The Mysterious Japanese Ambigrams of Issei Nomura

the sculpture depicts the kanji for sun (陽) but when lit at the right angle, casts a shadow of the character for shadow (陰)

An ambigram is a word or phrase that can be interpreted differently depending on the angle or orientation that it’s viewed. It can make for some pretty cool trick-art, which is why artist Issei Nomura finds it so intriguing.

One piece in particular that he created in 2013, which has been making the rounds on social media, is quite fascinating. The metallic sculpture depicts the kanji character for sun (陽). But when a light is cast at just the right angle the shadow depicts the kanji for shadow (陰), poetically rendering the phrase 陰と陽, or Yin and yang.

The 27-year old artist is based in Toyama prefecture where he pursues his interest in ambigrams while also creating custom-made ambigrams for brands, corporations and individuals. Obviously his own logo is an ambigram too. The dark letters spell のむら (Nomura) while the negative space inside spells いっせい (Issei).

You can see more of his work over on Netgeek, as well as on Issei’s own site.

the artist’s own name as ambigram

Spoonful is a category of news on Spoon & Tamago that provides short, lighthearted stories on Japanese art, design and culture.

Psychedelic, Graffiti-Inspired Artwork by Yoshi47

Dr. Seuss meets Tim Burton is one of the many ways to describe the psychedelic artwork of Japanese artist Yoshi47. His signature motif is a deranged, smiling (but also sometimes frowning) sun with a mouthful of teeth that reminds you of the Cheshire Cat.

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Dad Turns Daughter’s Artwork into Adorable Bento Box

all photos courtesy Takafumi Ozeki

Takafumi Ozeki is definitely a contender for the 2017 Dad of the Year Award. Ozeki often makes bento box lunches for his daughter to take to preschool. He attempts to create adorable kyara-ben (character bento) that feature his daughter’s verbal requests for some of her favorite TV characters or animals.

But recently his daughter created a drawing and asked her Dad to turn it into a bento box. Ozeki was up for the challenge, and translated the sweet drawing into a unique and creative bento box. The result was quite wonderful and the daughter was incredibly happy, said Ozaki on Twitter. But he expressed concern that the teacher, not aware of the back story, may think he’s deranged.

Ozeki, when not making adorable bento boxes for his daughter, is one half of the Japanese comedy duo The Geese.

Spoonful is a category of news on Spoon & Tamago that provides short, lighthearted stories on Japanese art, design and culture.

Artless Craft Tea & Coffee Nakameguro

the new Artless Tea & Coffee opened in Nakameguro on May 12, 2017

Just about 1 year ago Shun Kawakami’s branding agency artlessInc. opened a tea & coffee stand in Harajuku. But they recently relocated to a larger, cooler space under the Nakameguro train tracks. And by doing so, have completed their trifecta – an integrated coffee shop, branding office and gallery – all in one space.

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Picklestone: A New Revolutionary Tool to Create Pickles

Pickles, or tsukemono, are the unsung heroes of Japanese cuisine. For thousands of years pickles have quietly played their role as side-dish but I don’t think I’m alone in admitting that I’ve often enjoyed them as a main dish, along with a bowl of white rice. But when designer and foodie Tomonori Tanaka tried his hand at making pickles last year he found it harder than expected.

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Japanese Bookstore to Begin Same-Day Delivery to Train Station Lockers

coin lockers at Fuchu Station along the Keio Line in Tokyo

Watch out Amazon! Japanese bookstore Keibundo will begin offering a new service starting May 23, 2017. The “Same-Day Pickup Service” works like this: simply place your order online before 1:00pm. Indicate the train station you use (presumably the one you live at) and your order will be delivered to a coin locker at that train station, where it can be picked up after 6:00pm on your way home.

Customers will receive a code on their phone that opens the coin locker. For those who favor real books over e-books, and want to pretend they’re a spy engaged in illicit activities, this could be a fun way get your books.

But the service is so far limited to just a handful of train stations along the Keio Line in Tokyo. There are more details about the new service here.

Spoonful is a category of news on Spoon & Tamago that provides short, lighthearted stories on Japanese art, design and culture.

Tokyo 2020 Olympic/Paralympic Mascot Design Proposals to be Judged by Children

The Tokyo 2020 Olympics Committee has announced a call for entries for the Tokyo 2020 Games Mascots. Although Japan is well-known for their mascots, the last time the Summer Olympics were held in Japan the year was 1964 so mascots weren’t really a thing. That means this will be the first mascot for a summer Olympics game held in Japan.

Around the end of this year a shortlist of entries will be judged by a group of elementary school children, which is kind of a cool idea. But given the past controversies those kids better be up to speed on international copyright basics and plagiarism.

All residents of Japan are welcome to submit their proposal for mascot.

Spoonful is a category of news on Spoon & Tamago that provides short, brief stories on Japanese art, design and culture.

Think Small: A Solo Exhibition of Sculpture by Takeshi Miyakawa

“Think Small” on view at John Doe gallery in Brooklyn through May 28, 2017

The Brooklyn-based Japanese designer Takeshi Miyakawa currently has a solo exhibition at John Doe gallery, also in Brooklyn. On display are a series of sculptural pieces, both abstract and functional. But in each instance they capture Miyakawa’s knack for reframing the small and ordinary.

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The Company Uniforms of Fashion Designer Naoki Takizawa

Naoki Takizawa designed all the uniforms for the crew of the new Train Suite Shiki-Shima (all photos courtesy Naoki Takizawa)

When the luxurious Train Suite Shiki-Shima launched earlier this month people ogled at its sumptuous bar car, first-class dining room and lounge car with its large windows and couches. But when it comes to the service industry, one design detail that often gets overlooked are the staff uniforms. But this is expected. After all, it’s not a fashion show. The customers are meant to be at the center stage while the staff quietly orchestrate. But behind many great experiences are the people that make them happen. And behind many successful uniforms in Japan is fashion designer Naoki Takizawa.

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Tsutsui Tokimasa Fireworks is Keeping the Flame of Tradition Alive

the factory and shop of Tsutsui Tokimasa Fireworks

In a rural part of Fukuoka prefecture there’s a small company that’s been making children’s fireworks for over 80 years. Tsutsui Tokimasa Fireworks specializes in small, handheld sparklers and are one of only three other Japanese makers of sparklers. Their handmade sparklers are so beautifully packaged you might not want to burn them, especially in the dark.

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