japanese art, design and culture
Spoon-Tamago

Posts from — October 2010

happy 250th Katsushika Hokusai

Contrary to expectations for a halloween logo, today Google Japan is quietly celebrating the 250th birthday of acclaimed ukiyo-e painter Katsushika Hokusai.

October 30, 2010   2 Comments

Japan’s Zombie Outbreak Preparedness

Each year, around this time, it’s highly recommended that you review your zombie outbreak preparedness plan – experts say it’s not a matter of if, but when. With a cremation rate of 99.85% (2008 data), Japan and their corpse count, or lack thereof, would seem an ideal place to to ride out a plague of the undead. In the text that follows I would like to analyze the pros and cons of the East vs. the West, so that each of us can make informed decisions regarding our own contingency plans for the impending zombie pandemic.

Japan’s Safety Profile

First, when we model out the spread of a zombie pandemic the most essential question is its origination. If the zombie outbreak first originates outside of Japan, and there are no signs of lengthy incubation periods, an initial assessment of the situation may justly lead many to flee to Japan as soon as possible. With very few corpses lying around in the ground, and an ocean surrounding the country, Japan seems to be ideally positioned as a place to not get your brains chewed out.

However, in an entirely different scenario, where the outbreak occurs in Japan, one can easily imagine the devastating consequences of being in Japan. In a previous essay, Jim Hawe makes some excellent assertions that question the core of Japan’s safety profile.  First of all, the geographic make-up of Japan could be tragically disadvantageous. Densely populated urban areas serve a ideal feeding ground. And very little land to actually run to, coupled with the likely probability that other countries would deny you entry due to fear of contamination, certainly raises questions about Japan’s zombie outbreak preparedness.

The lack of guns and other heavy artillery has served Japan well in maintaing a safe, civil and peaceful society over the years. But, just a equally, this will be a devastating weakness as the unaffected desperately search for means to fend off their attackers. Although popularized as an ideal weapon in the Max Brooks novel “World War Z,” in reality any type of samurai sword would prove much more problematic than one might imagine. “Bladed weapons in general are not ideal because they will inevitably get stuck in things and become dull,” said Matt Mogk, founder and head researcher of Zombie Research Society (ZRS).

Culture Matters: Asian Zombie vs. Western Zombie


the zombie’s asian counterpart, the kyonshi

There is an important component that often gets overlooked when analyzing the fundamental zombie preparedness of Japan. And that is the cultural, and I would argue, genetic, differences between eastern and western zombies. For those who are not familiar, allow me to introduce the kyonshi (殭屍), the Asian zombie. Claiming ancestry in China, the kyonshi (which terrified the sh*t out of me as a child) have several noteworthy characteristics that, I would argue, make them less competitive compared to their Western counterparts.


a priest having successfully sedated and captured kyonshi

Currently the only known way to quiet a zombie is to bash their brains in. This is a task that is difficult as it is gruesome, and only slightly easier if aided by a shotgun. However, kyonshi  can be sedated by tactically placing a small scroll with buddhist inscriptions on the forehead (as pictured above). Also, (and this helps in assisting the first objective) kyonshi are legally blind. They detect human presence from the smell of our breath, making a cornered escape realistically possible by simply holding your breath.

Kyonshi are also known to have hardened joints, rendering their arms and legs inflexible. They mobilize their bodies by hopping, extending their arms in front of them to maintain balance. While this can serve as an initial disadvantage, it is worth pointing out that, over time, their joints are known to soften, allowing them to walk and in some cases even run.


the typical stance of a kyonshi

I’ve tried to lay out the case for Japan’s zombie preparedness, and despite their obvious non-competitive traits, kyonshi should not be taken lightly. As Sun Tzu wrote in “Art of War,” know thy enemy. So store what I am about to dispense in a an easily accessible location. It will undoubtedly serve you well as you seek survival. There is scientific literature that backs up the claim that Kyonshi hate mirrors and being pissed on. So as long as you have your vanity and stay hydrated you have several choices for defense, without resorting to shotguns and crowbars.

Have a happy halloween

(Note: Although Spoon & Tamago considers the above information to be accurate and correct, it should not be relied upon as a sole means for evaluating personal zombie preparedness plans.  Evolution and/or mutation of the zombie virus will always be a variable in said situations. Spoon & Tamago cannot be held liable in any way for any of the said tactics proving ineffective or unimplementable.)

October 29, 2010   Comments Off

Shugo Tokumaru | Lahaha

I’m loving this new music video “Lahaha” from Shugo Tokumaru‘s latest album Port Entropy. It was directed by Chris Magnusson & Marcus Jonsson.

Here is what pitchfork had to say about the album:

Shugo Tokumaru is a freakishly gifted Japanese bedroom-pop artist with an effortless command of hundreds of instruments. Judging from the gentle, whimsical tone of his music, he is also probably one of the sweetest people in the world. The joyful music he creates, however, has extremely limited use– 15 minutes of his manically giddy pop should be enough for anybody. His fifth full-length album, Port Entropy, grows wearying at less than 40. Whether they are employing flutes, woodblocks, chimes, xylophones, accordion, upright piano, or, more likely, all of them at once, every Tokumaru song expresses the same basic sentiment: in a word, “YAY!!”

October 29, 2010   Comments Off

HK Gravity Pearl by Nosigner

Magnets seem to be a trend at the design events in Tokyo this year. During Design Tide Tokyo (10/30 – 11/3) Nosigner will be showcasing his latest design, HK Gravity Pearl.



click images to enlarge

Taking advantage of the collective wealth of knowledge of the artisans of Izumi – the group who first created artificial pearls in Japan – HK (pronounced haku) has produced a most beautiful piece of jewelry. The magnets embedded within the artificial pearls allow it to transform from a necklace to an earring, to a ring and to a broach.

