Over the Wall


PALAU Mural Project

PALAU Mural Project

Palau is one of Japan’s direct neighbors to the south. The two countries enjoy a close relationship, having always cooperated through international organizations like the United Nations, as well as on various issues such as whaling. Their friendship is based on deep economic ties and long historical bonds.
After World War I, Japan took over administration of Germany’s former colonies in the Pacific Islands until the end of World War II. During that time, the South Seas Bureau was established in Koror, Palau. Tens of thousands of Japanese people lived on the islands, engaging in various industries, including agriculture, fishing, and aquaculture.
Due to this, a Japanese influence is still visible today in Palau’s language and culture.
Moreover, even after the war, many Japanese people have stayed active in Palau,
including the late Kuniwo Nakamura, who was President at the time of independence in the country. With the generation that remembers Japanese colonial rule growing older, it is becoming an important issue to maintain the cultural ties between Japan and Palau (cited from the Japanese Embassy in the Republic of Palau website).
Palau is a tourism-oriented country and while many Japanese had been visiting every year, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted this and the number of tourists is currently on the decline. This year, 2024 marks the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Palau. Based on this, we planned this mural project as a way to create a mural that connects both countries.

Project Overview

Through Over the Wall’s activities up to now, the murals have had the power to bring positivity to situations where there are poverty and conflict, as well as to medical facilities.
At the same time, we have noticed that the creation of these murals also becomes an opportunity to attract many people. This time, with the cooperation of the Palau Visitors Authority, we hope that the murals will act as the perfect basis to promote Palau’s attractiveness, which as a result will help increase tourists from Japan and around the world. We also plan for local elementary school students to participate in the creation of the murals. We hope that the local children, the future of Palau, can see their country in a fresh light for its charm and characteristics, and this new awareness will lead to future development of the country.
This time we will be painting murals at Palau International Airport, the only such airport in the country. It has deep ties with Japan as it was built as an air base by the Imperial Japanese Navy in 1944. After the war, it became a civilian airport and while a terminal building was completed in 1984, it became too small, so in March 2003 a new terminal was opened with grant aid from the Japanese government. Since 2018, Japanese companies have been investing and participating in the operation of the airport. We plan to create two murals at the site, one in the departure lobby and one in the arrival lobby,
so that everyone who visits Palau International Airport will be able to see them.

Project Aims, Significance, and Expected Effects

Palau was severely hit economically by the COVID-19 pandemic that began in 2020.
Direct flights between Japan and Palau were halted and the number of Japanese tourists fell dramatically, with no sign yet of recovery. Japanese people who have ties with Palau are growing older, leading to concerns that those connections will fade, so we hope to create an opportunity to attract more Japanese tourists through the painting of a symbolic mural together with the Palauan people, commemorating the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between Japan and Palau.

Over the World mural created at Fukuoka Airport in 2021

The Mural Location

Palau International Airport, the gateway to the country, is the only international airport and is located on the outskirts of the former capital Koror in Airai state on
Babeldaob Island. It opened in May 2022, with official development assistance (ODA) from the Japan government.
In cooperation with the Palau’s Ministry of Public Infrastructure and Industries, which oversees operation of the airport, and Palau International Airport, we will create one 10-meter mural in the departure lobby and one 20-meter mural in the arrival lobby of this airport. Our belief is that by painting murals in this location, the gateway to Palau and a symbol of the friendly relations between Japan and Palau, we can create a first and lasting impression of the country for all visitors.

Concept Image of the Mural

The theme for the mural is “the origins of Palau”. There is a legend in Palau that goes like this.
Once, there was a giant clam shell in the middle of the ocean. Within that clam shell lived a small shrimp-like creature called Latmikaik, the clam mother goddess. Latmikaik created many creatures in the ocean, including people who could live both in the sea and on land. Her children piled up sand and created a small island in the middle of the ocean. After that, she had three more children, one of whom lived in the sky. The other two children were sent to the small island. One of those goddess’ children was called Uab. Uab was very large right from when he was born and he grew and grew until he threatened to eat all the food on the island. The suffering villagers therefore decided that they had to kill him. His mother cried, but knowing that the villagers would die otherwise,
she agreed. So the villagers cut him up with a large ax. The various pieces of his body each became an island and formed what is now Palau.
(The mural image will be kindly overseen and approved by the Palau Bureau of Cultural and Historical Preservation.)

