Earlier this year in March, the Japan Travel & Tourism Association announced the recipients of their 2020 Tourism Poster Awards. There were 139 entries from prefectures all around Japan highlighting their natural treasures. And while travelling to Japan, or any of these destinations, during our public health crisis is unthinkable, we’ll be traveling vicariously through this posters, looking forward to sometime in the future when we’ll be able to visit in-person.
Like many of us around the world, Japanese singer-songwriter Gen Hoshino is social distancing at home as Tokyo braces for a 2nd wave of coronavirus outbreaks. While in self-quarantine, he wrote a new song titled “Uchide Odorou / Dancing on the Inside” and uploaded the track to YouTube, inviting anyone who wishes to collaborate with him by creating their own arrangements or accompaniments.
Studio Velocity is an Aichi-based architecture firm founded in 2006 by Kentaro Kurihara. Working primarily in a muted white palette, the firm has demonstrated unique methods of rethinking lifestyles and our relationships with dwellings. Recently, they were responsible for this renewed visions of public housing in Japan. So when it came time to design their own office in 2018, the architects carried out that same vision, albeit with a slightly more precarious footing.
Shi-an is a mobile tea house constructed entirely from folded paper without the use of bolts or adhesives. The entirely free-standing structure was designed by Tokyo-based architect Kazuya Katagiri who, with the help of designer Akinori Inuzuka, came up with a method of folding a large piece of washi paper into a single interlocking unit with 2 pockets and 2 arms.
Years before the era of Instagram and food bloggers, the self-taught artist Itsuo Kobayashi was memorializing every meal he ate. Using a combination of illustration, collage and text descriptions, Kobayashi has been creating a food diary of the last 30 years of his life.
The cherry blossoms are in full bloom now across Japan. Tokyo’s parks, in particular, are covered in pink and white blossoms. So yes it’s tempting to go out and enjoy some good food and booze under the trees with your friends. But given the uptick in confirmed coronavirus cases across Japan, there’s an organized effort to encourage folks to stay home this season. We support the digital hanami effort, and hereby present to you a series of photographs and videos you can enjoy from the comfort of your sofa. Not hanami but homenami, amiright? The cherry blossoms will bloom again next year.
Over 10 years ago, art director Masashi Kawamura teamed up with Japanese band SOUR to produce a fantastic music video for their song hibi no neiro (“tone of everyday”). Needless to say, this was before our current reality, in which millions are staying home due to the coronavirus outbreak.
In the video, a cast, selected from the band’s actual fan base, choreograph a perfectly-timed dance that was filmed purely via webcam from locations all over the world. It’s the perfect music video for the age of social distancing.
When architect duo Mai and Kazuhiro Narita first came to view a plot of land for which they were being asked to construct a family residence, two things immediately became clear. First, the site, situated on the side of a cliff, offered stunning views of the city of Hiroshima. But second, no heavy equipment would be able to access it. Solving for both parts of the equation would go on to inform the ultimate shape of the house.
In 1805 an unknown artist created “Kidaishouran,” an epic picture scroll stretching over 40 ft (12.3 meters) and depicting the bustling life of Nihonbashi during Japan’s Edo era 200 years ago. In a section of it (above) one can see a busy part of Nihonbashi, lined with sellers and their noren curtains hanging above their stores.
As legend has it, in the 1800s a mythical yokai appeared off the coast of Kumamoto, Japan. The Amabie, as it was called, was described as a mermaid-like creature with long hair, a beak and 3 legs. It made several predictions related to bountiful harvests and, before disappearing back into the sea, left the locals with some advice in case of an epidemic.
(top image: the original edo-era tile carving, courtesy Kyoto University Digital Archives)