Masahiro Minami was kind enough to send over images of “Chonmage Yookan“, a design that took first place in the recent Tokyo Midtown Awards. Judged by Japan’s design elite (Kenya Hara, Manabu Mizuno, et al.) as having perfectly blended humor with regular yet astute design, the piece shined over its 1300 peers in the “New Gifts from Japan”-themed competition.
Indulge me as I try and awkwardly articulate the genius behind Minami’s design. In this case, “gifts” often refer to apologetic peace offerings that husbands bring home to their wives after late soirees of boozing. To define the terminology, chonmage is a topknot of hair, one of the most significant ornaments of the samurai and represents honor and esteem. However, the cut-off chonmage, used as a motif in the images above, reflects the downfall of the old samurai and the absence of the pride and honor that supported him. Yookan is like sweet bean jello and is popular as a choice for gift giving. Combine the two and you have an apologetic gift that represents the submissive retraction of honor, an act that is sure to smooth the nerves of any enraged wife.