The Project

The Japantown Mural Project is a celebration of the vibrancy of San Jose's historic Japantown neighborhood through artworks by 50 local artists. The environment is a barren, undeveloped plot of land that once served as the City of San Jose's Maintenance Yard. Chain-link fencing is now covered with more than 60 large mesh panels of color. It stretches a quarter of a city block along 6th and Jackson Streets in the heart of Japantown.

The subject matter is highly interpretive, including personal and commissioned works, and encompasses a wide variety of mediums and aesthetics. It also includes references to the site's former life; 100 years ago, it was one of San Jose's very first Chinatown settlements known as 'Heinlenville.' A majority of the artists maintain art studios in Japantown, have displayed their artwork in neighborhood galleries, or consider this wonderful place their home.

The Japantown Mural Project is truly representative of its own unique community and will be enjoyed and appreciated for years to come.



by Samuel Rodriguez

Samuel Rodriguez

The first time Shortyfatz made a debut was in 2002, it was the name for the main character in my own barrio funny pages. It was a way for me to give a voice to my characters from prior graffiti excursions. I used to pass the comics around on xerox copies at lowrider car shows and flea markets around the Bay Area. Eventually I slowed down with these comics and found work in corporate design studios. Those were good opportunities and learning experiences, but limited my creative potential. So I decided to go out on my own.

Today Shortyfatz has since become the name and brand of my independent design studio, where I work on Public Art, Design Collaborations, and Personal Art. My specialty is in custom lettering, and illustration. Im fortunate to say that I work on various types of projects, with several different stakeholders. For instance, in Public Art, collaborators involve architects, governments, fabricators, other designers and entire communities. On the other hand in design, the amount of clients and collaborators is much smaller and intimate which is a nice break from Public Art. Then there is my Personal work which keeps me balanced and helps me to get better at my overall crafts. So things definitely don't become boring!

My favorite part of the process on any given task is problem solving and sketching concepts on graph paper. This is the part of working where learning, and keeping an open mind is the most essential for creating new styles, solutions, and possibilities. I am really happy to say that each project, and or collaborator I work with, large or small has its own story, and comes with a special set of unique ingredients. I enjoy the art of figuring out what those ingredients are, and cooking them up in the best way possible.

Sponsored By

Japantown Community Congress of San Jose · Office of the Consulate General of Japan · Wesley United Methodist Church
Jack's Bar & Lounge · Dr. Stephani Nguyen of Japantown Dental · Kay's Shiseido · Dr. Jerrold Hiura & Lucia Cha

Contemporary Asian Theater Scene · Japantown Neighborhood Association · Union Bank of California · Chris & Minako Tsuji

Japanese American Museum of San Jose · Yu Ai Kai Senior Center · Banana Crepe · Halcrow Partners · Pan Pacific Bank · Alex Alsorady & Darcie Kiyan
Sophie Horiuchi Forrester · Helen Hayashi · Roy & PJ Hirabayashi · Aggie Idemoto · Reiko Iwanaga · Jeanne Katsuro · Tamon Norimoto · Kristin Okimoto
Jeffrey Oldham · John Ristow · Rev. Gerald & Kathy Sakamoto · Victoria Taketa · Leah Toeniskoetter · Joe Yasutake

With Thanks

Japantown Community Congress of San Jose · The City of San Jose Arts Commission · Dr. Jerrold Hiura · The Rast Family
Corinne Okada Takara · Ruth Tunstall-Grant · Cherri Lakey · DJ Ashford
Empire Seven Studios · The Arsenal · Sign-a-Rama of Downtown San Jose

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