japanese art, design and culture

Posts from — May 2009

meanwhile, in the literary world…

pn2009052701000776-ci00032 new notable books are being released. First is the long-awaited 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, occasional New Yorker contributor and perhaps the most famous contemporary Japanese author in the U.S.  It was released on May 27th and no word on when the English translation will arrive. But if you are interested, sources tell me that there is some liveblogging of the reading going on as we speak.


Next is Drop by Koji Suzuki, author of horror-story Ring, which was adapted into a movie. The upcoming June 6th release is getting a lot of attention, not so much because of the magnitude of the event but because of the packaging. It’s being packaged as a roll of toilet paper and is being marketed as “Koji Suzuki’s bathroom-reading horror novel Drop.” Awesome…. and yes, I know what you’re thinking. If you don’t like it when you’re done you can wipe your ass with it. Pre-order it for about $2 HERE.



via mycom journal via crunchgear

May 28, 2009   3 Comments

knit cap cup 2009


Knit Cap Cup is back for their 3rd year! If you didn’t get in last year this is your chance to shine. It’s a contest open to anyone and you get to design your own knit cap. Looks like they added a scarf to the lineup this year. However you do need an address in Japan to enter. If you have that, this is how it works.

  1. Fill out the entry form
  2. Receive an e-mail that has your entry number and a design template (.bmp file)
  3. Go to town on your template!
  4. Send it in by e-mail. Entry is about $40 but you will receive your own original cap.
  5. In about 1 month your knit cap arrives in the mail
  6. In October every entry will go on sale on their website.
  7. You get 50% of the profits.

Your own originally designed knit cap for $40 plus the chance to pocket some extra cash? What do you have to lose?

May 27, 2009   1 Comment

Kurosawa digital archive just blew my mind

This is going to be a slightly nerdy post but I was so excited when, just yesterday, Kyoto’s Ryukoku University unveiled a digital archive of legendary Japanese director Akira Kurosawa. Consisting of over 20,000 photographs, manuscripts, notes and other artifacts, this is easily the most extensive database of memorabilia related to the director and his work, as well as a fascinating look behind the scenes.

The interface is surprisingly user-friendly, however it’s completely in Japanese. But if you are able to recognize some movie titles in Japanese you may be able to navigate around.

Check out these images from the set of The Seven Samurai

…and this one from Rashomon

…and these of Kurosawa in New York walking around Rockefeller Center! Right where I work!! AAHHH!



via Mainichi Daily News

May 27, 2009   4 Comments

kotori shoehorn

This shoe-horn is absolutely stunning. But it would never work in my house. My son would wack it down in an instant!
The Kotori (small bird) Shoehorn was designed by Kaichiro Yamada and was recently commercialized by h-concept.

You can purchase it here for about $50!


May 26, 2009   9 Comments

Sushi Menu Book

What a  long-awaited iPhone app! The new Sushi Menu Book (iTunes) would be so helpful when you’re sitting at the counter of a posh sushi joint. If you’ve ever been to one of these places you’ll know that they never have menus. Gone are the days of ordering the osusume (ie: whatever the chef wants you to eat).

Released by Rightning Inc, the app is based on this book, which retails for about $13, into this app, which you can download for $4.


May 26, 2009   Comments Off

Ryuji Nakamura’s Hechima Chair & Insect Cage

Speaking of Ryuji Nakamura, his Hechima Chair (2008) and Insect Cage (2007) were featured in the eco & art 2009 exhibit jointly sponsored by Konica and PEN, and dubbed ideas that would save the planet.

The Insect Cage was made using a method know as rapid prototyping to create super thin grid lines (0.3mm to be exact). And as you can obviously see, this would not be a good home for your award-winning rare ant collection.

The structure plays tricks on ones distance perspective because the captured insect can disappear depending on one’s angle of view. But at the same time it creates a certain proximity that traditional glass of resin-based cages don’t afford.

The Hechima Chair is actually made out of paper (vulcanized fibre) and shares the light, airy characteristics of the Insect Cage.


May 21, 2009   6 Comments

les halles de saison sage

Known for his highly minimal yet decorative style, Ryuji Nakamura, in his latest work, decorated an entire private wedding hall with stainless steel flowers. Pretty!

May 21, 2009   2 Comments

ICFF 2009 Japan booth

I wasn’t able to make it to ICFF this year but design*sponge does a good job covering it if you are interested. They even have a post dedicated to the Japan booth, which is worth checking out. One notable entry is this beautiful humidifier by Japanese paper artist Miyuki Yoshida.

The “Misty Garden” comes in a porcelain dish and the leaves, which double as water filters, are a  conduit for dispersion, releasing into the air 15 x more than the amount of moisture created from leaving a cup of water out. Another perk is that it requires zero energy! You just water it like you were watering a plant. It was created for Mikuni Corp and is slated to go on sale July 10.

Also on display are these exquisitely designed chopsticks by Mikiya Kobayashi, who’s Tate Otama I profiled a few weeks ago.

May 20, 2009   2 Comments

From ONE Sheet

I’ve suddenly become very interested in product and furniture design by architects. Their designs are distinctly different and represent an architectural and structural approach. In addition to the flower vase I posted yesterday, take this recently designed chair by Naruse Inokuma Architects. It was made out of a single slab of wood, which was then cut and bent. You can even check out the blueprints here!

May 20, 2009   2 Comments

my friend needs your help

My friend paulene just made this really cute video for Action on Climate Change (in collaboration with the Cannes Film Festival). She’s trying to get as many hits as possible. Check out the video!

May 19, 2009   Comments Off