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Music Monday: Special Favorite Music

Special Favorite Music is a 7-piece Japanese indie band that blends elements of folk and bluegrass (and sometimes even soul and R&B) to create upbeat pop. If you’ve got a soft spot for big band sound, Special Favorite Music is a great way to kick off Monday.

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Clever Packaging Design For Japanese Maekake Aprons

Maekake are a type of Japanese apron that, for hundreds of years, have been favored by the working men and women of rice shops, sake shops, miso shops and other stores that dot Japan’s many shopping streets. They’re typically made from indigo-dyed cotton canvas and feature a thick belt that wraps all the way around the waist and then tied in the front.

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Photos of Japanese Playground Equipment at Night by Kito Fujio

Daijuuji Park in Aichi (Map)

In 2005 Kito Fujio quit his job as an office worker and became a freelance photographer. And for the last 12 years he’s been exploring various overlooked pockets of Japan like the rooftops of department stores, which typically have games and rides to entertain children while their parents are shopping. More recently, he’s taken notice of the many interesting cement-molded play equipment that dots playgrounds around Japan.

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Keep Cool This Summer With the Komorebi Uchiwa

Komorebi (木漏れ日) is one of those uniquely untranslatable Japanese words. It means “sunlight filtering through the tree leaves” and embodies a poetic appreciation for nature and its changing seasons. Capturing that aesthetic, and embedding it into a beautiful handheld fan (uchiwa), is designer Kotoko Hirata, who created the Komorebi Uchiwa.

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T-Kimono: Scandinavian Style Meets Japanese Traditional Clothing

For years Westerners have experimented with wearing traditional Japanese clothing like the kimono and jinbei. The results have, at best, been mixed. Let’s just say that it takes a certain type of non-Japanese man or women to wear a kimono without looking out of place. I for one, have never even felt the urge to try, that is until my recent encounter with the T-Kimono.

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How Far Will You Go? An Exhibition of Grand Projects at 21_21 Design Sight

They did what? That’s right: they made a walkable floating pier from 100,000 sq meters of fabric; they’re building a church that’s 1.35 meters wide and 45 meters high; they made a cave entirely out of tape; they made an inflatable concert hall; he spent 96 hours creating a mural from mud. These are just some of the dynamic projects by Japanese and international artists that have been assembled for an ambitious exhibition at Tokyo’s 21_21 Design Sight.

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World’s First Tatami-Style Starbucks to Open in Kyoto

a noren curtain hangs outside the new Kyoto Starbucks location

Starbucks first international market outside of North America began in Tokyo in 1996 and now with 1,100 stores across the country, Japan is Starbucks 4th largest market globally. Now, after 21 years, they’re opening the world’s first tatami-style Starbucks in Kyoto on June 30, 2017.

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A 160-Year Old Sake Brewery Gets a New Addition

Located in the middle of rice fields and situated at the foot of Mt. Sefuri in the Itoshima area of Fukuoka is the Shiraito Sake Brewery. Founded in 1855, the company is known for their ancient technique of haneki-shibori, which applies much less pressure than machine-pressed sake and crates a more pure and mellow flavor.

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Handmade Storybook Cookies Made From Natural Dyes

all photos courtesy okashinokobito

Anyone who questions baking as an art form should look no further than the cookies made by Okashi no Kobito. Professional cookie artist Nobuyo Toyono began this enterprise creating edible masterpieces out of Osaka after graduating from confectionery vocational school (yes, there is such a thing). Using all-natural ingredients, Toyono designs, bakes, and ices each and every cookie by hand.

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Ribbonesia’s Animal and Plant Life Created Entirely by Ribbon

If you’re wrapping a gift or a present in Japan, surely you’re familiar with the multi-layered art of packaging. Maybe you begin with cellophane, move on tissue, transition to wrapping paper and, before you place it in the special gift bag you apply a decorative ribbon. It’s this “familiar but unessential” material, the ribbon, that caught the eyes of creatives Baku Maeda and Toru Yoshikawa, who went on to form their company Ribbonesia.

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