Roppongi Crossing
Roppongi Crossing

Roppongi’s Designer’s Flag Contest transforms Tokyo’s infamous late night entertainment district into a place of art and design

Roppongi, one of the most popular entertainment and business districts in Tokyo, has an even more famous and high-class background that a lot of Tokyo locals have admired. During the Meiji period, this area housed the mansions of nobles and relatives to the imperial family. Nowadays, Roppongi has a diversified lively nightlife and is in the process of reinventing itself as a hub of art and design.

At the dawn of the Edo Period during the 17th century, the area that would become Roppongi began humbly with the building of four temples on a vacant plot of land. After the temples were constructed, Daimyo, Japanese feudal lords, from the ruling Tokugawa Shogunate, the last Japanese feudal military government, raised their estates on the land. The remnants of these temples and elaborate estates can still be seen in parks quietly tucked behind the hustle and bustle of large streets intersecting throughout Roppongi. At the end of WWII, the area became home for the Allied Forces’ bases, and later came embassies. With a large number of foreign nationals residing in the area, Roppongi’s international community grew quickly. In recent years, the building of famous art museums and galleries, such as The National Art Center, Tokyo, has attracted many interested in design and the arts to Roppongi.

When visiting Roppongi, as you enjoy its fine art museums and galleries, be sure to spend time exploring the sights and sounds of its streets and see firsthand how creative festivals and events are reshaping this iconic area.One such event is the annual “Roppongi Designer’s Flag Contest”. Flags of various designs are hung from 135 lampposts lining the five streets that come together at Roppongi’s large intersection.

The contest accepts submissions from residents of Japan. Judges KASAI Kaoru, HIROMURA Masaaki and SHIBATA Fumie, are the top three Japanese designers who have ties to Roppongi. They select designs based solely on the appeal of the artwork as contestants’ information, such as professional experience, age and gender, is not provided to the judges. This policy allows the chance for artwork by anyone, from elementary school students to even foreign nationals, to be chosen for display. This contest has been held for over ten years, letting creativity from professional and nonprofessionals help re-imagine Roppongi as a place of late night entertainment to a place of art and design. In 2019, from the end of March throughout April, flags will decorate the streets of Roppongi, making it the perfect time to visit this popular international area of Tokyo.

Roppongi Shopping Street Association

2018 ROPPONGI DESIGNER’S FLAG CONTEST 2018’s Award-winning Works