter

Project Type: Illustration, mural, street art

Client Type: Non-profit, cultural organization

The Little Tokyo Utility Box project is a collaboration between the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center (JACCC), the Sustainable Little Tokyo and the office of Council member Jose Huizar. Its purpose is to promote sustainable neighborhood revitalization and cultural preservation, with a focus on preserving Little Tokyo's unique cultural heritage.

I was chosen as one of the 10 artists to design the boxes.

Research and Development


My design displays people dancing bon-odori and the stories represented from these fun dances.

Obon is a traditional Japanese Buddhist festival that honors ancestors and celebrates life. Festival attendees come together in the summer evening to eat vendor food and dance using hand motions, fans, castanets (kachi-kachi) and Japanese dancing towels. These repetitive dances celebrate everyday life, nature, and ancestors.

As a Japanese-American, I believe obon is an important tradition that brings people together from various communities. It transcends generations, races, ethnic groups, and religions. The dances are simple and anyone can participate, regardless of their dance background.

San Jose Obon Festival 2009 1.1

Final Product

The imagery coming out from the fan depict obon dances:

The image of gravestones in the background represent how people dance to thank our ancestors and honor those who have passed away. During this time, it's customary to go to the cemetary to pay our respects to our ancestors.

Initially, I painted the utility box, but encountered setbacks due to communication issues. I was not informed that the box would be replaced in a few months. Instead of repainting, I printed my design which wrapped around the box for another few months.

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