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Japan’s Government-Approved Public Toilets


the cover of a brochure released by the Japanese government, showing exemplary public toilets

It’s no secret that Japan has been a leader in the toilet industry, introducing cutting-edge designs and technology: everything from heated seats and rear-cleansing/drying washlets to deodorization. And this type of toilet devotion extends to public toilets too. In fact, the Japanese government even awards a highly coveted Toilet of the Year Award to spaces deemed worthy. After all, the government estimates that in our lifetime we spend up to 11 months in a bathroom. So why shouldn’t they be spaces that are clean, soothing and relaxing?

So, officials created a pamphlet (PDF) of public toilets they deemed exemplary, and distributed it earlier this year in hopes of elevating the entire public toilet industry. Here are a selection of government-approved public toilets.

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Islands, Constellations and Galapagos: the Yokohama Triennale 2017


With just about 10 months to go before the 2017 Yokohama Triennale begins, organizers have announced the concept and key visuals to the show. 2017 will mark the 150th anniversary of Taisei Hokan, the formal restoration of political authority to the Emperor, and signaled the end of Japan’s isolationist policy, which eventually led to Yokohama being the first port to open up to the west. With that historical backdrop, the theme for next year’s show will be “Islands, Constellations and Galapagos.”

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Paper Vases Inspired by Squid Sashimi


Plastic bottles are ubiquitous in our day-to-day lives. So instead of throwing them out, why not extend their lives by transforming them into beautiful vases? Kami no tsubo (literally, paper vase) is a flat-pack sheet with narrow slits, allowing it to bulge into a 3-dimensional shape. And, oddly enough, its unique form was inspired by squid sashimi.

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Video of Futagami Brass Products Emerging from Earth and Fire


Futagami is brass foundry located in Toyama Prefecture that dates back to 1897. With help from designer Oji Masanori, several years ago they revamped their product lineup to create graceful, tactile home objects that emphasize the qualities of brass, and how it develops a rich patina over time due to the oxidization process.

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Giveaway: Two Pairs of Tickets to Miss Hokusai Premier (NYC)

Miss Hokusai, the animated film about the daughter of famed ukiyo-e artist Katsushika Hokusai, is premiering at the Angelica Film Center in New York City on Thursday October 13. And we’re super excited to be able to partner with the distributor GKIDS to offer our readers two pairs of tickets.

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Nishiki-koi: a brand of sake inspired by an age old fraud


Nishiki-koi: a brand of sake inspired by an age old fraud

Back in the days when Japanese sake was delivered in barrels, rice was a precious commodity. And so was the sake that was made from this rice. In order to maximize profits, breweries would water down their sake before they delivered them to sake shops. And, in turn, sake shops would also water down their stock before selling it to consumers.

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Music Monday: Hi-Standard


members of the Japanese punk rock band Hi-Standard

Fans of Japanese legendary punk rock band Hi-Standard were shocked when, just last week, the band announced that their 16-year hiatus was coming to an end. And the unexpected announcement came just one day before the band was planning to release a new single: another starting line.

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Sakura Pencils Create Shavings That Look Like Cherry Blossom Petals


Perhaps it’s too late (or too early?) to be thinking about cherry blossoms. But for one Japanese company, it’s been a year and a half journey developing this unique and beautiful cherry blossom pencil. Typically, pencils are hexagon-shaped. But with the help of a decades-old pencil factory in Tokyo, this sakura-shaped pencil has finally blossomed.

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Animated GIFs Illustrating the Art of Japanese Wood Joinery


Japanese wood joinery dates back to the seventh century and is a craftsmanship technique that involves complicated, interlocking wooden joints that form bonds without the use of nails, screws or adhesives. Even until recent times when carpentry books began to be published, mastery of these woodworking techniques remained the fiercely guarded secret of family carpentry guilds.

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Panorella Turns Your 360° Photos Into Umbrellas


By now you’ve surely seen those cool-looking fish-eye lens photos on Instagram. They’re usually taken from elevated heights, or beautiful surroundings (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, try the #theta or #insta360 hashtags). These are 360-degree photos, not to be mistaken with panorama photos, that can be captured using spherical video cameras. Some can even be attached to your smartphone.

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