Taka x Musubi Hiro

Taka’s signature style is a whirlwind of lines and colours combined with elements of design, architecture, nature and portraiture.

Since late June his cool style can be seen above the doors of soon-to-open izakaya/ gastropub Musubi Hiro on Cochrane Street. 

I caught up with Taka on his final day of painting to talk to him about his latest creation. Also, I was able to talk to the restaurant’s owner and manager Arturo Sims, making this my first time to get fresh impressions of a wall’s creation from both the artist’s and the commissioning client’s points of view. 

Arturo’s fascination with spam musubi

Arturo hails from Chile where he spend a good amount of his childhood days watching Japanese anime like Power Rangers or Ultraman. At the same time, he developed an early interest in food as a medium to bring people together and have a good time. This interest grew so strong that he decided to become a chef, taking him on a culinary journey to countries such as Peru, the United States, France and Switzerland before landing in Hong Kong about 9 years ago. Here, he shifted his focus to restaurant management and consultation before deciding to open Musubi Hiro.

At Musubi Hiro the menu revolves around spam musubi. A specialty that Arturo only recently learned about but was instantly fascinated by and invested lots of hours into research, testing and finding the perfect recipes.

Arturo is not only passionate about the spam musubi itself but also about its history. He shared with me that basic musubi (slightly salted rice balls) have their origin in Japan, once having been the snack-on-the-go of samurais in war times. The canned cooked pork meat Spam on the other hand is an all-American product that made its breakthrough during World War II when great quantities were sent to American G.I.’s abroad as food rations. Spam musubi was created in Hawaii in the first half of the 20th century when resourceful Japanese immigrants due to rationing combined spam and musubi into a unique snack.

Taka’s mural for Musubi Hiro 

With the snack’s and his own travel history in mind, Arturo set out to find an artist that would embody a similar vibe. Being born and raised in Japan but having lived in Canada, New Zealand, South Africa and now Hong Kong, Taka was the perfect match to paint the outside mural for Musubi Hiro

Admiring Taka’s style, Arturo tried to allow as much freedom with the creation as possible but this being the restaurant’s figurehead to the passersby, he had a few requirements. Arturo asked for elements of mountains and water to mirror that Hong Kong, Japan and Hawaii are all islands.

Taka seamlessly integrated these requested elements alongside his personal picks. Aside from water and a mountain, there are also skyscrapers, HK-style shutter and tile patterns, dragon scales or the Bauhinia flower.

Usually not amongst his first choice, for this mural Taka quickly adapted to the use of saturated reds to make sure that the mural goes hand in hand with the restaurant’s logo. 

Taka’s mural for Musubi Hiro is another great example of how an artist can perfectly balance client’s requests and stay true to his signature style when he is given the creative freedom and trust in his art. 

Location of the mural: G/F, 37 Cochrane Street, Central (just below the 7-11 on Gage Street)

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