Issey Miyake Converts 132-Year Old Kyoto Machiya into a New Boutique and Gallery

the discreet facade of Issey Miyake’s new Kyoto boutique | all photos by Masaya Yoshimura

Sumi, a shade of charcoal grey that comes from Japanese calligraphy, served as the inspiration for fashion designer Issey Miyake’s new Kyoto boutique, which opened last weekend. It was designed by longtime collaborator Naoto Fukasawa, the product designer best-known for helping shape many of MUJI’s minimal products. And together, they’ve created a shop that is discreet, elegant and may very well consist of 50 shades of grey.

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Spring into Cherry Blossom Season with these Seasonal Bentos

From Sushi Aoki in Ginza, Temarizushi (left) and Ebi-chirashi (right)

Today is officially the first day of Spring, and that means just one thing: cherry blossom season is just around the corner. Hanami, as it’s called in Japan, is one of the most popular national pastimes. And one of the most important aspects of hanami – second only to location – is food. For those too lazy to cook (like us), we present you with a few seasonal takeout bento options you can pick up in Tokyo that will certainly impress your friends!

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Masato Yamaguchi Hacked a Cleaning Robot to Create an Autonomous Robotic Painter

Back in 2015, a cleaning robot underwent a radical career change when Japanese artist Masato Yamaguchi hacked it and transformed it into a painter. Nicknamed Mr. Head, it was armed with bottles of paint and a new set of autonomous commands that allowed it to dribble paint onto a canvas as it moved around, creating abstract works of art. But his best work is still to come.

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Tower of the Sun’s Psychedelic Interior to Open to the Public

Taro Okamoto’s Tower of the Sun in Osaka | all photos courtesy Sankei News

Taro Okamoto’s iconic Tower of the Sun was completed in 1970. The 230-foot structure served as a symbol of Expo ’70, the first ever Expo held in Asia. It was meant to symbolize the past, present and future but the statue fell into disrepair after many years of neglect. In 2016 a massive effort began to restore the structure, as well as bring it up to date with earthquake codes.

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Nike’s New Office in Tokyo Designed by Torafu Architects

the lobby and entrance to Nike’s new showroom and office space in Tokyo. At the center is a sculpture by artist Tomokazu Matsuyama. All photos by Daici Ano

If you’re unfamiliar with the story, global athletic brand Nike actually got its start in Japan when founder Phil Knight first visited the country in 1962. As described in his incredibly entertaining autobiography, Knight was so impressed by Onitsuka Tiger sneakers that he began importing them in a deal that shaped the future of Nike and footwear itself. So it seems only fitting that 55 years later, and right before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Nike gets a brand new Tokyo office and showroom that brings together all the different groups of the company.

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Picklestone: a fun and beautiful way to make pickles

Pickles, or tsukemono, are the unsung heroes of Japanese cuisine. And now there’s a revolutionary new tool that builds on our predecessors traditional methods. 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. The Picklestone is everything a modern-day pickler needs: with an emphasis on material and usability, it’s beautiful, portable and functional.

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In Japan, an Anti-Decluttering House

The entrance way to House in Miyamotocho, a home in Osaka that embraces clutter

Marie Kondo (or Konmari, if you prefer) and her decluttering empire has taken the West by storm. And it’s given Japan an image of ultra-minimalism where people live a simple lifestyle, free of all the material possessions that have plagued Western homes. This is far from the truth and anyone who has visited an ordinary Japanese home (not one of those modernist homes featured in all the architecture blogs) knows it. People in Japan have stuff. Lots and lots of stuff.

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Music Monday: Yurufuwa Gang

Nene (left) and Ryugo Ishida of Yurufuwa Gang

If you want something new to listen to this week, try Yurufuwa Gang, a Japanese hip hop duo comprised of Nene and Ryugo Ishida. Dissecting their name gives you a sense of what you’re in for: yurufuwa is a combination of 2 words, yururi (leisurely) and fuwa (light or comforting). Together, Yurufuwa Gang kicks out some joy-inducing tracks that are full of goofy, slacker vibes.

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The Mechanical Bonsai Paintings of Mai Inoue

At the age of 24, Mai Inoue creates paintings that look like they could have been painted by her great grandparents. Her subject matter are bonsai: the Japanese art form of pruning and cultivating small trees (commonly a hobby of seniors) that itself dates back thousands of years. And her paintings appear to be made on aged parchment paper. But these are definitely not your grandparents bonsai.

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Kigumi: The Japanese Museum of Interlocking Wooden Joints

In a nondescript building in Tokyo there is a little-known museum that celebrates on of Japan’s most distinctive crafts: kigumi, or interlocking wooden joints.

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