Keep Cool This Summer With the Komorebi Uchiwa

Komorebi (木漏れ日) is one of those uniquely untranslatable Japanese words. It means “sunlight filtering through the tree leaves” and embodies a poetic appreciation for nature and its changing seasons. Capturing that aesthetic, and embedding it into a beautiful handheld fan (uchiwa), is designer Kotoko Hirata, who created the Komorebi Uchiwa.

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T-Kimono: Scandinavian Style Meets Japanese Traditional Clothing

For years Westerners have experimented with wearing traditional Japanese clothing like the kimono and jinbei. The results have, at best, been mixed. Let’s just say that it takes a certain type of non-Japanese man or women to wear a kimono without looking out of place. I for one, have never even felt the urge to try, that is until my recent encounter with the T-Kimono.

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How Far Will You Go? An Exhibition of Grand Projects at 21_21 Design Sight

They did what? That’s right: they made a walkable floating pier from 100,000 sq meters of fabric; they’re building a church that’s 1.35 meters wide and 45 meters high; they made a cave entirely out of tape; they made an inflatable concert hall; he spent 96 hours creating a mural from mud. These are just some of the dynamic projects by Japanese and international artists that have been assembled for an ambitious exhibition at Tokyo’s 21_21 Design Sight.

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World’s First Tatami-Style Starbucks to Open in Kyoto

a noren curtain hangs outside the new Kyoto Starbucks location

Starbucks first international market outside of North America began in Tokyo in 1996 and now with 1,100 stores across the country, Japan is Starbucks 4th largest market globally. Now, after 21 years, they’re opening the world’s first tatami-style Starbucks in Kyoto on June 30, 2017.

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A 160-Year Old Sake Brewery Gets a New Addition

Located in the middle of rice fields and situated at the foot of Mt. Sefuri in the Itoshima area of Fukuoka is the Shiraito Sake Brewery. Founded in 1855, the company is known for their ancient technique of haneki-shibori, which applies much less pressure than machine-pressed sake and crates a more pure and mellow flavor.

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Handmade Storybook Cookies Made From Natural Dyes

all photos courtesy okashinokobito

Anyone who questions baking as an art form should look no further than the cookies made by Okashi no Kobito. Professional cookie artist Nobuyo Toyono began this enterprise creating edible masterpieces out of Osaka after graduating from confectionery vocational school (yes, there is such a thing). Using all-natural ingredients, Toyono designs, bakes, and ices each and every cookie by hand.

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Ribbonesia’s Animal and Plant Life Created Entirely by Ribbon

If you’re wrapping a gift or a present in Japan, surely you’re familiar with the multi-layered art of packaging. Maybe you begin with cellophane, move on tissue, transition to wrapping paper and, before you place it in the special gift bag you apply a decorative ribbon. It’s this “familiar but unessential” material, the ribbon, that caught the eyes of creatives Baku Maeda and Toru Yoshikawa, who went on to form their company Ribbonesia.

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The Eerie Humanoid Driftwood Sculptures of Nagato Iwasaki

all photos courtesy Nagato Iwasaki

Artist Nagato Iwasaki‘s lifelike driftwood sculptures are perfect examples of the uncanny valley — the feelings of revulsion and uneasiness one experiences from non-human objects that appear a bit too similar to real human beings. Japan seems to excel at this in areas like robotics technology, and indeed, the term “uncanny valley” itself was coined in 1970 by a Japanese roboticist, Masahiro Mori. Iwasaki takes this concept out into nature, blurring the line between flesh and wood.


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Otherworldy Paintings of Vegetation by Asako Iwasawa

The Japanese painter Asako Iwasawa grew up in Tokyo’s Akabane district, an area, even for Tokyo standards, that particularly lacks green spaces. It’s for this reason that Iwasawa eventually decided to pack up and move to the country, a decision that would go on to influence her otherworldly paintings of insects and vegetation.

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Cross-Sections Form a Technicolor Cubist Home in Tokyo

From the outside this nondescript Tokyo home, with its cream-colored façade, looks just like all its other neighbors. But inside it’s anything but. A vibrant palette of pastel-colored walled differentiate the rooms, which give the impression that you’ve stepped into a cubist painting.

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