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Photographing The Story of Japanese Textiles

photograph by Shinya Sato

On display right in Tokyo is an exhibition of photographs that survey Japan’s landscape of textile traditions. From Kyo-yuzen and Echigo-jofu to Oshima-tsumugi and Benibana-zome, techniques and their corresponding geographies are the subject of the exhibition.

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Ink Paintings by Tokugawa Iemitsu Casts Different Light on Ruthless Leader

Tokugawa Iemitsu was the 3rd Shogun of the Tokugawa dynasty. As grandson of Tokugawa Ieyasu, he ruled Japan from 1623 – 1651 and was known as a ruthless commander who crucified Christians, forced his younger brother to commit suicide, expelled Europeans and closed off Japan from the rest of the world in what became known as sakoku, which lasted for 200 years. As an artist though, his suibokuga, or ink paintings, show him in different, perhaps meeker, light.

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Japanese Designer New Year’s Cards of 2019

Happy New Year! We hope everyone had a peaceful start to 2019. We kicked off the year of the boar by getting sick, which was hopefully the last illness of this year. And it’s delayed us from publishing some of our favorite Japanese designer New Year’s cards, or nengajo, as they’re called. We’ve got gifs, miniatures and traditional illustrations but there’s one thing these cards all have in common: boar!

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Kirie Octopus Cut From a Single Piece of Paper by Masayo Fukuda

all photos courtesy Masayo Fukuda

Kirie (切り絵, literally ‘cut picture’) is the Japanese art of paper-cutting. Variations of kirie can be found in cultures around the world but the Japanese version is said to be derived from religious ceremonies and can be traced back to around the AD 700s. In its most conventional form, negative space is cut from a single sheet of white paper and then contrasted against a black background to reveal a rendering. Veteran kirie artist Masayo Fukuda has been practicing the art form for 25 years and recently revealed what she says is her greatest masterpiece of 2018.

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Tokyo’s Best Designer Christmas Trees of 2018

If you’re doing some last-minute Christmas shopping in Tokyo, try and swing by some of these locations where you’ll find the best seasonal yet unorthodox designer Christmas trees.

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Bunkitsu: the New Bookstore in Tokyo That Has a Cover Charge

the entrance to Bunkitsu, a new book store in Tokyo

Bookstores are becoming an endangered species. And yet we love them so much. So what do we do? What is the right business model for a bookstore? Bunkitsu, which opened this month in Tokyo, has an answer: a cover charge.

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Spoon & Tamago’s Most Popular Posts of 2018

As we wind down our 11th (!) year of blogging, we embark on the annual exercise of ranking our most popular posts based on viewership. It’s always fun and interesting to see what captivated readers the most and looking at the top 10, at times it almost feels like a review of Japan’s news in general. News tends to be sad and depressing, especially these days, but we hope that we’ve been able add a little bit of beauty into your daily lives by delivering stories about Japan through an art & design lens.

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Half a Century in the Making: Tree ‘Crop Circles’ Emerge in Japan

the two tree ‘crop circles’ | photo courtesy Sankei News

Two peculiar ‘crop circles’ have recently been spotted in Japan’s Miyazaki Prefecture. Viewable only from above, they were formed by sugi (Japanese cedar) trees.

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Hokusai’s ‘Great Wave’ Emerges on a Giant Building Facade

Hokusai’s “The Great Wave off Kanagawa”

Katsushika Hokusai’s “The Great Wave off Kanagawa” is perhaps on of the most iconic images that Japan has ever exported. And it’s now emerged as a giant mural on the facade of a new development in Moscow.

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The Tabletop Gas Burner Gets a Modern Redesign

If you’re a fan of sitting around hot pots during the winter, you’re probably familiar with the tabletop gas burner. Bulky and ugly, it’s a necessary evil that delivers portable flames to any tabletop. But this redesigned gas burner us unlike anything we’ve ever seen.

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