Washi Tape Wall ArtWe made it to Tokyo! After a week of apartment hunting, a week of furniture shopping, and a few more weeks after that during which we found the grocery stores, received furniture deliveries, and reestablished a normal daily life routine, we are finally ready to start decorating our apartment!
We are living in a neighborhood called Nishiazabu. We feel like we have the best of both worlds in the sense that we're right in between the expat district (where all restaurants and stores have english speaking employees and menus) and a more traditional neighborhoods where we can experience the culture of Japan. We've been able to get by with (very) minimal Japanese language skills, although we try our best to pick up more phrases each week. Our building is one of the newer buildings in our neighborhood. It was finished late last year and is 30 stories tall. It has a very modern feel inside, with white doors and walls, dark hardwood floors, and floor to ceiling windows in each room. We are the first to occupy our apartment.
In true Japanese form, as I'm told, we're a bit restricted on what we can and can't hang on the walls. Some of our walls have hooks that slide along the ceiling that we can hang pictures and whatnot from. Taggart's room, however doesn't. This means to need to be a little more creative in how I went about decorating his room.
I thought it would be fun to emphasize that we're living abroad in his room. That got me thinking about some sort of map. Japan is such an interesting shape - one that I thought would be a challenge to replicate myself. Then there's the question of the medium - hang a big paper map? Paint one myself? I finally decided on something completely culturally authentic - washi tape! What's more Japanese than washi tape? Plus, washi tape is fun to work with - mainly because it's completely forgiving. It's easy to peal back and redo.
I started by pasting the outline of Japan into an excel document. I spaced the rows and columns evenly and printed the gridlines. This gave me my template which would help me scale my map. Print the document you create and tape it up near where you'll be working.
I then created a matching grid on the wall using string, measuring out the rows and columns with a measuring tape, filling up the space I planned to use. Then it was time to get to work - one square at a time. I am not much of a free hand artist. I shy away from anything that is not clear cut. Thus, for me, thinking of the country in 1x1 inch squares was much more doable, rather than a blank canvas of a wall and a roll of tape. This method worked wonderfully and the project was complete in a matter of hours. The last step was to remove the strings. And...
Voila! Every time Tagg and I are in his room I lift him up to see the map and say "Japan." He'll repeat it after me one of these days.
We plan to travel around the country quite a bit while we're here. As we do I'll mark where we've visited - maybe pin up a picture of a favorite memory in each place. By the end of our time here it will be a documentary of our time in the Japanese Islands.
Washi tape wall art is great for apartment living. I think it'd also be fun in kids rooms. Let your kids be part of the artwork - it's much better to have them "draw" on the walls with washi tape than with markers! You could do the method I described above with any shape you want to tape on to your wall, or just go to it freehand! Make sure to tag us to show us what you come up with!