Adorable Characters Crafted From Recycled Japanese Cardboard Boxes

Takako Handa cardboard characters

Takako Handa cardboard charactersTakako Handa cardboard characters

The illustrator Takako Handa is usually busy creating logos and illustrations for a multitude of editorial publications. However, in her spare time she enjoys cutting up her old Japanese cardboard boxes – usually snack or stationary boxes – and transforming them into adorable, imaginary characters. Although the boxes are cut-up and reconfigured, Handa always makes a point of leaving something recognizable. Can you identify them all?

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A Grotesque Three-Dimensional Oral Alphabet by Takayuki Ogawa


Oral Alphabet by Takayuki OgawaOral Alphabet by Takayuki Ogawa

Typography and illustration have long been combined to create humorous displays of expression. The French graphic designer Massin, for example, was well-known for his innovative experimentation with typographic forms that often involved animals. But in its latest, rather disturbing iteration, graphic designer Takayuki Ogawa has created “Oral:phabet,” a grotesque, three-dimensional typeface modeled after the mouth, frozen in time while enunciating each letter.

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Studio Visit With Model Maker and Special Effects Designer Makoto Aoki

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unless otherwise noted all photos by kaori sohma. Copyright Spoon & Tamago

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It was about 1 year ago that I found myself at a 4th of July party. It was, you might say, a most un-American party with platters of sushi, vinegar-seasoned rice, vegetables simmered in sweet soy sauce and a dizzying array of Japanese beers and sake. But the most memorable fixture was an elaborate nagashi-somen contraption. It had been fashioned out of several pieces of interlocking bamboo chutes that were cut in half to create aqueducts. A water pump allowed for a continuous flow, which, much like a water slide, carried cold noodles as they zipped through and down the bamboo chutes. (Here’s a photo of it I captured at the time)

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A Travel Library Designed to Inspire Wanderlust

wonderwall hyundai card travel library

If you live in Seoul and love to travel, consider yourself lucky. Japanese design firm Wonderwall just recently completed the Hyundai Card Travel Library. Centrally located in Gangnam, this “stock of curiosity” is a traveler’s dream come true: “a thick accumulation of information, experience, and objects” that includes a floor-to-ceiling bookcase with roughly 15,000 books dedicated to travel, architecture, and photography.

wonderwall hyundai card travel library

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Makoto Azuma Launches Bonsai Into Space


The botanical artist Makoto Azuma (previously) is no ordinary flower arranger. He’s sort of the rock star of the floral world. And I’m not just talking about that time he stomped all over hundreds of flowers during a musical performance. He’s also uprooted bonsai and suspended them in mid-air in a piece titled “Shiki.” Another time he stuffed flowers into glass jars and filled them with water like sardines.

But earlier this week Azuma took his avant-garde floral art a step further by launching his work into the stratosphere. Titled Exbiotanica, Azuma and his crew, along with help from JP Aerospace, launched “Shiki” (a Japanese white pine) and an untitled arrangement of flowers, into space using a helium balloon.


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a gigantic kaleidoscope within a shipping container by Masakazu Shirane

garden kaleidoscope by Masakazu Shirane

garden kaleidoscope by Masakazu Shirane

For the Kobe Biennial’s Art Container Contest, numerous designers were challenged to create an environment with the confines of a standard international shipping container. Designers Masakazu Shirane and Saya Miyazaki decided to create a gigantic kaleidoscope that people could walk inside and experience (sort of like the entrance to Tokyo Plaza).

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Porigami Laser-cut Popup Cards of Sights in Tokyo

Porigami Laser-cut Popup Cards Tokyo

“old Tokyo” around the Yanaka area

Porigami Laser-cut Popup Cards Tokyo

The Kengo Kuma designed tourist information center

Tokyo is a city rich in exciting sights and unique atmospheres. Artists and designers have taken to translate those into a vast array of media: photography, sketches, painting or even sticker art. Her stay in Tokyo inspired Czech designer Tereza Hradilkova to represent the city using paper – a very Japanese medium. The laser-cut creations came to life as a result of a collaboration with Tokyo-based creative producer Kumi Kobayashi, whom she met while in the city.

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The Newly Renovated Ichihara Lakeside Museum


Ichihara Lakeside Museum. Left: before | Right: after

The Ichihara Lakeside Museum is located in the middle of Boso Peninsula; about an hour drive or a 2-hour train ride from central Tokyo. It sits next to the picturesque Takataki Lake, which has plenty of lush greenery, boat rentals, and a bizarre sculpture of an over-sized dragon fly. The museum itself is largely dedicated to the work of Yukio Fukazawa, a self-taught artist who excelled in copper engraving prints; so much so that, in 1963, he was invited by the Mexican government to teach at universities across Mexico. However, there is also a continuous flow of temporary exhibitions featuring a broad range of subjects from print to architecture.

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f,l,o,w,e,r,s | an acrylic ruler embedded with dried flowers for intervals

f,l,o,w,e,r,s flower ruler by norihiko terayama

“If the flowers in the paddy were spaced in equal intervals I could lie down in them and measure my height.” That was the simple, idyllic thought that led designer Norihiko Terayama to create what could very possibly be the single most stunning piece of stationary I have ever come across.

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Our Favorite Japan-Related Instagram Accounts to Follow


These days I find myself clicking on link after link and # after# on Instagram, losing complete track of time. So here are few interesting and breathtaking accounts to follow or just brows through – of course all Japanese/Japan related.

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