Low Pixel CG: the playful ceramic artwork of Toshiya Masuda

Toshiya Masuda ceramics (FB)

When you say the words pottery or ceramics most people will think of earthy clay and glazes. Images of old vessels that hold flowers, or used as tableware, might come to mind. On the other side of the spectrum are computer graphics and digital art, a wholly intangible media that’s made of bits and bytes. Combine these two vastly different fields and you get what artist Toshiya Masuda calls “image gap.”

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Plock: Art Student Creates Wooden Clock With Over 400 Moving Pieces

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Suzuki making adjustments to his 407-piece wooden automaton clock

Kango Suzuki is an art student at the Tohoku University of Art and Design majoring in product design. For his senior thesis exhibition this month he decided to create an automaton, a moving mechanical device that performs a certain task.

Kango had seen automaton’s write messages, such as the one made popular in Hugo. But instead of words, Kango thought it would be fun to create a device that wrote out the time. But even Kango himself didn’t know what he was getting himself into. And that his resulting creation titled “Plock” would consist of over 400 wooden moving pieces.

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Kyoto’s New Tsutaya Bookstore

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As bookstores all over the United States close their doors, helpless against the onset of ebooks, Japan holds steadfast to the cultural importance of the printed page. Just last month, a new bookstore called Kyoto Okazaki Tsutaya opened in Kyoto, heralding a mission to stock their selves with books that will “move the soul” and reinforce Kyoto’s status as a leading cultural center.

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The Fantasy Pop Art of Yoshitaka Amano on Display in Tokyo

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Concept illustration of a city from Final Fantasy VI (1994)

If you were a gamer you knew him from his illustrations for Final Fantasy. If you watched 1970s anime you knew him from his design work for Gatchaman and Tekkaman. If you were a music fan maybe you knew him for his illustrations of David Bowie. Either way, it’s clear that the character designer and illustrator Yoshitaka Amano touched many colors of the art spectrum.

A new exhibition just opened in Tokyo, and spans Amano’s fascinating career with an emphasis on his earlier work.

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Lacquered Deerskin and Pac-Man Come Together For Unique Collaboration

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Inden-ya is a 434-year old family-run company specializing in Koshu Inden, a traditional Japanese craft that consists of lacquer-based printing on deerskin to create leather products. The process was originally developed in India, hence the similar-sounding name, and was used heavily to produce certain parts of samurai armor.

Although samurai armor fell out of demand, the company remains an icon of Japanese craftsmanship and has been producing durable accessories like wallets, coin purses and handbags. But a recent collaboration with another iconic figure of Japan has people rediscovering their products.

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Playful Animated GIFs Imagine Edo Japan With Computers

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“MADE in JAPAN” shows artisans carving keyboards and computer towers, illustrating the divisions of labor that became common in the 19th century. The image is a mash-up of Hokusai’s View from Fujimigahara in Owari Province and The Timberyard at Honjo

GIF artist Atsushi Segawa (previously) is known for taking classical images of ukiyo-e and carefully computerizing certain parts, setting them into motion. His style is a mix of realism and surrealism, combining historical accuracy with science fiction. Segawa’s work recently caught the eye of Japanese computer maker NEC, who commissioned the artist to create a series of animated GIFS that imagine what life in Edo Japan would be like if computers existed.

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Japan’s 72 Microseasons Now Available as an App

Japan 72 Microseasons

What season is it right now? Winter? Wrong. Technically, it’s the 1st week of February, which means it’s “Spring Winds Thaw the Ice” (東風解凍). What about next month? You say Spring? Wrong again. March begins with “Grass Sprouts, Trees Bud” (草木萌動) and ends with “The First Cherry Blossoms” (櫻始開). I am, of course, going off of Japan’s ancient calendar, which is divided into 24 seasons and 72 microseasons.

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Pat Inn: A Modernist Hotel on Tokyo’s Tropical Chichijima

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The sleekest hotel on a Japanese tropical island.

A 25 hour ferry ride from Tokyo, lies the Ogasawara Archipelago, a series of tropical islands that few seem to know about. Hailed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2011, these islands are teeming with bright fish frolicking amongst rich coral reefs. The brilliantly colored water and sandy beaches offer visitors a range of activities: from scuba-diving and snorkeling in the rusty remains of a torpedoed ship from WWII, to fishing and sea-kayaking. While the archipelago consists of a handful of small islands, the only populated islands  are Hahajima (pop. 500) and Chichijima (pop. 2000).

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Yusuke Nishimura Photographs the Unknown World of Japanese Performing Folk Arts

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Sagi-mai (Heron Dance) from Tsuwano, Shimane

The world of Japanese performing folk art is an obscure one. Despite having been around for hundreds of years, most Japanese have not been exposed to it. And when they do, it’s usually by chance. For photographer Yusuke Nishimura, it took 23 years of living in Japan before he stumbled upon the performing folk arts, an experience akin to discovering a secretive society.

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Bacon Ice Cream and Photographer Yoshiyuki Okuyama

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If you hurry, you may be able to catch the final week of photographer Yoshiyuki Okuyama‘s exhibition “BACON ICE CREAM” at the Parco Museum in Tokyo’s Shibuya district. Showcasing roughly 100 works from the past 5 years, this mini-retrospective show celebrates Okuyama’s prodigious entrance into the competitive Tokyo art scene. His photography features characters that seem to emerge from ruptures— ruptures that offer a glimpse into alternate realities whose environments are peppered with vibrant hues or glazed over with dreamy pastel palettes.

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