Misa Sawairi Alters Her Environment With Whimsical Site-Specific Installations

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“8 Cranes” | leaflets strewn across the street, transformed into paper cranes. Click images to enlarge

If you’re walking down the street and you see a bunch of leaflets strewn across the ground but they’ve been meticulously folded into paper cranes, it’s not the work of a fairy. There’s a good chance you’ve stumbled upon the work of artist Misa Sawairi.

Inspired by her environment, and the different places her feet carries her, the Tokyo-based artist creates whimsical, site-specific installations by subtly altering her surroundings and then photographing them. The results are then juxtaposed in a series of “before and after” shots.

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Henn-na Hotel: World’s First Fully Robot-Staffed Hotel Opens in Japan

henn-na hotel robots

the check-in counter at Henn-na Hotel is staffed by 3 different robots

In Japan there’s now a hotel you can stay in without ever having to deal with another human being. Instead, robot attendants – a miniature, a humanoid and a dinosaur – will greet you and check you into your room. A robotic arm will store luggage for you in lockers while a fully motorized and computerized luggage cart will help you carry your suitcase to your room. This is Henn-na Hotel (literally, ‘Strange Hotel’), a new lodging facility that opened in Nagasaki, Japan.

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After 14 Years Takashi Murakami is Returning to Japan For a Large Scale Solo Show

Mori art museum takashi murakami

Depending on which side of the art critique spectrum you stand on, Takashi Murakami is either a boon to contemporary Japanese art or a blight and disease that is ruining otaku culture. But say what you will, there’s one undeniable fact: he’s one of the most commercially successful artists Japan has ever exported. And now, after 14 years, he’s returning to Japan for a large-scale solo exhibition.

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Revealed: The Tokyo 2020 Olympics Emblem Designed by Kenjiro Sano

olympic emblem header

In exactly 5 years – on July 24, 2020 – the Tokyo Olympics will open. So today the committee unveiled the official Tokyo 2020 emblems for the Olympic and Paralympic Games. We were happy to see that the emblems were designed by Kenjiro Sano, a graphic designer who we’ve championed on the blog for quite some time.

Sano was chosen from an open call for submissions in which a total of 104 designers (4 of which were from overseas) submitted proposals.

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Japan’s Largest Treehouse is a Sprawling Structure Built Around a 300-year Old Tree

risonare atami treehouse by hiroshi nakamura

all photos by Koji Fujii / Nacasa and Partners Inc.

Japanese Treehouse Creator Takashi Kobayashi has built over 120 treehouses in the past 15 years. When it comes to treehouses, his name is known across Japan and overseas. So when he was approached by the Risonare resort in Atami to create a treehouse for them, Kobayashi had his reservations. After all, he had plenty of other offers.

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Maruhiro: A Japanese Pottery Shop With an Elevated Base Made From 25,000 Pieces of Imperfect Ceramics

monohara flagship store by yusuke seki

All photos by Takumi Ota | click to enlarge

The Maruhiro Flagship Store in Saga Prefecture recently underwent a dramatic remodeling. When the new doors – or should I say, floors – opened in April 2015, customers were greeted to an elevated base in the middle of the shop which consisted of 25,000 pieces of imperfect ceramic bowls, plates and cups.

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18th Century Illustrated Animals by Keisai Kuwagata

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Keisai Kuwagata’s artwork can be characterized by a loose, abbreviated style. In other words, cute!

In mid-Edo period Japan there lived an artist by the name of Masayoshi Kitao. He adopted the name Keisai Kuwagata once he became an artist but today both have sunken into obscurity.

However, at the time, Keisai, who worked during the same period as iconic artist Katsushika Hokusai, was popular enough that people often identified with one style or the other: Keisai or Hokusai.

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Own a Piece of History With Recycled Seating From the Tokyo National Stadium

national stadium chairs

Although currently the center of a national debate and overall debacle, there is one nice story that’s come out of Tokyo’s National Stadium. When the iconic arena which hosted the 1964 Tokyo Olympics was torn down last year, furniture company Karimoku managed to salvage roughly 700 seats. And earlier this month it became apparent what the company had in mind: they commissioned 3 designers to turn the seats into a series of limited edition stools, chairs and benches.

tokyo national stadium seating

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Sculptures of Kids Made From Books to Bring Librarians Back Into Libraries

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all photos courtesy Miharu Matsunaga | click to enlarge

We carry our childhood books with us to adulthood: the morals, the lessons, the values. In fact, “books shape who we are” has become a commonplace saying. Such so that a new campaign in Japan to bring librarians back in to libraries interprets the saying literally.

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Exotic Plants From Around the World, On Display In Tokyo

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all photos by Naohiro Tsukada

Seijyun Nishihata is a plant hunter. He travels around Japan and the world collecting exotic, magical plants. That doesn’t sound like a real job but actually it very much is. In fact, Seijyun comes from a long line of ancestors who were in the same field. Seijun is the fifth generation owner of Hanau, a wholesale floral product distributor that dates back almost 150 years. The company cultivates thousands of plant species that Seijun has collected.

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