Shokkiri: The Comedy Routine that Portrays Illegal Sumo Moves

Sumo wrestling is a Japanese sport that, in its current form, dates back to the 16th century. Steeped in history and tradition, the sport is highly ritualistic and parts are often associated with Shintoism. However, just because it’s old doesn’t mean it lacks a sense of humor. In fact, there is an entire ritual called Shokkiri (初切 or 初っ切り) dedicated to making crowds laugh.

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Toshizo Hirose’s Stamps Highlight the Unique Charms of Japan’s Public Bath Houses

What better reprieve is there from the hustle and bustle of Japanese city life than a trip to the local public bath house (sento)? Such is the focus of Toshizo Hirose, who has made it his life’s work to depict the unique characteristics of bath houses all across Japan in an equally unique medium: stamps.

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Music Monday: Glim Spanky

Remi Matsuo and Hiroki Kamemoto of Glim Spanky

For anyone who spent time in Japan in the late 90s and early 2000s and was exposed to the raspy, grungy sounds of the band Love Psychedelico, you’ll most certainly find comfort in Glim Spanky. Hailing from Nagano, the duo is led by 26-year old vocalist Remi Matsuo and joined by guitarist Hiroki Kamemoto.

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Japan to Build 350-Meter Wooden Skyscraper

the W350 wooden skyscraper aims to be completed in 2041

Despite being a sustainable resource that can be harvested from perennials, the use of wood in cities and high-rises has long been avoided. Wood has been thought of as structurally unsafe, susceptible to rotting, and flammable. But thanks to advances in technology that has enabled the engineering of mega-strong, fire-resistant timber, wood is now slowly returning to urban settings. And Japan is raising the bar – quite literally – when it comes to using wood to construct skyscrapers.

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The Birds of Tokyo Beautifully Illustrated by Ryo Takemasa

Last year the commercial complex Tokyo Midtown invited illustrator Ryo Takemasa to illustrate some of the most common birds in Tokyo. By teaming up with graphic design studio Tawarasha, they created a wonderful little pamphlet of 25 of the most common birds of Japan’s capital. They’re all there, from the common swallow and turtle dove to the beautiful great egret and annoying large-billed crow.

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Photographs of Transparent Acrylic Perfectly Sandwiched Between Stacked Stones

Born in 1989, Takuma Sato is a Japanese photographer who studied architecture in school. His work tends to be highly conceptual and his approach to photography is one that highlights the architectural relationship between objects.

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Green Tea-Inspired Hotels Coming to Tokyo

Hotel Koe (left) opening 2/9/2018 and Hotel 1899 (right) opening 12/1/2018

In recent years green tea has appeared to follow the very same trajectory as coffee from 1st wave and 2nd wave to now 3rd wave. For better or for worse, green tea is no longer considered an old person’s beverage. It’s hip, it’s healthy and it’s everywhere. Cafes in Japan (and all over the world, for that matter) have been the first to capitalize on this trend. Take for example, San Grams, which opened in 2016, and then the world’s first hand-dripped tea café, which opened in 2017. This year, Tokyo will see two different green tea-inspired hotels opening in Tokyo.

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8-Bit Mini Puppy by Shinji Murakami

Inspired by the ancient yet versatile 8-bit technology, NY-based Japanese artist Shinji Murakami has been creating works that harken back to the original Dragon Quest, Zelda and other video games of his childhood. So it’s not surprising that much of his work takes after the nostalgic, 8-bit aesthetic of pixelated bumpiness.

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Japanese Plumber Creates Handmade Waterfall of Ice in His Backyard

all photos sourced from Google Maps

For the past 7 years, Toru Matsui, a plumber who lives in the mountainous Inabucho town of Aichi prefecture, has taken on an ambitious annual art project. Each winter, as temperatures fall and tourists begin to dwindle, Matsui’s artwork becomes a beacon of light that encourages visitors to travel out to his neck of the woods to see his waterfall of ice.

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Architectural Sculptures Made from Dandelion Fluff by Yusuke Aonuma

all photos courtesy Yusuke Aonuma

One would be hard-pressed to find a more delicate material to create art from. But for Japanese artist Yusuke Aonuma, single dandelion fluff, the feathery, umbrella-like structure that carries the seed to faraway lands, captivated his creative mind.

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