It’s 2am. I’m burning the candle at both ends again trying to buy another must-have product from Japan. It’s a limited edition, Japan-only, 50th anniversary Casio calculator. With it’s diamond-cut aluminum alloy body and anti-reflective high-contrast display, one wonders if Casio has lured Jonathan Ive away from Cupertino.
Take my money! But how?
Finding a shop in Japan which ships abroad is hard enough, but the Casio S100 appears to be sold-out everywhere. Even with the aid of Google Translate, the mission feels hopeless.
Enter White Rabbit Express, a Tokyo-based buying service for Japanese products. I’d used them before to buy a Porter wallet, and their bilingual staff are fast, friendly and informative. Over live chat they explain the calculator is on backorder and will be available again in January. I pre-order the item through their straight-forward website.
Japan-only products are a thing of the past. White Rabbit Express truly makes it easy to buy anything from Japan.
Cyber Monday Deal: Service fee reduced 60% — Monday, November 30th only.
Marimo the cat and Fuku the owl: 2 different species who have become best friends
Because it’s Thanksgiving, we want to take a moment and remind ourselves what we’re truly thankful for: friendship. And one of the most meaningful and important things about friendship is that it can happen between different backgrounds, different ideals, different thinking, different appearances and even different species. Take, for example, the story of Marimo the cat and Fuku the owl, who live in a cafe in Osaka, Japan.
The two met when Marimo was just a few months old and immediately hit it off. They’ve grown older but have remained best friends.
all photos by Gottingham
Back in 2012 we came across something we had never seen before: a palm-sized book that opens up 360-degrees to tell a story in a 3-dimensional world. It was designed by Yusuke Oono, who submitted the idea (and won!) to the YouFab design contest. At the time the book was incredibly labor intensive and, despite many inquiries from around the world, could not be produced for sale.
‘Stepping on the Shimanto River’ by Kyoko Nakamura, Kazuko Nomoto and Kaori Hashimoto, in the 1st Ex-formation theme, ‘River’. Footprint-sized cutouts were placed at points along the bed to create a new way of perceiving the river.
What would your neighborhood look like if you saw it with fresh eyes? How do you represent a river? And how accurately does the word ‘pair’ describe a modern relationship?
The best books change the way you see the world. Kenya Hara’s latest title, Ex-formation, invites you to go a step further, and un-know it.
In a changing retail landscape, a rare breed of shop has opened in Tokyo. “Over 4200 colors of pigments, more than 200 antique ink sticks and 50 kinds of animal glues.” Represented in numbers, that’s Pigment, a new art supply store that has unexpectedly set up shop in Shinagawa, Tokyo. And in addition, the store also stocks inkstones, washi paper, frames and canvases, making it as much a museum as it is a retail shop.
all photos by Takumi Ota | click to enlarge
Welcome to Kyoto’s newest gift store, Today’s Special, where you can embark on a mini treasure hunt to find unique souvenirs. The gifts you find at this special shop will delight your friends and family back home.
Clear blue skies illuminate an aesthetically pleasing stone pathway leading up to the house. Next door, there is a large wooden patio to sit back and relax.
This 120-year old storehouse, aptly named the Rebirth House, survived the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake to be reborn as a stunning living space. Architect Ryo Matsui converted it into a holistic living and dining space adjacent to his client’s home in Ibaraki prefecture. Like so many other buildings that were wrecked and created anew after the devastating earthquake, the Rebirth House has held onto elements of the past.
What do fruit and toilet paper have in common? The answer — I hope you didn’t say ‘both are used in the bathroom’ — is that they are common gifts in Japan. While fruit is more expensive, toilet paper can easily be gifted to customers as a symbol of appreciation. After all, the word fuku has 2 meanings: happiness (福) and to wipe (拭く).
Rolling up these two into the ultimate gift of happiness is designer Kazuaki Kawahara.
all photos by Toshihiro Sobajima courtesy the architects | click to enlarge
If you take an island no larger than the size of Montana and put half of the US population on 17% of it, then you’ve got a good grasp of the size of Japan. As you could imagine, this really complicates the process of finding a home, when there isn’t enough land to begin with. Fortunately, a society’s growth in close quarters has encouraged that infamous Japanese efficiency and creativity that we all know and love.
The area of Tokyo is just 0.6% of Japan’s total but is home to 10% of the population. It’s the densest city in the world where real estate comes at a premium and architects spend their time coming up with creative ways to squeeze living space into every last nook and cranny. The story — call it Tokyo’s property parable — has been told many times. But a new iteration is proving that maximized indoor living space isn’t the only key to good quality of life.