Prior to Momofuku Ando releasing his revolutionary Cup Noodle into the world in 1971, he went on a fact-finding mission to America. There, he saw Americans taking his previous invention, the chicken noodle, breaking it in half, putting it in a cup instead of a bowl and eating it with a fork instead of chopsticks. This is what’s said to have inspired him to create Nissin’s Cup Noodle: a design that can be enjoyed by people all over the world. Almost exactly 48 years later, Nissin is releasing a fork that’s been specifically designed for exact purpose.
As dusk settles in, the lights flicker on at Takigawa, a new sushi shop that opened over the summer in Fukuoka. A single lamp with the shop’s Japanese name – 多㐂川 – written in calligraphy glows and a noren with a curious illustration of a fish hangs above the entrance, welcoming visitors.
There’s a certain allure to Tokyo’s storefronts – the colors, the textures, the urban decay – that have inspired many artists and designers. For Stockholm-based designer Christopher Robin (yes, he was indeed named after the boy in Winnie the Pooh) that inspiration came when he had the opportunity to visit Tokyo for the first time last year. Upon returning, he began a side-project called TokyoBuild.
Japanese illustrator Makoto Wada passed away on October 7, 2019 due to pneumonia. He was 83 years old. The Osaka-born artist graduated from Tama Art University in 1959 and entered the advertising industry where we quickly made a name for himself. He became in independent illustrator in 1968.
Back in 2013, Japanese architect Shigeru Ban (previously) won a competition to design a campus of timber buildings to house the headquarters of watch brands Swatch and Omega in Biel, Switzerland. Now, after almost 5 years of construction, the campus was completed with an inaugural ceremony taking place last week.
Miyakodori is a Tokyo-based print shop led by Takashi Kashiwagi. His great-grandfather was also a print-maker, and was involved in the Shin-Hanga movement around the turn of the century to revitalize ukiyo-e (woodblock prints). In keeping with his great-grandfather’s creative spirit of adapting to the times, Kashiwagi has spearheaded a new initiative in collaboration with contemporary illustrators to use laser cutters to carve woodblocks and create a new type of ukiyo-e. Borrowing from Japan’s new Reiwa era that began May 1, 2019, they’re calling it Reiwa Shin-Hanga.
Nestled within the foot of the Nasu Mountains, slightly North of Tokyo, is Art Biotop, an art retreat and artist’s residency. They offer classes in pottery and glass-blowing, as well as cycling and spa treatments. But one of their highlights is the meditative Water Garden designed by architect Junya Ishigami.
Around this time of year, a coveted prize is awarded within a niche industry in Japan: the Laundromat-of-the-Year-Award (pdf). It’s presented at an industry fair in Tokyo known as the International Coin-Operated Laundry EXPO where excellence in laundromats are recognized within 3 main categories. There’s a top prize, a prize for best design and a prize for best user experience.
The painter Naoki Tomita uses thick layers of oil paint to depict suburban scenes of Japan: the facades of stores, high-rise buildings or a parking lot, devoid of anything but vending machines. For an upcoming solo exhibition, Tomita has focused on Tokyo as his prime subject, ahead of 2020.
Mt. Fuji Architects is named after Japan’s tallest peak. The architecture firm’s founder, Masahiro Harada, grew up in Shizuoka which is also home to the famous mountain. Back in 2016 when Harada was asked to come up with a plan to renovate a Nichiren Buddhist temple and cemetery in Tokyo that dates back to the early edo-period, he recalled the words of his grandmother: “don’t step on that stone; it could be a grave.”