the cover of the 1st issue of Shukan Anpo published in June of 1969
The Beheiren (previously) was a Japanese activist group formed in 1965 to protest Japanese involvement in the Vietnam War. In 1969 they started their own periodical called Shukan Anpo (Weekly Anpo). It managed to reach a significant number of students and intellectuals, rallying a group of new-leftists who were dissatisfied with policies and programs at the time. Shukan Anpo generally consisted of several longform essays, reports on other political movements in the U.S. and around the world, photo-journalistic reports on incidents around Japan and political cartoons.
“Spoon Tamago” written in Tokyo 2020 font (our only complaint is the ampersand wasn’t available)
The logo for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics was revealed 2 weeks ago, on the date that marked exactly 5 years to the opening ceremony. And while you certainly can’t please everyone, we loved it and felt the general consensus was a thumbs up as well. Now, Japanese programmer Mitsuhide Matsuda has created a font generator that lets you type out words and even phrases using a font based on the original logo design.
a cake-shaped merry-go-round is the centerpiece at the new Kawaii Monster Cafe in Tokyo
If Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is the reigning queen of Japanese kawaii culture, then the king is undoubtedly Sebastian Masuda. Having founded his 6% DOKIDOKI shop in Harajuku almost 20 years ago, it wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that Masuda was largely responsible for the cultivation and subsequent rise of Kyary herself.
Despite overseeing megahits like PONPONPON and Fashion Monster as art director, the colorful success has largely been attributed to Kyary. But in recent months Masuda has seeked greater presence and recognition, first with an art show in NYC last year, a site-specific installation (currently ongoing) and now a new café in Tokyo.
The swatting of futons being aired out on the balcony. The gentle pitter-patter of rain that falls onto ceramic tile roofs. The chiming crossing gates that holds traffic as trains pass by. If you’ve spent time in Japan these are simply, to borrow from David Foster Wallace, the banal platitudes of everyday life.
They’re some of the most obvious realities that are equally some of the most difficult to see, unless we are reminded of them. Perfectly capturing some these moments, and thereby reminding us how real, beautiful and essential they are, is illustrator Yuuta Toyoi.
“Lunch With a Helmet On” (1987) made from forks, spoons and knives
We wrote about graphic designer Shigeo Fukuda last month but there was a side of him, one that’s rare amongst graphic designers, that we didn’t get to discuss. When he wasn’t creating posters for social and environmental causes, Fukuda applied his visual wit and allusion to a series of assemblages constructed from what could only be construed as trash.
His 1987 piece “Lunch with a Helmet On” is made from hundreds of forks, knives and spoons. But when a light is cast onto the sculpture at just the right angle, a shadow of a motorcycle is cast onto floor, revealing the assemblages true intent.
photos by Shunsuke Shiinoki | click to enlarge
There are some places where flowers just weren’t meant to grow. Harsh environments like the stratosphere, where freezing temperatures and atomic oxygen permits only basic life forms to survive. But artist Makoto Azuma has taken it upon himself to create colorful bouquets of flowers in “environments where nature does not allow them to exist.”
His ongoing project, which he’s titled “In Bloom,” is now in its second iteration. And this time around Azuma and his staff traveled to the Hinoba-an Sea in the Philippines where they created a 13-foot flower bouquet made from 10,000 flowers and floated it in the middle of the ocean.
all photos by Shinkenchiku-sha
As if being a small island nation wasn’t enough, 73% of Japan’s land is occupied by uninhabitable mountainous regions. So flat land obviously comes at a premium. But one architect has now gone where others have tend to shy away: into the sloping side of a mountain. Completed earlier this year, Greendo is an undulating 7-unit residential building that’s been carefully inserted into the side of mountain in a town in Takamatsu City, Japan.
“8 Cranes” | leaflets strewn across the street, transformed into paper cranes. Click images to enlarge
If you’re walking down the street and you see a bunch of leaflets strewn across the ground but they’ve been meticulously folded into paper cranes, it’s not the work of a fairy. There’s a good chance you’ve stumbled upon the work of artist Misa Sawairi.
Inspired by her environment, and the different places her feet carries her, the Tokyo-based artist creates whimsical, site-specific installations by subtly altering her surroundings and then photographing them. The results are then juxtaposed in a series of “before and after” shots.
the check-in counter at Henn-na Hotel is staffed by 3 different robots
In Japan there’s now a hotel you can stay in without ever having to deal with another human being. Instead, robot attendants – a miniature, a humanoid and a dinosaur – will greet you and check you into your room. A robotic arm will store luggage for you in lockers while a fully motorized and computerized luggage cart will help you carry your suitcase to your room. This is Henn-na Hotel (literally, ‘Strange Hotel’), a new lodging facility that opened in Nagasaki, Japan.
Depending on which side of the art critique spectrum you stand on, Takashi Murakami is either a boon to contemporary Japanese art or a blight and disease that is ruining otaku culture. But say what you will, there’s one undeniable fact: he’s one of the most commercially successful artists Japan has ever exported. And now, after 14 years, he’s returning to Japan for a large-scale solo exhibition.