I was inspired by this legend to paint a scene centered around the three gods arriving on the first island of the clam mother, with a large Over the Wall sun overhead. Around the sun are the flags of the 16 states that make up Palau. Over the Wall’s concept is that the whole world lives under the same sun and so this time the mural features the same sun that has appeared in all the previous murals. Here the sun has been made yellow to evoke the image of the Palauan flag. The Palauan flag symbolizes the sea and the moon and when this mural is viewed from afar, it resembles the country’s flag.
There is a tradition in Palau to paint pictures of fish in various places. Many are painted on Palauan Bai traditional houses and some can also be found in murals on the Capitol Building, still in use today. This time, we would like the local children to draw this familiar motif of sea creatures and include them in the mural.

Creation of a Mural in the Departure Lobby at Palau International Airport

As this mural will be created at Palau’s only international airport, we wish to create an image that instantly conveys the unique charm of Palau. Palau’s oceanic and natural scenery is magnificent, symbolized by features such as the World Heritage site the Rock Islands Southern Lagoon. Further, like Japan, Palau has its own origin story, so we would like to create a symbolic mural that builds around Palau’s origins and attractiveness.

Envisioned image of the mural at Palau International Airport’s departure lobby

Creation of a Mural in the Arrival Lobby at Palau International Airport

We initially planned to create the one mural in the departure lobby. However, after receiving a request from local residents for one more mural in the arrival lobby, we decided to create another one that will be visible on arrival at the airport. Our plan is to create this additional mural in collaboration with local Palauan elementary school children. Around 100 students will draw the marine creatures that can be found in the ocean around Palau and they will be included in this mural, a companion to the one in the departure lobby.

Envisioned image of the mural at Palau International Airport’s arrival lobby

Completion Ceremony for the Mural

We plan to hold a completion ceremony to celebrate finishing the mural. Our hope is that by having these murals, created by Japanese and Palauan people, on display for many people to see, they will become widely known as symbols of friendship between the two countries. We plan to invite everyone who participated in creating the murals, the local residents, and representatives of both Japan’s and Palau’s governments to join the grand celebrations.

The opening reception for the Ukraine Mural Project. Attendees included Ambassador of Japan to Ukraine Shigeki Sumi,
Representative of the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in Ukraine Pablo Mateu, and Minister of Culture of Ukraine Yevhen Nyshchuk.

Art Classes and Flag Relay Workshop

Each year, along with creating a permanent mural for the project country, Over the Wall also makes a flag to be given to the children of the next country where the project will be held. At the previous location of Benin, the local children made a flag to pass on to the children of Palau. In Palau, we will make flags to pass on to the next country and we also plan to run art workshops for children using art supplies brought from Japan.


July 3
Arrival in Palau
Begin production on the Departure Lobby Mural
6 & 7
Mural Workshop for the Arrival Lobby
8 – 17
Creation of the Departure Lobby Mural
18 – 19
Mural Workshop for the Arrival Lobby and the Flag Relay Workshop
20 – 28
Creation of the Arrival Lobby Mural
Completion Ceremony
Return to Japan
  • Organizer: Over the Wall
  • Hosted by: Palau’s Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Palau International Airport
  • In collaboration with: Palau Visitors Authority, Embassy of Japan in the Republic of Palau
  • In cooperation with: Palau Bureau of Cultural and Historical Preservation, IMPERIAL PALAU CORPORATION
  • Supported by: Sakura Color Products Corp. Co., Ltd., TAKENAMI KENSETSU Co., Ltd., Sagasiki Co., Ltd., Happy Care Life Co., Ltd., KOMABA, Propeller Co., Ltd., Mirai Kikaku Corp., Matsumoto Sangyo, Inc.
  • Project Supporters: Over the Wall Annual Supporters

Contact Information

  • Over the Wall Office, Kensuke Miyazaki
  • Email:info@world-mural-project.com
  • Website:world-mural-project.com