A Darker Version of The Little Mermaid Brought to Life by Yayoi Kusama

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The original Little Mermaid was written by Hans Christian Andersen and published in 1837. Since then it was been adapted in various forms with the most popular being the animated Disney film in 1989. It was a cheerful rendition with blissful songs and a happy ending. But now, in the hands of 87-year old Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, it’s taking a darker turn, returning closer to the original form.

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Music Monday: Suchmos

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American musician Louis Armstrong’s affectionate nickname Satchmo has gone on to inspire everything from music festivals to restaurants and even an e-commerce framework. But one of its more recent reincarnations can be found in all the way in Japan, in the form of a 6-person band called Suchmos. Formed in 2013 by a group of friends, Suchmos soulfully blends elements of acid jazz and R&B with J-pop to create vintage rhythms layered with punchy pop synth.

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Nigauri: the perfect rentable guesthouse in Uji (Kyoto)

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In the year 1052, Fujiwara no Yorimichi built the Byodo-in Buddhist temple, effectively establishing the City of Uji in the Southern outskirts of Kyoto. 1000 years later, Uji, with its abundance of tea shops and traditional cormorant fishing, continues to be a popular destination. Bringing together everything good about ancient Uji, and putting a modern twist on it, is the Nigauri guesthouse that opened earlier this year in March.

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Puddle: a home in Japan designed to let the rainwater in

Puddle House by Masaki Yoneda (1)

When we build a new home, one of the most important parts of the construction process is keeping rainwater out. Water causes mold and rotting, which can compromise entire foundations of homes. But one family in Japan saw rainwater not as an unwanted intruder but simply a part of life that, when controlled, can bring you and your home closer in-tune with nature.

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An Exhibition of Japanese Portable Record Players

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all photos by Chika Takami

The 1960s ushered in the golden age of record players as affordability made them a staple in almost every household. In Japan however, quality stereo sets remained unattainable for most, who then gravitated to a smaller, more affordable gadget: the portable record player.

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Fascinating Historic Photos of Japan’s Wartime Acoustic Locators

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the “Type 90 Large Air Sound Detector” being inspected by Emperor Hirohito (LIFE Magazine, 1936)

Acoustic location is the technology of identifying the location of objects by detecting sound waves they emit. It was quickly adopted by the military in the early 1900s as a way of locating aircrafts and submarines.

Despite being short-lived – the technology was quickly made obsolete by the development of radars – the contraptions, which typically involved large horns connected to the operator’s ears, made for some surreal imagery.

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Shinya Kato Breathes New Life Into Historic Cabinet Cards

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Cabinet Cards were a style of portrait photography used in the late 1800s. They typically measured about 4 x 6 inches: large enough to be viewed from across a room when displayed in a cabinet, which is probably why it got that name.

For New York-based artist Shinya Kato, these sepia-toned cards, and the anonymous people of the past captured in the frame, offered a mysterious allure.

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Japanese and Swiss Craftsmanship Come Together to Create the Beautiful Arita-Yaki Wristwatch

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Japanese Arita-yaki ware, also known as Imari porcelain, can be traced back to the year 1616 when an immigrant Korean potter discovered Kaolinite (the main component of porcelain) and set up kilns in Kyushu, which began producing blue and white porcelain. Today, Arita-yaki is is characterized by its intricate cobalt blue and red glazes, which contrast nicely with the translucent whiteness of the clay. The timelessness of Arita-yaki, now celebrating its 400th birthday, is being honored in a unique and entirely appropriate way: through beautiful Swiss timepieces.

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Music Monday: Sakanaction

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Sakanaction is a Japanese rock band formed in 2005 around and fronted by Ichiro Yamaguchi. He’s joined by the rather rare combination of 2 females and 2 males. The band’s name is a portmanteau of the words sakana, meaning fish – chosen also for the words rarity in band names – and action.

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Surreal Acrylic Paintings by Takumi Kama Imagine Animals as Bonsai

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“Giant Tortoise Bonsai” by Takumi Kama

A twisted pine tree emerges from a mound of moss, which is actually the shell of a giant tortoise. Couples of birds and frogs sit on the branches while deer and elephants poke their head around the foot of the tree. The tortoise itself grows from a bowl, which sits in the middle of a miniature city. The entire piece, rests on a cabinet, just like any indoor bonsai plant might.

The idyllic, almost Noah’s arc-like settings, are part of a new series of acrylic paintings by Japanese artist Takumi Kama.

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