HA KO: Leaf-Shaped Paper Incense From Awaji Island

The oldest record of incense in Japan can be found in The Nihon Shoki (日本書紀) where it states that aromatic wood drifted onto Awaji Island. Located in Japan’s Seto Inland Sea, Awaji Island has preserved this tradition of incense and, for hundreds of years, continued to rethink it. The latest innovation is, poetically, a return to roots: leaf-shaped paper that carefully burns like a dried leaf.

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Music Monday: Daoko

Daoko is a Tokyo-based Japanese singer and rapper who got her start on video-sharing site Nico Nico Douga. Since having one of her videos gain traction at the age of 15, her career has been on an upward trajectory. Still 22, her style appears surprisingly grounded and mature. She’s gained mainstream and subculture acceptance as she remixes gaming and anime culture to create visually arresting music videos.

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A Home in Tokyo Inspired by a Mountainous Hiking Path

Aptly titled Path, a mountainous home rises up in a central Tokyo neighborhood. Designed by ARTechnic Architects and created for a couple and their 3 kids, the U-shaped structure consists of multi-levels that are connected by stairs that wind through the space like a mountain trail.

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Floating Shelves Have Now Leveled Up to Invisible Shelves

Over the past decade or so, floating shelves have become somewhat ubiquitous in the minimal design world. With support mechanisms attached directly into the wall, they made legs obsolete, an effect that rendered cleaner lines. Now, those shelves have reached their next phase: invisibility.

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Music Monday: Monkey Majik

2 Canadians and 2 Japanese form the rock band Monkey Majik

Monkey Majik are a 4-piece international rock band formed by 2 Canadian brothers — Maynard and Blaise Plant — and joined by Japanese members Tax and Dick on drums and bass, respectively. Largely based out of Japan, they manage to jump back and forth between English and Japanese lyrics, a unique formula which has won them many fans.

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Japanese Ambigram Can Be Read as Both Heisei and Reiwa

in this ambigram, the characters read 平成 (Heisei) one way and 令和 (Reiwa) the other

In less than a month, the Japanese Heisei era will end and a new era will begin. The Reiwa era, whose name was revealed last week, begins on May 1, 2019. Ahead of such a symbolic yet monumental change, Japanese ambigram artist Issei Nomura (previously) has created a beautiful tribute to both eras.

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Japanese Stamps Repurposed as Illustrative Tools by Artist Baku Maeda

Despite it’s high-tech reputation, Japan remains very much a nation held firmly in the realm of the analog. Objects like fax machines, record players and hanko, a seal used in lieu of signatures, remain alive and well. Along those lines are stamps: they’re used professionally in schools, post offices and almost all bureaucratic settings. But Hokkaido-based artist Baku Maeda found a different use for them.

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Clothing Retailer Onward’s New Shopping Destination Blends Fashion, Food and Art

Kashiyama Daikanyama, which opened in Tokyo on April 2, 2019

A series of box-like units form a small mountain in a hip Tokyo neighborhood. This is Kashiyama Daikanyama, a new, multi-purpose commercial complex from Japanese clothing retailer Onward. In addition to selling actual clothing, the 6-story structure also includes a café, art gallery, restaurant, bar and lounge space, and is part of a larger trend in which brands bring multiple retail experiences under a single roof.

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Reiwa: Japan’s Poetic New Imperial Era of ‘Splendid Peace’

Today in Tokyo the much-anticipated name reveal for Japan’s upcoming imperial era was announced. Reiwa, written 令和 will be the new era, which will officially commence on May 1, 2019 when the emperor abdicates the throne and transitions the role to his son. In the coming days, much will be said and written about the meaning behind the new name but here is our take.

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Aerial Photos Reveal the Sculptural Beauty of Japanese Highway Interchanges

Highways allows us to travel long distances and interchanges, or junctions, connect those highways so that traffic can pass or change direction without interruption. And in Japan, where heavy mountainous terrain and dense cities create unique constraints, interchanges are, simply put, magnificent feats of structural engineering that we sometimes can’t appreciate through the typical vantage point of a car window.

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