Japanese Man Used Bonsai Techniques to Grow Marijuana

A 35-year old janitor living in Osaka was arrested at his home last month for growing and selling marijuana. It’s a fairly rare incident in Japan but what really caught our eye was the unique techniques that the man used.

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Mobile Lifestyle Products Inspired by Ancient Japanese Living

historical art and photographs that informed the mobility products

During Edo period Japan, fires frequently broke out, forcing citizens to quickly relocate their entire lives. But it wasn’t just fires. Situated on an active fault line and surrounded by sea, citizens of Japan were always aware of the imminent dangers posed by earthquakes and tsunamis, a mindset that led to the development of mobility culture.

People shunned the idea of owning heavy furniture and, instead, opted for a more minimal lifestyle by sleeping on futons and wrapping and carrying their belongings in furoshiki. A new brand of products is proposing a return to such a culture, and has launched a suite of products inspired by their ancestors.

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This Digital Greenhouse Just Sprouted Up in Central Tokyo

Twenty years ago you could walk through Tokyo and stumble across small plots of farmland. And a small stand would sell fresh vegetables that had just been harvested. Those urban farms have virtually disappeared. But now, in one of the most unlikely spots, a farm encapsulated by a digital, technicolor greenhouse, has sprouted up, and is welcoming visitors in to smell, touch and learn about agriculture.

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Wafrica: Japanese Kimonos Inspired by West African Culture

Tribal, animistic, sophisticated and codified. Although Japan and West Africa are oceans apart, these were some of the similarities that art director Serge Mouangue identified during his trip to Japan back in 2007. And in hindsight, this was the birth of Wafrica: an African kimono that blends Japanese refinement and attention to detail with West African rhythmic density and vibration.

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Okawa City Launches Line of Miniature Cat Furniture

Okawa City in Fukuoka prefecture is known as one of Japan’s furniture capitals. The city is even home to Okawa Kagu, a consortium of over a dozen artisans that are steeped in the craft of furniture, tatami and lattice making. Using their exact same skill set that goes into any piece of furniture, Okawa Kagu has produced a line a high quality, miniature furniture for cats.

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Tokyo Signs: Products Inspired by the Streets of Tokyo

If there’s one things that’s visually unique about Tokyo it’s the vibrant, rich and sometimes overstimulating skin of signs: store signs, street signs and traffic signs in a rainbow of colors. In fact, take Tokyo’s skin and apply it to any other city in the world and it will look like Tokyo. Tokyo Signs is a new brand of fashion that takes inspiration from the streets of Tokyo that’s “bursting with visual delights at every turn.”

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A 280-Year Old Dried Foods Shop in Tokyo Gets a Facelift

all photos by Kenya Chiba

In 1737 a shop opened for business in what is now Nihonbashi, a central part of Tokyo that neighbors Ginza. And for 8 generations Yagicho Honten has stayed in business by producing and selling what is the backbone of Japanese cuisine: dried foods like katsuobushi (dried bonito), konbu (kelp), and shiitake mushrooms, three basic ingredients that go into dashi soup stock. Now, on the 280th anniversary of its birth, the shop has been renovated in a deep-redish hue that pays homage to both the original color of the structure, as well as the color of the dried bonito.

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Experimental Japanese Typographic Kanji Characters by ‘Nozaki’

everyone’s favorite ramen noodles, written traditionally as 拉麺

A Japanese web designer and typographer who simply goes by the name ‘Nozaki’ creates beautiful, pictorial Japanese typography that can sometimes walk a thin line between recognizable and unrecognizable. The phrases that are used are sometimes seasonal, sometimes random but in either case, Nozaki renders them with pictorial style that is enjoyable even if you can’t read Japanese.

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YU: An Elegant and Minimal Wooden Furniture Collection by Mikiya Kobayashi

Ever since establishing his own studio in 2006, designer and director Mikiya Kobayashi has placed great emphasis on material; namely, natural resources like wood. So it only made sense for Masterwal, a Japanese furniture manufacturer that has made a name for themselves by producing high quality furniture made from walnut wood, to team up with Kobayashi. Together, they recently unveiled YU, a new collection of elegant and minimalist furniture.

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Music Monday: yahyel

yahyel is a Japanese 5-piece indie band formed by sampler Miru Shinoda, vocalist Shun Ikegai and track maker Wataru Sugimoto. They’re joined by percussionist Kazuya Ooi and video artist Kento Yamada, who is responsible for the groups groundbreaking music videos. Together with Ikegai’s cosmic, falsetto voice and Sugimoto’s dystopian post-dub step tracks, the group creates futuristic sounds that are far removed from any Japanese context.

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