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Photographs of the Handheld Bamboo Fireworks at Gion Matsuri

toyohashi gion matsuri fireworks by hide suzuki (7)

Summer is the season for fireworks and in Japan, tens of thousands of people gather to watch the thunderous sparks light up the warm evening skies. But there’s one fireworks festival that’s not quite like any other: the Gion Matsuri in Toyohashi, which, each year, takes place on the 3rd Friday of July.

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Soy Shape: soy sauce dishes that create 3D optical illusions

soy-shape

“Soy Shapes are soy sauce dipping dishes that take your sushi eating experience and food presentation to the next level.” That’s Duncan Shotton, a Tokyo-based product designer describing his latest, whimsical creation.

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Live in a MUJI House of Windows 2 Years For Free

MUJI kamakura window house lottery (1)

A MUJI House for the price of “on the house”? That’s right. And it comes with MUJI furniture, MUJI cooking ware, MUJI stationary and everything else you would need. Sounds pretty good right? Well, 4 years after offering one lucky family the same deal, our favorite minimalist lifestyle retailer is back with a lottery in which the winner gets to live in a brand new, fully-furnished MUJI Window House (located in Kamakura) for 2 years, for free.

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What Would Cities Look Like if They Were “Tokyo-ized”

Daigo Ishii worldwide tokyo-lization project (NY)

the “Tokyo-lization” of New York

Eiji, the protagonist in David Mitchell’s novel number9dream described Tokyo as “too close up to see.” His experience of the metropolis goes on: “There are no distances and everything is above your head – dentists, kindergartens, dance studios. Even the roads and walkways are up on murky stilts. An evil-twin Venice with all the water drained away.”

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Photos Of the Kumamoto Castle Reconstruction Efforts

kumamoto castle iida gokai yagura (1)

the steel arm built to support the guard tower at risk of imminent collapse

Kumamoto Castle sustained heavy damage during a series of powerful earthquakes that struck Southern Japan in April. Work to repair stone walls and other damaged properties is expected to take several years given the buildings historic significance: it was originally built in the 1400s but reconstructed in 1960. In early June reconstruction efforts began with one of the most time-sensitive projects: restoring the Iidamaru Gokai Yagura, a five-story guard tower that was at risk of imminent collapse.

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A Darker Version of The Little Mermaid Brought to Life by Yayoi Kusama

little-mermaid-yayoi-kusama

The original Little Mermaid was written by Hans Christian Andersen and published in 1837. Since then it was been adapted in various forms with the most popular being the animated Disney film in 1989. It was a cheerful rendition with blissful songs and a happy ending. But now, in the hands of 87-year old Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama, it’s taking a darker turn, returning closer to the original form.

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Music Monday: Suchmos

suchmos

American musician Louis Armstrong’s affectionate nickname Satchmo has gone on to inspire everything from music festivals to restaurants and even an e-commerce framework. But one of its more recent reincarnations can be found in all the way in Japan, in the form of a 6-person band called Suchmos. Formed in 2013 by a group of friends, Suchmos soulfully blends elements of acid jazz and R&B with J-pop to create vintage rhythms layered with punchy pop synth.

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Nigauri: the perfect rentable guesthouse in Uji (Kyoto)

nigauri_051

In the year 1052, Fujiwara no Yorimichi built the Byodo-in Buddhist temple, effectively establishing the City of Uji in the Southern outskirts of Kyoto. 1000 years later, Uji, with its abundance of tea shops and traditional cormorant fishing, continues to be a popular destination. Bringing together everything good about ancient Uji, and putting a modern twist on it, is the Nigauri guesthouse that opened earlier this year in March.

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Puddle: a home in Japan designed to let the rainwater in

Puddle House by Masaki Yoneda (1)

When we build a new home, one of the most important parts of the construction process is keeping rainwater out. Water causes mold and rotting, which can compromise entire foundations of homes. But one family in Japan saw rainwater not as an unwanted intruder but simply a part of life that, when controlled, can bring you and your home closer in-tune with nature.

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An Exhibition of Japanese Portable Record Players

japanese portable record players (top)

all photos by Chika Takami

The 1960s ushered in the golden age of record players as affordability made them a staple in almost every household. In Japan however, quality stereo sets remained unattainable for most, who then gravitated to a smaller, more affordable gadget: the portable record player.

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