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Music Monday: Sakanaction

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Sakanaction is a Japanese rock band formed in 2005 around and fronted by Ichiro Yamaguchi. He’s joined by the rather rare combination of 2 females and 2 males. The band’s name is a portmanteau of the words sakana, meaning fish – chosen also for the words rarity in band names – and action.

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Surreal Acrylic Paintings by Takumi Kama Imagine Animals as Bonsai

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“Giant Tortoise Bonsai” by Takumi Kama

A twisted pine tree emerges from a mound of moss, which is actually the shell of a giant tortoise. Couples of birds and frogs sit on the branches while deer and elephants poke their head around the foot of the tree. The tortoise itself grows from a bowl, which sits in the middle of a miniature city. The entire piece, rests on a cabinet, just like any indoor bonsai plant might.

The idyllic, almost Noah’s arc-like settings, are part of a new series of acrylic paintings by Japanese artist Takumi Kama.

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Outsu House: An Ode to Comfiness

outsu house in shiga by alts design (1)

When it comes to sustainable living, there is no universal definition of comfort. Cultural and historical factors are pivotal in determining the way different people might experience comfort in the home from airiness and brightness to even temperatures. For one couple in Japan, a “comfy house” became a keyword as they discussed plans for a new home with their architect.

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Log Road Daikanyama: a retail park where train tracks once ran

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all photos by Daici Ano | click to enlarge

In 2013, a section of the Tokyu Toyoko Line that runs between Shibuya and neighboring Daikanyama Station was moved from above ground to underground. Miraculously, the feat of Japanese engineering happened overnight, with 1200 technicians working tirelessly, in tandem, to ensure that by the next morning trains would be running. In dense and crowded Tokyo, any reclaimed land is of great value. And Tokyu Corporation had big plans for the 3200 sq m (10500 sq ft) of land where their tracks once ran.

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Imaginary Camouflaged Leaf Insects Painted by Takumi Kama

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an imaginary leaf insect: the Hide-mushi

To avoid becoming prey, leaf insects use mimicry to blend into their surroundings. But in Takumi Kama’s imagined future, when the insect’s natural environment has been completely destroyed, these masters of camouflage will have no choice but to move in with those who took away their home.

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Photographer Capture’s Kawau Birds Perched on Electric Wires in Tokyo

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The Kawau are large seabirds, not unlike seagulls, that were pushed to the brink of extinction in Japan in the 1970s due to pollution. But in recent years they’ve come back – with a vengeance. Estimates now put the population of Kawau in Japan at as many as 150,000 and last year they were responsible for over 10 billion yen (about $100 million) in damages to the fishing industry because of their voracious appetite for eel and ayu (sweetfish). Recently, the Japanese government even approved the use of drones to stem Kawau population growth and keep them away from fish farms.

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Music Monday: androp

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Androp is a Japanese rock band formed around frontman Takahiro Uchisawa. Their name, intended to be ambiguous and meaningless, is a portmanteau of the words “and” and “drop.” But there is nothing ambiguous about the group’s music. Rather, they create meticulous, calculated sounds with an emphasis on artistic music videos and performances that have won over wide ranges of fans.

Their calculated style extends even to the naming of their albums, a plot 6 year in the making: the first letter of their past 6 albums spells out the band’s name (anew, note, door, relight, one and zero, period).

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San Grams: A Third Wave Green Tea Shop and Cafe

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While some may sneer at the third wave coffee movement, a generation of independent coffee roasters motivated to enhance the experience of coffee, it’s here to stay. They offer a higher quality coffee with emphasis on everything from beans to preparation and consumers are buying it.

Now, what could be called the third wave green tea movement is taking foot. And it’s happening in the heart of Japan’s green tea industry of Shizuoka, where, just about 1 year ago, a new green tea specialty shop and cafe called San Grams opened.

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Hanging Animal Furoshiki

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A fun and adorable, contemporary twist on the furoshiki (風呂敷), a traditional wrapping cloth that’s been around in Japan since the 700s. With a few simple folds these unique furoshiki transform into a carrier that resembles hanging animals that will transport your stuff anywhere!

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The Surreal Levitating Air Bonsai Are Now Available

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Back in January of this year the Hoshinchu team released a fascinating product: the air bonsai. It was a levitating plant propelled into the air with a magnetic force, creating a surreal, magical bonsai. The Kyushu-based company was looking for funding on kickstarter, and they got it. The Air Bonsai surpassed everyone’s expectations and raised close to 1 million dollars.

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