I love how it’s presented in a test tube. It’s not even trying to pretend to be real. So proud of its artificialness!

Related:

October 28, 2010   1 Comment

+d EXHIBITION 2010

To commemorate the start of Tokyo Designers Week, product design label h concept is jumping the gun and holding an exhibition through 11/3 at Light Box Studio Aoyama.

They plan to showcase a series of new products including a 3rd installation of their popular cupmen figurines (rumor has it that the 3rd is a woman), as well as these fun pitacoro rock magnets (840 yen for 5), designed by Senichiro Watanabe.


click images to enlarge

I like how they can be used as a toy (reminds me a bit of the tumi ishi game) as well as for something entirely practical.

But the highlight of the exhibition, without a doubt, is this city of cupmen, constructed out of 30,000 figurines.

Related:

October 28, 2010   Comments Off

The new market | Schatje Design


click images to enlarge

Founded in 2008 by Sachiko Suzuki, Schatje (Dutch for sweetheart) Design is an all-encompassing design team whose portfolio ranges from obscure home accessories to furniture and overall art direction.

At the new market they will be exhibiting, amongst other items, the fascinating “CUP” series. Made from glass, these cups don’t fully reveal their form until a beverage is poured in. Very neat idea!

Related:

October 28, 2010   Comments Off

The new market | Hidetoshi Kuranari

Also exhibiting at the new market is Hidetoshi Kuranari, an employee at an ad agency in Japan. I didn’t know this, but apparently he was behind the “truths only kids can see” project we wrote about on Spoon & Tamago last year. I was a huge fan of the idea so it was nice to learn that the project took home a silver at this year’s Art Director Club awards.


click images to enlarge

But I digress. At the new market Hidetoshi will be showcasing MOON, a stunning light bulb that replicates the look and feel of moonlight. Not only does it  emit the luminance of a full moon on a clear night, it also casts a shadow of the shapes and colors of the moon. And I love the packaging design - beautiful work by Chihiro Konno.

There were only 200 made so hopefully some will be on sale.
How cool would it be to tell your kids bedtime stories under the moon?

October 27, 2010   Comments Off

The new market | Tatsuya Maemura

Running simultaneously with Tokyo Designers Week is “the new market,” a sort-of-renegade standalone exhibition of 35 up and coming artists and designers. Between 10/30 and 11/3 the design “supermarket” will take over 3 floors in the Gotanda Aji building where over 500 original pieces of work will be on view, and for sale.

Consistent with one of our missions of unearthing new talent from Japan, throughout the week we will be showcasing some of our favorites from the group. First up is Tatsuya Maemura, a 30-year old product designer who  obtained his design education in Europe and, just this year, established his own design studio.


Photos by Ayu Kobayashi | click to enlarge

Cork Stool is a steel stool that is completed only when the user recorks the seat (which is actually made from cork)!

Felt envelope is a minimal, elegant case to protect your mac.

I also like the camera case that he made specifically for the Ricoh GR digital, and specifically for Ricoh GR digital users – a breed of photographers, he believes, who have always been captivated by the compactness and stability of the product.

October 26, 2010   Comments Off

Tokyo Designers Week 2010

So it’s almost the end of October! Do you know what that means? Don’t all shout at once but, yes, Tokyo Designers Week. Set to take place from 10/29 to 11/3, the event, which will be celebrating its 25th year, will be hosted at Meiji Jingu Gaien. Although not limited to the below, here are some events you don’t want to miss if you plan on attending:

  • Cool Japan Tokyo-Conference, hosted by Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
  • Designer of the Year & Artist of the Year (the award winners will be present)
  • Parties every night at TDW dome with free booze and food
  • Seminars, Forums and Workshops such as X2 Tokyo & Takram, Bike Film Festival screening, Lidewij Edelkoort of Trend Union
  • Mizuma Art Gallery show “Jalapagos


KONOIKE Tomoko Courtesy Mizuma Art Gallery

Tokyo Designers Week 2010

So it’s almost the end of October! Do you know what that means? Don’t all shout at once but, yes, Tokyo Designer Week. Set to take place from 10/29 to 11/3, the event, which will be celebrating its 25th year, will take place at Meiji Jingu Gaien. Although not limited to the below, here are some events you don’t want to miss if you plan on attending:

-Cool Japan Tokyo-Conference, hosted by Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry

-Designer of the Year & Artist of the Year (the award winners will be present)

-Parties every night at TDW dome with free booze and food

-Seminars, Forums and Workshops such as X2 Tokyo & Takram, Bike Film Festival screening, Lidewij Edelkoort of Trend Union

-Mizuma Art Gallery show “Jalapagos”

October 25, 2010   Comments Off

PythagoraSwitch | ピタゴラスイッチ

Here is something fun for your Friday morning. I came across an 18-min compilation of this awesome kids show that airs on NHK in Japan. I am just as enthralled by the show as my kids. One of my favorite segments is the Pythagorean Devices, known in the US as “Rube Goldberg machines.” Just watch. It’s addictive. Pee-tah-gola-suichi ♪

[Replaying in high quality]

ピタゴラ装置 -1- [アフィリエイト]

The Pythagorean Device segment is used as an opening and closing title sequence for the actual show. They are created by students in a Keio University lab under the wings of creative director Masashi Kawamura (who you may know through his direction of the music video Hibi no Neiro ). A similar chain reaction video by Swiss artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss, in which all sorts of pyrotechnics were used, recently won them a prize. But what I like about the Pythagorean Device versions are that they just use random crap that’s lying around their lab. Their creativity never ceases to amaze me! I wish I had their job.

October 22, 2010   Comments Off