MPE’s 2021 mural celebrates Edmonds’ ties with Sister City, Hekinan, Japan

Saturday, September 11, 2021

Mural by Shogo Ota was photographed by Lee Lageschulte

Anyone near 4th Ave N in Edmonds this last week had the privilege of seeing muralist Shogo Ota in action as he installed Mural Project Edmonds’ (MPE’s) latest mural.

This mural, reminiscent of the Japanese woodblock prints that are a unique Japanese art form, is in recognition of the special relationship between Edmonds and her Sister City - Hekinan, Japan.

For this project, MPE partnered with Urban Artworks, a Seattle nonprofit that creates public art by embracing the creativity and diversity of the community and has a deep commitment to cultural and racial equity. 

Through Urban Artworks, MPE has procured the talented Shogo Ota, a Japanese muralist, to create the mural. It was through Shogo’s unparalleled creativity and knowledge of the Japanese culture that the mural was designed.

“We originally came to the table wanting a mural of waves similar to the image of Katsushika Hokusai's The Great Wave off Kanagawa,” said MPE chair Denise Cole. “It was Shogo who told us that an image of a large wave might be trigger memories of the 2011 tsunami waves that devastated many Japanese coastal areas, most notably in the Tōhoku region.”

The new mural will include waves, but the focal point will be a large heron, thus tying Edmonds into the Japanese imagery.

Edmonds and the city of Hekinan, Japan established a relationship on April 5, 1988 with the goal of fostering exchanges that reflect our intercultural focus between business, education and nonprofit organizations in the local area. 

The Sister City Commission has sent and hosted student exchange delegations, adult exchange delegations, and an Assistant Language Teacher.

Muralist Shogo Ota at work. Photo courtesy MPE

The goal of this mural was to not only recognize Edmonds’ Sister City of Hekinan, but to also bring attention to Asian American diversity and the history of Japanese Americans in the Pacific Northwest.

Japanese immigrants first started arriving in the PNW in the 19th century to fill the demand for labor industries such as railroads, mining, timber and fisheries. 

However, World War II spawned a rise in anti-Japanese sentiment, and many Japanese Americans were forcibly relocated to assembly centers. After the war, many returned to their homes, but official reparations were not provided until 1988. (Read more about the history here.)

Along with the creation of this mural, an ambitious augmented reality project will also be created later this year. Thanks to Workshop 3D, those with a smartphone will be able to see “live” interviews with the muralist and others which can be accessed through a QR code placed at the site of the mural. 

Learn more about this project here.

The mural is made possible this year due to grant from City of Edmonds Arts Commission as well as a donation from the McMurray family.

Mural Project Edmonds (MPE), a committee of Art Walk Edmonds, has been responsible for new murals in downtown Edmonds for the past few years. The overall goal of the new MPE is to bring professional-level, well-planned artistry to our community and to fit appropriately into the chosen space.

MPE has its sights set on next year’s mural project: a tribute to all the essential workers. Preliminary plans for this mural are underway. Anyone interested in donating to the Art Walk Edmonds can do so online at

Read more about Japanese immigrants in the PNW at and HERE 


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