Boo! Skull Shaped Japanese Sugar Designed by Nobumasa Takahashi

wasanbon nobumasa takahashi (2)

These black and white sugar skulls are made from Wasanbon (和三盆), a fine-grained premium Japanese sugar, traditionally made in the Shikoku prefectures of Tokushima and Kagawa.

They were designed by artist Nobumasa Takahashi and come in 18 pieces of black and white (9 each). The black sugar is made all naturally from bamboo charcoal and can be used just like regular sugar. Perfect for a Halloween party, or for just sweetening your tea or coffee when you’re in a ghoulish mood. Looking for that unique gift to bring to a Halloween party? They’re available in our shop!

wasanbon nobumasa takahashi (1)

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The Majestic Aquariums of the Tokyo Aquascape Union

TAU Tokyo Aquascape Union

Takayuki Fukada won the Grand Prize this year with “Autumn” | click images to enlarge

You can think of them as “living, breathing landscape paintings.” That’s according to T.A.U., the Tokyo Aquascape Union, a group of “aquarium hobbyists” who use “aqua-plant layouts” to create majestic aquariums. The final creations often yield surreal images that resemble dense, lush forests. Sometimes the only way to tell them apart are the fish flying through the air.

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Awaglass: a mesmerizing hourglass that replaces sand with bubbles

awaglass by norihiko terayama

Remember watching those fleeting bubbles as a child and how sad it was when they popped? Well now you can keep them bottled up thanks to an entirely new kind of hourglass created by Norihiko Terayama (previously); the awaglass. Awa means ‘bubbles’ in Japanese, and it’s what replaces sand to create this mesmerizing and soothing object.

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Tsuneko Sasamoto: Japan’s First Female Photojournalist on Staying Curious

tsuneko sasamoto female photojournalist

At age 25 Tsuneko Sasamoto became Japan’s first female photojournalist. At 101 she’s still active today.

In 1940, at the age of 25, Tsuneko Sasamoto became Japan’s first female photojournalist. Originally an aspiring painter, Sasamoto was coaxed into the male-dominated field by a friend who thought she had a good eye for imagery. And as fate would have it, Sasamoto found herself covering events like a 1940 German military visit to Japan, the Tripartite Pact sighing (between Japan, Germany and Italy) also in 1940 and the anti-Japan – U.S. Security Treaty demonstrations in 1960.

Now, at 101, Sasamoto is still taking photographs with her Leica camera. What keeps her going? “Curiosity.”

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Setsumasa Kobayashi’s Mountain Camp Site

kobayashi setsumasa mountain cabin (1)

In the early 2000s, Japanese fashion designer and entrepreneur Setsumasa Kobayashi attended a Phish Festival in Limestone, Maine. It was one of the largest Phish concerts ever and Kobayashi remembers the music, the campground and the roughly 60,000 attendees who seemed to be living an alternative lifestyle, removed from the everyday hustle and bustle of the city. This, he says in an interview, became his inspiration for creating a secretive mountain getaway where he could use and test his outdoor-themed goods that he built his company on.

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Drawing the Streets of Tokyo on Coffee Cups with Mariya Suzuki

drawing to go - Mariya Suzuki

“When I was still in school, I used to hang out at local coffee shops with my friends. One day I noticed how plain the paper cup was.” That’s Mariya Suzuki, an illustrator who went to school in California but is now based in Tokyo. “Naturally, I was inspired to draw what was in front of me,” she says, explaining the modest beginnings of her “Drawing to Go” initiative. Now, Suzuki is inspiring others to create their own paper cup art by hosting a workshop and staging exhibitions.

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Kotobuki: An Exhibition Celebrating Japanese Design

kotobuki exhibition

a selection of designs that will be on display during the Kotobuki exhibition

Saido is a Japanese design collective based in Kansai. Made up of roughly 15 members, the team is comprised of product designers, engineers and craftsmen who individually work in a range of fields – electronics, advertising, interior, sportswear and interface design – but also come together to experiment and push each other’s boundaries of design.

Roughly once a year the collective puts on display some of their most creative work. And the tradition is continuing this year as well with an exhibition that will travel from Kyoto to Tokyo.

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House Cut: A Tokyo Home Designed to Make Way For a Road Expansion

housecut by starpilots

all photos by Satoshi Asakawa courtesy the architects

What do you do if you own a plot of land that may or may not get partially seized by the government for a road expansion? Simple: you build a home that can get cut up yet still survive. At least that’s what this young family decided to do.

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A 120-Year Old Kyoto Machiya Transformed Into a Wonderland of Recycled Goods

pass the baton gion kyoto

a 120-year old machiya converted into recycle shop

“Appreciate what already exists, and create new value.” That’s the motto of Pass The Baton, a modern-day Japanese recycle shop where you’ll find a treasure trove of consignments, antiques, used and upcycled items. And in keeping with their motto, the store has converted a 120-year old traditional home in Kyoto, known as a machiya, into what represents their first foray out of Tokyo.

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A Surrealist Film Shot Entirely With A Droplet of Water on an iPhone

o film (gif)

What would it be like to view the world as a dewdrop on a leaf, or a droplet of water from a faucet? That’s the idea behind a new surrealist short film shot using an iPhone. The dreamy, watery state was achieved by just that: water. The team used a drop of water inside the hole of a 5 yen coin, held in place by surface tension, and affixing the coin over the camera lens.

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