Category — Events
Lady Gaga was in Japan earlier this month to promote her new album Artpop. The promotional tour included TV performances, a Yahoo Japan website decked out in Lady Gaga (live through 12/25) and, of course, anatomically correct humanoid dolls of herself.
The state-of-the-art dolls came about from a rare collaboration between a sex toy manufacturer (Orient Industries) and creative agency PARTY. A video created by the team to show how the dolls were made is fantastic. It’s like the trailer for a sadistic horror film.
And now that Gaga has left Japan, the dolls are sitting around doing nothing, just waiting for you to call them up. The website recently added a new “booking” section where you can apply for one of the dolls to come to your “television, magazine, or other event. They can even be displayed at museums or public schools,” says the website.
December 9, 2013 No Comments
Product designer Oji Masanori is someone I’ve been following from very early in his career. The elegant, functional designs he produces for artisan manufacturers like Takahashi Kogei and Jicon embody, what I consider to be, ideal contemporary Japanese design.
I’m really excited that Oji-san is in NYC right now, preparing for a solo exhibition of his work. The event, titled Yukari, is hosted by the great folks over at Nalata Nalata and is part of a larger pop-up shop that will run through Dec 24. Oji-san will be on site tomorrow to talk about his work. Won’t you join me?
• Opening Reception: (Meet Oji Masanori): Nov 15, 7:30PM – 10: 00PM
• Venue: 2 Extra Place, New York, NY (Manhattan) – GMAP
• Nearest transit: F (2nd Ave), 6 (Bleeker), BDF (Broadway Lafayette)
November 14, 2013 No Comments
It’s interesting to compare the empty lots that Yasuyuki Takagi has been exploring and documenting. “Nature has always been elusive and very attractive to me,” says the Japanese photographer. “The natural world of forests, rivers, desserts, and wild animals was something I craved. It seems endless and life too short to see it all.” In a series of photographs taken in Yakushima, a remote island south of Kyushu, Takagi captures an ancient community of tree trunks covered in moss. It’s an island impervious to time, but brings the passage of it to the forefront. In a sense, the chaos of the serenity is much like that of a large city.
Relocating to one of the world’s largest, ever-expanding cities: New York, the photographer’s current home. In a sort of parallel series titled “brooklyn lot recordings,” Takagi captures overgrown empty lots in Brooklyn. The haunting photographs are made all the more powerful by their transience – their ability to capture time. “Weeds grew tall, the sounds of the East River gurgled through an abandoned dock… I turned around and photographed a wall. There it was; a shot of a torn wall, a faded graffiti tag, and weeds growing up through the snow,” says Takagi, describing the scene. “It is all gone now.”
Yasuyuki Takagi will be displaying his series of empty Brooklyn lots at Bushwick gallery Lorimoto in an exhibition opening tomorrow, Saturday Sept 28, 2013 (6-9pm). “Front Line” will be on display at Lorimoto through October 27th.
September 27, 2013 Comments Off
If you’ve never attended a PechaKucha Talk, the global phenomenon that originated in Tokyo and now in over 680 cities, this would be a good time to start. Next Friday (September 20, 2013) the team is hosting a big “PechaKucha Global Night.” Over 100 cities will be participating so go online and see if your city is. And even if it’s not, they’re teaming up with Google Hangouts to do a global chat that will run for close to 20 hours, connecting with organizers around the world.
It “will essentially be a ‘telethon’ linking up with all the cities taking part,” says co-founder Mark Dytham. “Anyone can drop in and see what’s happening at any given time during the event.”
The theme will be “Hidden Heros.” If you’re in Tokyo you’ll see, amongst others, designer/architect Keiji Ashizawa highlight the amazing artisans who help him produce the products he designs. You’ll also see Luis Mendo, PechaKucha’s design director, talk about the “hidden heroes” he has been noticing in Tokyo since his recent move there, using his lovely illustration style.
September 11, 2013 Comments Off
“The moment I met eyes with Tama, I was immediately struck with an image of Tama as station master”
In Kinokawa City (Wakayama, Japan) there’s a peculiar train station manned by Tama, a peculiar station master. And “manned” is certainly not the right word because Tama is a cat. And Kishi Station is perhaps the only station in the world where work has been outsourced to our feline friends.
