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Public art installation by artist Rea Tajiri ‘activates’ history of Japanese immigration to Philadelphia

June 4, 2018

Some of you have probably noticed blue bikes popping up in the last month at several locations in West Philly. They are actually a part of a multisite public art installation by Japanese American filmmaker and visual artist Rea Tajiri. Titled “WATARIDORI: birds of passage,” the project is part of the Asian Arts Initiative’s 25th anniversary celebration and “activates real and speculative histories” of Japanese immigrants in Philadelphia.

Check out this art installation at the front of the house at 4238 Spruce Street:

Art installation by Japanese American artist Rea Tajiri at 43rd & Spruce.

A post shared by West Philly Local (@westphillylocal) on

Other locations for Rea Tajiri’s public art installation include: 

• The Woodlands Cemetery, 40th and Woodland, where some of the remains of the prominent Japanese statesman politician and author Tatsui Baba (1850-1888) are interred (his grave is surrounded by bamboo).

• Creese Courtyard (3220 Chestnut St.) – next door to the original site of the Philadelphia Hostel at 3228 Chestnut which provided temporary housing for Japanese Americans being released from U.S. concentrations camps during World War II.

• Rising Sun Night Market (aka Spiral Q storefront), 3808 Lancaster Ave. It was rumored that a Japanese American shopkeeper ran a store on Lancaster Avenue.

By the way, the house at 4238 Spruce Street is where the Philadelphia Hostel moved in late 1950’s. Bamboo from Tatsui Baba’s Woodland gravesite is also transplanted there.

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