Oki Sato’s Designer Desk For Manga Artist Yusei Matsui

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designer Oki Sato (left) and manga artist Yusei Matsui (right)

“I love manga,” exclaimed Oki Sato, the head of design firm Nendo, who relies on Japanese comics to keep himself entertained on long flights as he travels all over the world meeting clients. Sato went on to explain that design and manga actually have a lot in common: the overly-extravagant is difficult to relate to. Instead, the ordinary, everyday is much easier to become attached to.

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Genius Masking Tape Turns Any Notebook Into a Calendar

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In what can only be called the most brilliant use of masking tape ever, a Japanese stationary store has come out with rolls of tape that turn any notebook into a calendar or planner.

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Lightgazing | Japan’s Best Illumination Spots of 2016

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It’s that time of year again. When Japan lights up with “illumination” spectacles all around the country. The word illumination is Japan’s term for using numerous holiday bulbs to light up streets, gardens or other public spaces. The special events get a lot of attention and are always heavily attended. If you’re looking to participate, we’ve got you covered from North to South with  some of this year’s not-to-miss illumination shows.

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Of Love & Law: The Story of Japan’s first LGBT Law Firm

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Filmmaker Hikaru Toda is working on an intriguing documentary about Fumi & Kazu, who run the first openly gay law firm in Japan. Passionate about justice, the lawyers “know all too well the realities of being different in a homogenous society.” And while the documentary revolves around the duo, like any legal matter the story is in their clients.

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Manabu Ikeda Unveils a Monumental Pen & Ink Drawing Nearly 3.5 Years in the Making

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The 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan was one of the most devastating environmental events of our time, with its overall impact rippling across the globe for years to come. But just as stated in Newton’s third law—for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction—so too did the people of Japan respond to the magnitude of the destruction in an effort to rebuild their country anew as captured in this staggering new artwork by Manabu Ikeda titled Rebirth. Starting in July of 2013, Ikeda toiled away on the 13 x 10 foot piece for 10 hours a day inside a basement studio at the Chazen Museum of Art in Madison, Wisconsin. He finished work just last week.

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Bujinga Sumi-e Portraits of Star Wars Characters by Masayuki Kojo

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Bujinga is a very specific Japanese art form that evolved in the Kamakura period. Bujin (武人) means warrior and ga (画) is painting. And so the bujinga portraits were depictions of samurai warriors intended to capture the legacy of the brave and pass them on to future generations.  In a contemporary iteration, bujinga artist Masayuki Kojo captures characters from Star Wars, creating versions of Darth Vadar and the Storm Troopers like never seen before.

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Using Augmented Reality to Make Hachiko Meet-Ups Not Terrible

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Shibuya Station | all photos courtesy Teruaki Tsubokura

It’s perhaps Tokyo’s most-well-known and popular meet-up spot. The loyal akita dog Hachiko, who was memorialized as a bronze statue, now stands outside Shibuya station where it waited for its beloved owner to return. But as media artist Teruaki Tsubokura points out, its fame is also its detriment: there’s only one Hachiko for the thousands of people who meet up there every day.

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The Book & Bed Hostel Opens a 2nd Location in Kyoto

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Book & Bed is a self-described “accommodation bookshop” with beds built into bookshelves. When the first Tokyo location opened last year, bibliophiles were obviously overjoyed because, for the first time, it was socially acceptable to wander into a bookshop, pick up a book, and then doze off to sleep. Now, the popular concept hotel is getting a 2nd location in Kyoto.

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Famicon Stationery Lets Adult Gamers Relive Their Childhood

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Although I never considered myself a huge gamer, the Famicon certainly occupied a large presence in my childhood memories from growing up in Japan. Even the frustrating blows of air into the cassettes to get them to work properly, and that annoying double-pronged wire that hooked up behind the television, are now fond memories. So I was pretty excited when I saw that stationary company San-Ei was releasing a line of items inspired by the 1980s video game console.

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8 Ukiyo-e That Show How Fun Snow Was in Edo Period Japan

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Yesterday, Tokyo woke up to their first November snow in over 50 years. The last time the first snowfall, called hatsuyuki (初雪) occurred in November was in 1962. But at the time it didn’t even stick. So if you go back to the first accumulation of snow, Tokyo truly hasn’t seen anything like this since records began in 1875. So for a city with typically dry winters, there was understandably a lot of flurry and frenzy in the air.

So we thought it would be fun to take a look at some ukiyo-e that illustrate what snowfall was like in Edo-period Japan (1603-1868).

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