A Tree Grows in Tokyo | Tree-Ness House by Akihisa Hirata

unless otherwise noted, all photos by Vincent Hecht

The Japanese architect Akihisa Hirata (previously) has always been interested in the tangled, organic structure of trees. A tree consists of roots, a trunk, branches, leaves and flowers. And it is made unique and beautiful by the moss and fungi that grows on it, and the bugs and birds and squirrels that inhabit it. For Hirata, who worked for the luminary architect Toyo Ito for 8 years before establishing his own office in 2005, his latest work, “Tree-ness House” in Tokyo, may very well be the perfect embodiment – a metamorphosis, if you will – of Hirata’s philosophy.

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Ultra-Dense Pen Drawings by Yasuto Sasada

“Kujaku” (2018), which depicts a peacock, measures 240 x 175 cm and is Sasada’s largest work to date

Armed with a collection of ultra-thin 0.3 mm colored pens, Japanese artist Yasuto Sasada creates dense and imaginative compositions that often blend elements of mythology, technology and fantasy. At a recent exhibition in Tokyo, some of his latest and largest works were on display.

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Ace Hotel Coming to Japan in Redevelopment of Kyoto’s Oldest Shopping Mall

A rendering of Ace Hotel Kyoto, opening in the winter of 2019

For years the hip Ace Hotel, with locations in cities like New York and Portland, has been a favorite for Japanese tourists. Now, Japan is getting their own Ace Hotel, the first in Asia, that will open in Kyoto in late 2019.

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James Jean and Adachi Woodcut Prints Collaborate on Contemporary Ukiyoe

“Dolly Varden” (2018). An ukiyoe woodblock print created by artist James Jean and Adachi Woodcut Prints

For 90 years The Adachi Institute of Woodcut Prints has carried on the tradition of Japan’s woodcut print techniques. But the Tokyo-based studio is not beholden to the past. Rather, they’ve been actively collaborating with contemporary artists to create contemporary ukiyoe woodblock prints using the same 17th century techniques. Their latest is a collaboration with American-Taiwanese artist James Jean.

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Braille Nueu Typeface Communicates Visually and Physically in English and Japanese


Several days ago we highlighted a twitter hashtag (#私の作品もっと沢山の人に広がれ祭り) that Japanese artists were using to share their work. It’s an exhaustive hashtag with thousands of tweets but one project that caught our eye was the “Braille Nueu” typeface created by designer Kosuke Takahashi, a universal typeface that combines braille with existing English and Japanese characters.

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Odd and Intimate Moments of Daily Life in Japan Captured by Shin Noguchi

Hodogaya,Yokohama (Mar 2012) | all photos by Shin Noguchi

“Truth is stranger than fiction,” Mark Twain famously wrote. “But it is because fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; truth isn’t.” Indeed, scenes of oddities and drama are all around us. All we need to do is look around and pay attention. But Tokyo-based street photographer Shin Noguchi has a particular knack for capturing extraordinary moments of excitement, beauty and humanism that play out on the streets of Japan. Since 2010, Noguchi has been documenting these scenes in an ongoing series titled “Something Here.”

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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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