The Tokyo Game Show is a mecca for anyone interested, even remotely, in games. People go for the all the latest in the gaming industry, but also to ogle at new technology, computers, girls (usually in cosplay) and many other reasons. But one of the biggest attractions are the creative and entertaining booths or kiosks that vendors set up. So if you’re heading to the 2014 Tokyo Game Show this weekend, here are the 3 you don’t want to miss. Not because they’re the best but simply because you won’t believe they exist unless you see them in person.
wasabi root: the hardest plant to grow in the world
I stumbled upon an interesting article that shed light on many things I suspected but never actually confirmed about wasabi. Apparently, it’s “deemed by most experts to be the most difficult plant in the world to grow commercially.” But why? The article outlines the following challenges:
- Cultivation: it’s grown unlike any other plant. It needs plenty of water but it can’t be submerged like a water-lily. “In general, water flows over the crop, so it’s grown in water beds and that’s not something we commonly do in North America.”
- Access: one wasabi farmer said it took 6 years simply to get access to viable seeds.
- Temperment: too much humidity or the wrong nutrient composition can wipe out an entire crop of finicky wasabi.
- Development: wasabi takes just over a year to mature, which means that farmers have to be patient before money starts coming in.
- Scale: wasabi is especially prone to disease when planted on a large scale.
JACOB HASHIMOTO. Skyfarm Fortress (installation view). COURTESY: MARY BOONE GALLERY, NEW YORK | click images to enlarge
Sometime during the 12th century in Japan, a famous samurai (Minamoto no Tametomo), who disobeyed the emperor, was punished by being exiled to a small island with his son. In an attempt to save at least his son the warrior constructed a large kite from bamboo. He then tied his son to the kite and lifted him back to the mainland. The story lives on in Japan, as does the tradition of kites, and is perhaps one of the reasons why “congratulation kites” are given to first born sons. Perhaps it’s also the reason why, when artist Jacob Hashimoto asked his father for career advice, he answered, “Man, you need a hobby. Why don’t you build kites?”
“And so castles made of sand, fall in the sea, eventually,” sang Bob Marley, in his 1967 track about life’s bitter ironies. Japanese architect Yasutaka Yoshimura is probably not too concerned about his new work “Window House” crumbling to the sea any time soon. And yet, looking at the home, I couldn’t help but be reminded of our temporary nature of existence.
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tubes of paint bulge out of the canvas
the little man runs out of emergency exit signs
Japanese artist Yuki Matsueda creates sculptures in which an element of the artwork bulges out of the canvas leaving the rest behind. It’s as if a single element was magically brought to life. The 34-year old doctor (he has a Ph.D. in Design) uses a heat press to mold PET plastic into shapes that hold the bulging element in mid-air, creating a surreal, dreamlike sequence of events that appear frozen in time.
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They say that the Inuit have 50 words to describe snow. Well in Japan, where it rains a lot and people love to talk about the weather, the Japanese language has over 50 nouns for rain. There’s rain showers, weak rain, light rain, fine rain, misty rain, heavy rain, intense rain, downpour, localized downpour, chilly rain, rain and snow, rain at night, spring rain, and 2 words for early summer rain, as well as autumn rain.
Plarail Rail Set
If you grew up in Japan in the 70s and 80s you most certainly remember Plarail, the blue plastic train tracks that could be latched together to create sprawling labyrinths of rail for toy trains. Yasuhiko Hayashi and Yusuke Nakano of Paramodel certainly do. Both born in the 70s, the duo began using the iconic toys as a basis for creating their sprawling installation art. And now their very first exhibition in the U.S. has opened.
all photos by takumi ota courtesy torafu architects
Although summer is coming to an end, Gelato will always be in season. At least that’s what the owners of Snow Picnic hope. The new experimental gelato shop recently opened up a few blocks from Nakano Station in Tokyo. Situated along the Yakushi-ai Road Shopping Street, and right next to the Spanish sweets shop papabubble, Snow Picnic offers a scientific approach to cold treats.