The field of architecture, especially in Japan, is notorious for long hours. It’s expected – obvious, almost – to work till late at night. “It was the same with us,” says Taku Hibino, lead architect of Hibino Sekkei. “Most of our staff would work until 12 midnight.” The times are changing though, and companies and workers alike are thinking more about work-life balances. But old habits die hard, which is what led Hibino to realize that he might be able to effect real changes in behavior through food. That thinking led to the establishment of the 2343 Restaurant.
Japanese retailing giant UNIQLO opened their Ariake offices back in 2015 but the warehouse was plagued with problems and inefficiencies. So the company committed to overhaul the warehouse, which was unveiled last week. The result, in which 90% of the warehouse workforce was replaced by robots, is equally beautiful and terrifying.
Beginning on November 1, 2018, Tokyo-based railway operator Keio Corporation will begin rolling out trains on the Keio Line, as well as the Toei Shinjuku Line, that are fully decked-out in Hello Kitty. That means full-on pink, rainbows, flowers, and of course all your favorite Hello Kitty characters will adorn the exterior of the trains. They’ve even created custom-designed Hello Kitty caution stickers to be adhered to the doors.
dense pen drawings of Ginza by Nobumasa Takahashi (click to enlarge)
Japanese artist Nobumasa Takahashi has created a series of dense, pen drawings of Ginza that merge fantasy and reality. Each piece draws on Ginza’s unique culture and history such as its back streets, its high-end shopping and its legacy as a hub for newspaper printing.
Accidents will happen. Mistakes will be made. It’s an unavoidable part of life. But what’s important is how we reflect on those mistakes and learn from them. Japan’s train industry, responsible for transporting millions of people each day, understandably takes safety very seriously. And their introspection and dedication to not repeating the past was on full display recently when JR East, one of the country’s major passenger railway companies, unveiled the new expansion to their “Exhibition Hall of Historical Accidents” (事故の歴史展示館).
Last weekend will forever be known as The Great Fish Market Migration of 2018. At least that’s what we’re calling it. On the afternoon of October 6, 2018, Tokyo’s Tsukiji Fish Market held its final tuna auction and the market was shuttered, officially ushering in the end of an era. However, the work was far from over. As soon as their customers had vacated the premises, workers quickly began preparing to move to the new Toyosu location, a feat that involves relocating all their supplies and equipment 2.3 km (1.4 mi) away, before the new market opens for business on October 11.
An empty Shinjuku Station | all photographs by Umeda
Shinjuku Station in Tokyo gets used by an astounding 3.8 million people per day. That’s almost the entire population of Los Angeles! So stumbling upon an empty Shinjuku Station or Shibuya Station, even in the middle of the night, is a rare occurrence. But last weekend, as the powerful Typhoon Trami moved through Tokyo, transportation operators were forced to shut down services and residents were advised to stay home.
Twenty six-year old Miyu Kojima works for a company that cleans up after kodokushi (孤独死) or lonely deaths: a Japanese phenomenon of people dying alone and remaining undiscovered for a long period of time. The instances first began to be reported around 2000, and are thought to be a product of increased social isolation coupled with a greying population.
Part art therapy and part public service campaign, Kojima spends a large portion of her free time recreating detailed miniature replicas of the rooms she has cleaned. A word of caution: although recreated without the corpses, some of the replicas can be quite disturbing.
the farewell ceremony for actress Kirin Kiki took place on September 30, 2018 | photo courtesy sankei news
Last weekend, at the farewell ceremony for the late actress Kirin Kiki, a large display of white flowers, designed to look like a wave, greeted the constant flow of family members, fans and celebrities that had come to pay their respects, and to say farewell to the 75-year old who had passed away from cancer on September 15. The white wave of flowers was comprised of roughly 1200 chrysanthemums, orchids, and gypsophila (an ornamental flower known as baby’s-breath in the West).
Cleaning up vomit is “one of the toughest tasks,” says a company official from JR East, one of Japan’s largest passenger railways. But drunken passenger vomit, referred to in such euphemisms as nokoshimono, or leftovers, is a major problem for railway employees. Most of us look forward to Friday, weekends and New Year’s holidays, but the number of instances skyrocket during these times. So to keep employee morale up, Japanese railways company’s are constantly trying to innovate vomit sanitation.