The cat’s tale begins in 2003 when a small railroad company, struggling to stay afloat, was consolidated with another railroad company forming Wakayama Electric Railway. One victim of this consolidation was a small cat shelter that was eventually told to vacate the premises in order to make way for new roads leading to train stations. In 2006, the old woman who had looked after the cats approached the president of the railway after an opening ceremony with a desperate plea: to let the cats, who were now facing eviction, live inside the station.
“The moment I met eyes with Tama, I was immediately struck with an image of Tama as station master,” recalls Mitsunobu Kojima, of the sudden revelation that would come to transform his railway. Although Kojima had generally been a dog person, he saw Tama as a maneki-neko (literally, beckoning cat), a Japanese lucky charm in the motif of a cat and thought to bring good business. Tama did not disappoint.
News of the feline station master was quickly picked up by the press and spread like wildfire. A train line that had been seeing annual decreases in ridership by over 5% suddenly saw a 10% jump in just the first year. The following year in 2008 an article published by Sankei News estimated that an increase in ridership, revenue from memorabilia like photobooks, commercial appearances, as well as a tourism boom was responsible for a combined economic impact of 1.1 billion yen.
For her hard work and dedication, in 2008 Tama was promoted to Super Station Master. She was given a brand new window office, a hat with gold lining and a badge. Tama’s annual compensation package includes 1 years’ worth of cat food.
Tama starring in an Aflac commercial
This post is part of week-long series on trains in Japan. The complete series can be found here.
August 13, 2013 Comments Off
In Japan it’s been a long-standing tradition to escape from the summer hotness by bringing on the chills. And one of the most popular ways is to have the shit heat scared out of you is to head to a haunted house, many of which are only open during the summer. This year we’re rounding up some of our favorites that offer, well, let’s just say a different kind of horror.
Gokiburi Combinato’s Haunted House for Adults
Part performance art, park shock art and all parts weird, Gokiburi Combinato (abbreviated Gokicon) promise a spectacle unlike any other. But this is one show you’ll want to leave the kids at home for. Gokicon are known for incorporating nudity, fetishes and sadistic tendencies into their bizarre performances. And at 1500 yen, it’s the most expensive on our list.
(PS you’ll want to wear clothes that you won’t mind getting dirty)
Dates: June 22-25, 2013
Time: 4pm-7pm (Jue 23 from 1pm)
Venue: Vanilla Gallery
Price: 1500 yen
ghosts, underpants and stars
For a special haunted house exhibition just for kids, the Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo is putting a moratorium on the 3 rules they typically enforce on their little visitors: no running, no touching, no playing. The exhibition will be designed by Torafu Architects and will be centered around Sakurako Hamaguchi’s “Ghost, Underpants and Stars” (オバケとパンツとお星さま) and other kid-friendly artwork.
According to the curators, ghosts represent creativity and curiosity, underpants represents the growth process (ie: graduating from diapers) and stars represent fantasy. Together, they make up 3 keywords that tickle a child’s imagination.
Dates: June 29- September 8, 2013 (closed Mondays)
Venue: Museum of Contemporary Art Tokyo
Price: 1000 yen general admission
The Haunted School
The Daiba Haunted School is based on an urban legend about a student who committed suicide. The school was then plagued by odd disturbances and disappearances, eventually getting shut down. The haunted house has been the target of criticism due to its portrayal of suicide for entertainment purposes. But the production agency has countered by saying they donate a portion of their profits to an anti-suicide hotline.
Dates: all year
Venue: Odaiba Seaside Mall 4F
Price: 800 yen general admission
A Real Life Silent Hill
If abandoned schools don’t creep you out enough, perhaps abandoned hospitals. The Hyper Horror Maze (超・戦慄迷宮) at amusement park Fujikyu Highland is known as Japan largest, scariest horror house. The 50-minute experience once held the record for world’s largest, but has since lost that title by 5 min to a haunted house in Texas.
How scary is it exactly? The ride advises visitors not to enter alone for safety reasons and to instead go in groups. 20% of all visitors are unable to complete the maze and “escape” through one of the several emergency exits.
