When global creative agency UltraSuperNew was thinking up a way to involve its client Heineken beer in a promotional campaign, it decided to throw a monthlong party.
“There aren’t that many rave parties or block parties in Tokyo right now,” says UltraSuperNew digital producer Shimpei Kimura. “There’s a lot of restrictions with the clubs and whatnot. But I guess the main idea is that if you want to have fun and you want to have a party, just gather with your friends and open up a bottle of Heineken beer and get the party going. Nobody’s gonna stop you.”
In line with the beer company’s global “Shape Your City” initiative, UltraSuperNew launched Hai-Ne-Ken, which, when spelled in Japanese kanji, consists of the characters for “cheers” (hai), “sound” (ne) and the space where it all takes place (ken).
The UltraSuperNew Gallery, located in Tokyo’s trendy Harajuku neighborhood, is hosting Hai-Ne-Ken events on weeknights and weekends through July 21. The agency tapped a network of community “city shapers”: DJs, MCs and musicians, as well as four artists — Nobumasa Takahashi, JonJon Green, Whole9 and Jay Shogo — who transform the gallery via live painting sessions into a work of art.
One perk for the artists is that working together once can lead to future collaborations. This experience is already bearing fruit for artist JonJon Green.
The Gunma-born artist was attracted to the project by the cool space and the chance to work with the other artists, all of whom he’d heard of. A former student of Tama Art University, he says showing at the UltraSuperNew gallery brings in “people who don’t have that much contact with the arts can see it up close. It’s a chance to become known to the wider general public.”
Prepare for the unexpected when visiting the gallery. UltraSuperNew says each day is different and lively, just the atmosphere you need to “shape a city.”
“Anyone that is striving to do creative things and live their own life in Tokyo would be a city shaper,” Kimura says. “City shapers know all the right places, all the right parties. You land in a new city, you follow the city shaper and they’re gonna take you to real parts of the city like the hidden alleys and rooftops. It’s purely organic parties that we’re trying to hold with the city shapers by just giving them a space to express themselves.”
Hai-Ne-Ken Shape Your City events take place on various days through July 21. The gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., with some events running until 10 p.m. (closed Sun.). Admission is free. For more details on individual events, visit gallery.ultrasupernew.com/portfolio/kampai-sound-area-shape-your-city.