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Explore Japan’s Setouchi Region in Their New Travel-Themed Train

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all images courtesy Daikoku Design Intitute

La Malle de Bois is, in fact, the name of a new Japanese train that began traversing the rails of the Setouchi region this April. French for “wooden suitcase,” the travel-themed train connects Okayama to Uno Station, one of the gateways to Naoshima, Teshima and many other Setouchi art islands. And get this – it’s one of the only trains that has designated bicycle storage.

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Vagina Artist Megumi Igarashi’s English Memoir

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the book cover of Megumi Igarashi’s newly translated memoir, designed by Chip Kidd

Two years ago Japanese artist Megumi Igarashi, who goes by the name Rokudenashiko, was arrested for violating Japanese obscenity laws after she distributed 3D data of her genitals. Today, after a long and public battle, she was fined 400K yen (about $3800). Let’s help her cover those fines by purchasing her memoir, newly translated into English and available tomorrow, May 10.

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Japanese Temporary Tattoos to Detect Soba Allergies

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Two months ago at an event near Koyo-tei, one by the oldest soba restaurants in Sapporo, temporary tattoos were handed out to foreign tourists visiting the region. But these weren’t any old temporary tattoos. Incorporating traditional Japanese motifs and designs, they were developed in collaboration with a dermatologist to detect soba (buckwheat noodle) allergies.

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Aerial Drone Photos of Cherry Blossoms at Inokashira Koen

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all photos © Danilo Dungo

Inokashira Koen, the sprawling park in Tokyo’s Western suburb of Kichijoji, was my backyard. Having grown up in the area, I spent countless days after school and weekends exploring the park on bicycle or on foot. There always seemed to be a section that had been magically added; that I hadn’t discovered yet.

The park was known for many things: a lake and rowboats associated with an urban legend that predicted couples who rowed together would break up, a grisly murder, and – for a short week in late March – a multitude of cherry trees whose blossoms turned the park white and pink.

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Setouchi Aonagi: Tadao Ando’s Latest Addition to Japan’s Art Islands

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The Setouchi Triennale is perhaps Japan’s most successful art festival. A clear message and gorgeous backdrop, combined with island hopping and fine art, has brought millions of tourists from both Japan and abroad to the Setouchi islands. And if there’s an individual whose stamp is most visible throughout the islands it’s probably architect Tadao Ando. His signature style of minimal concrete buildings form numerous hotels and museums, which helps add consistency to the entire experience. His latest addition is the Setouchi Aonagi, a small luxury hotel with only 7 rooms that opened earlier this year.

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House Tour: Yoyogi Artist Studio (with a hidden bed)

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all photos courtesy K-NARF

After almost two years in Nakameguro, the Tokyo-based French photographer K-NARF recently relocated to Yoyogi. Located in an 7-floor building from the late 60s, the artist created a unique, versatile space that functions as artist studio by day and apartment by night. Here’s a peek inside…

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Artless Craft Tea & Coffee

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all images courtesy artless craft tea & coffee

This month a new café opened in Harajuku. Artless Craft Tea & Coffee is located on a quiet backstreet – a road so small most cars can’t fit down – just a 10 min walk from Harajuku Station. It’s operated by Artless, the Tokyo-based design and branding agency headed by Shun Kawakami. The space, which became fully operational on May 1, represents an interesting trend: design agencies opening their own cafes.

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Flower Vases Made From Repurposed Wormy Wood

Flower Vases Made From Repurposed Wormy Wood

At Oyama Lumber in Toyama Prefecture, Japan, every year a large portion of wood goes unused. It’s left in a pile to rot, or turned into sawdust, both of which seemed incredibly wasteful. The wood’s only fault was that it had fallen victim to Japan’s ambrosia beetle, which feeds on wood.

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Aquarium Ferns Grow Inside an Air Bubble Within This Radical Fish Tank

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Conventional aquarist knowledge has held that the water goes inside the fish tank, air is around it and everyone is happy. That’s just the way it is. But Japanese designer Haruka Misawa has completely turned that logic upside down to create one of the most beautiful fish tanks we’ve ever seen.

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Music Monday: Ego Wrappin’

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Ego Wrappin’ has been around for a long time. I discovered them in college in the early 2000s but they go back to 1996, which means that this year they’re celebrating their 20th anniversary. For those who don’t know them, Ego Wrappin’ are a duo originally from Osaka: Yoshie Nakano and Masaki Mori. Nakano’s deep, soulful vocals and Mori’s dexterous instrumentation create a unique sound that blends elements of jazz, ska, swing but also cabaret music from Japan’s Showa-era that will at once sound nostalgic and modern at the same time.

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