JAPIA-ONOC friendship mural celebrates shared ocean and continuing cooperation for sport and society

August 10, 2021
TOKYO 2020
Fiji athletes Reapi Uluinasau (L) and Banuve Tabakaucoro (R) flank Nauru's Jonah Harris (C) in front of the Takeshiba mural in Tokyo's waterfront. | Photo: Inoke Bainimarama

Three athletes from Oceania visited a quiet, rather deserted Takeshiba Jetty in yesterday’s warm windy Tokyo day in acknowledgement of a mural celebrating friendship and cooperation through sport.

TOKYO, 10 AUGUST 2021

Reapi Uluinasau (Sevens Rugby, FIJ), Jonah Harris (Athletics, NRU) and Banuve Tabakaucoro (Athletics, FIJ) participated in a cultural visit to acknowledge the generosity of the Japan Pacific Islands Association (JAPIA) and the people of Japan to Oceania.

Fiji athletes Reapi Uluinasau (L) and Banuve Tabakaucoro (R) flank Nauru's Jonah Harris (C) in front of the Takeshiba mural in Tokyo's waterfront. | Photo: Inoke Bainimarama

The partnership for sport and culture

The mural is part of the shared PacificRoots Project by JAPIA in consultation with ONOC and commissioned Japanese artist Kensuke Takahasi, well known for his street art and other public art pieces in Japan.

It is the crystallised response to the current Tokyo COVID-19 pandemic state of emergency that led to the downsizing and then changing of what was initially supposed to be an Oceania Village on the waterfront of the Japanese capital. 

The ‘Light garden with dolphins’ mural showing a shared oceanic heritage

The JAPIA-ONOC partnership created a Oceania Village Executive Committee to oversee the original project, then the crystallised response through the ocean-themed mural and ‘Light garden with dolphins’. 

The Oceania Village Executive Committee Co-Chairman Nobuharu Nozaki said, “A new type of coronavirus that has become a global pandemic. It has had an overwhelming impact on our daily lives, and politics, economy and industry, and people's lives have entered a period of great change.

“A physical distance is created between people, and in some cases a mental distance is also created. We sometimes close our borders to protect our country.”

He added that, “However, even if we close our borders, Japan and islands nations must not close our country-to-country, person-to-person fellowship. 

“This is because Japan and the island nations should build a peaceful future together, the Pacific Family, a Pacific family connected by the sea. We have hope for the future.

“Our mission is to connect the Pacific Ocean through art and convey hope to the world.

“Even if we can‘t hold an event where people gather, we want to believe in the power of art that connects people. That is our ambition.”

Japanese mural artist Kensuke Takahashi at work on the mural at the Takeshiba Passenger Terminal Building in Tokyo. The work was completed on 23 July, a day before the opening of the Tokyo Olympic Games.

The original Oceania Village concept

In the original project, the Oceania Village was to have been a cultural hive of the diverse islands of the Pacific and it was anticipated that more than 15,000 people per day would visit the site. 

The cultural exhibition space was to host demonstration sports, tourism presentations, food, crafts, cultural dance, music and art performances, and interactive social media activations.

ONOC grateful for friendship and hopes for continued cooperation

ONOC President Robin Mitchell said, “ONOC is very grateful for friendship and cooperation with JAPIA and the people of Japan. The people of Oceania and the Pacific Islands value culture and tradition. Through sport we seek friendship, cooperation and harmony in society.”

He added, “The Takeshiba mural is a symbol of our friendship. To show the Ocean cultures and nature in its beauty is a testament to our relationship as we share the same Pacific Ocean. 

“ONOC and Pacific islands people are grateful to the people of Japan for the friendship that has helped our athletes over the years. We hope to build this friendship further.”

The function of public art 

Public art is usually created to challenge, move, or inspire curiosity and seeking of beauty and continuity - harmony in nature and life. 

The mural featured in the Takeshiba ‘Light garden with dolphins’ is testament to a friendship between ONOC and JAPIA that has transcended the challenges of the pandemic to demonstrate hope and continued communication of shared values of life, harmony and intention to build stronger together. 

The location of the mural in a public space like the Takeshiba Passenger Terminal Building at the waterfront on the crook of a peninsula is ideal for sea-going visitors and locals.

An ideal exhibition space for a valued friendship

The Takeshiba Terminal serves the hoards of local and foreign visitors who use the jetty as a launching pad into the Tokyo Islands (Izu Islands), nine pristine islands within a two-hour travel time from Takeshiba. The nine islands are a hot spot for visitors and feature nature and its marine and terrestrial biodiversity only a stone’s throw away from the skyscrapers of Tokyo. 

To know more about the Tokyo islands, please click here 

Kensuke Takahashi - the mural artist

The artist commissioned by the joint project was Kensuke Takahashi who creates art for in-store murals, mainly large murals, providing artwork to companies and governments. 

To find out more about the artist, please click here

Background information

The Takeshiba mural is a product of the ONOC-JAPIA partnership and it was organised by an internally appointed Oceania Village Executive Committee.

It is a special cooperation between ONOC, JAPIA and PacificRoots. It was a cooperation involving the Tokyo Organizing Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games and the Tokyo Harbor Wharf / Teleport Center Group.

It was supported by the Pacific Islands Centre (PIC); the embassies of the Republic of Palau, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Kingdom of Tonga, Australia, Republic of Marshall Islands; the Rainbownesia  General Incorporated Association; the Japan Kiribati Association, Nauru Tourism Board; and the Honorary Consulates of the Solomon Islands and Tuvalu.


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About ONOC 
Established in 1981, the Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC) is one of five Continental Associations. It looks after the interests of 17 member nations in the Oceania Region, including Australia and New Zealand as well as seven associate members. 

ONOC has an office in Guam where Secretary General Mr. Ricardo Blas is based and the Secretariat in Suva, Fiji, where the Office of the President Dr Robin Mitchell is located.

All services and-programmes are based on the ONOC Strategic Plan for 2018-2021, and its 4 Core Functions of (1) Building and Strengthening NOCs Capacity (2) Cultivating Strategic Partnerships (3) Contributing towards Sporting Excellence and (4) Leading by Example.

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For more information, please contact;

Inoke Bainimarama
Chief Communications Officer
inoke@onoc.org.fj
Phone: +679 9759045

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