Dates: all year
Time: park hours
Venue: Fujikyu Highland
Price: 500 yen (the all-day pass does not grant you access)
June 17, 2013 Comments Off
Last week we held our te+te: New Handmade exhibition in Brooklyn. Thanks to all for coming out and special thanks to the terrific group of artists who participated, making it a truly fantastic show: Noriko Kuresumi, Wasara, Takeshi Miyakawa, Nao Matsumoto, Kenzo Minami and Kaori Sohma.
May 29, 2013 Comments Off
10,000 feet above sea – five months straight – four years in a row. For 600 days Yu Yamauchi lived in a hut near the summit of Mt. Fuji, getting up while it was still dark to photograph the sunrise every day, from the same location. The resulting series, titled “DAWN,” is a stunning look at the colorful, sometimes abstract view of Earth waking up.
This space, “above the clouds,” exists far from the ground where we live our daily lives. It is also a space between the earth and the universe. Being there simply reminds me of the fact that we live on the earth which is a planet within an infinite space of the universe.
What’s perhaps most striking about the series is the variability. Not a single picture looks the same. And yet, each day the sun, rising from the same spot, repeats itself.
This post originally appeared October, 2012. It is part of a series of posts on Mt. Fuji. The entire series can be found HERE.
May 21, 2013 1 Comment
Until 1868 women weren’t allowed to climb Mt. Fuji
A 1000 yen view
Mt. Fuji, as it appears on Japan’s 1000 yen note, is a view from Lake Motosu and is based on a photograph by Koyo Okada, in which he captured Mt. Fuji’s upside down reflection in the lake.
During WWII there was a plan to paint Mt. Fuji red
Although this is somewhat of a rumor, during WWII the CIA briefly considered dropping buckets of red paint on Mt. Fuji as a form of psychological warfare to degrade Japan’s morale. However, a more thorough analysis revealed that it would require 12 tons of paint and roughly 30,000 B29 planes to carry all the paint and the plan was quickly dropped.
The summit of Mt Fuji is not in any prefecture.
Although the mountain itself sits on the boundary between Shizuoka and Yamanashi prefectures, a 1974 Supreme Court ruling stated that all land above station 8 (roughly 400 m2) belongs to a sacred shrine.
In 2008 a Mt. Fuji license plate was released
Due to popular demand, and in an attempt to stimulate the local economy, Shizuoka prefecture created a Mt. Fuji license plate in 2008. It’s available in 6 different districts and has become a collectable for Mt. Fuji aficionados.
Novel transforms Mt. Fuji forest into a hotbed for suicides
Seicho Matsumoto’s 1960 novel “Tower of Waves” (波の塔) detailed the love affair of a woman and prosecutor up until their untimely death at the end when they commit suicide in Aokigahara forest. The deep “sea of trees” had long been associated with spirits but in 1974 a women hung herself with the book, kicking off a sad and terrible spree.
Here’s a good 20-minute documentary about a man who walks the forest trying to prevent people from taking their lives.
There were once plans to build a high speed tunnel to the summit of Mt Fuji
In the 1960s Fuji Kyuko had plans to bore a tunnel through the south-west side of the mountain with a cable car that would take you to the summit in just under 13 minutes. Although the plan was shot down by conservationists, they did have a catchy slogan: to the summit of Mt. Fuji and back in heels.
Little did they know that more than 50 years later Teva would release stiletto high heels for hiking.
Debussy’s La Mer (the sea) was inspired by Mt. Fuji
Claude Debussy’s brilliant orchestral work, La Mer, is so free of traditions and influences that its modernity can still be felt today. Equally timeless was its inspiration, which is said to have come from the compelling force of the contrast between the wave and the mountain in Katsushika Hokusai’s The Great Wave at Kanagawa.
This is a series of posts on Mt. Fuji. All posts can be found HERE.
May 20, 2013 Comments Off
This year you can submit entries in 3 categories: Toys, Greeting Cards or Party Wear.
Anything goes, as long as it can be engraved or cut using a laser cutter and you can submit entries starting today through July 15th. There’s a lot at stake including cash prizes and a chance to have your idea sold at FabCafe.
May 15, 2013 Comments Off