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The French Paintings of Balthus As Seen Through The Japanese Lens of Hisaji Hara

hisaji hara balthus

A Study of “The Window”, 2010. All of Hara’s recreations are given the title: “A Study of [Original Title]”

When the Tate Gallery asked French painter Balthasar Klossowski aka Balthus for an opening statement to his own retrospective he provided the following: “The best way of starting is to say that Balthus is a painter about whom we know nothing. And now, let us look at his paintings.”

Such is the nature of the enigmatic artist and perhaps one of the reasons the Japanese photographer Hisaji Hara has become obsessed with him to the point of dedicating his own career to photographically reenacting many of Balthus’s paintings.

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A Residence and Dental Office Stacked Like Building Blocks

kunihiko matsuba nagasawa dental clinic (1)

Nagasawa Dental Clinic in Hachioji by Kunihiko Matsuba |Photos byTaishi Hirokawa

“The buildings look like a set of building blocks piled up to the brink of collapsing,” says architect Kunihiko Matsuba. But of course they don’t. The Nagasawa Dental Clinic in Hachioji is Matsuba’s latest work and is consistent with his firm’s aesthetic of creating “architecture that feels strange.” And strange it is. When it opened late last year in the Western suburb of Tokyo several residents who drove by had to make a u-turn to come back for a 2nd look.

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Kakumei-teki himote doumei: the revolutionary grouping of men that women are not attracted to


members of kakuhido staging protests | click to enlarge

On February 14th, Kakumei-teki himote doumei (革命的非モテ同盟) — literally, “Revolutionary Alliance of Men That Woman Are Not Attracted To”– will gather in Shibuya, an area of Tokyo popular with young couples, to protest Valentine’s Day and its roots in what they call “romantic capitalist oppression.”

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Shining A Light On The Mysterious Work of Enigmatic Artist Jiro Takamatsu

takamatsu jiro mysteries at momat

“Takamatsu Jiro: Mysteries” All images are copyrighted and rights reserved ©The Estate of Jiro Takamatsu, Courtesy of Yumiko Chiba Associates. Photos by Daici Ano

If you’re going to jump into post-war Japanese art, Jiro Takamatsu is both the best and worst place to start. While highly influential, the Japanese artist, who combined elements of Dadaism, Surrealism and Minimalism, created works that were conceptual – often cerebral – to the point of turning you off. As part of the collective Hi Red Center, Takamatsu flung the contents of a suitcase off the rooftop of a famous ikebana school’s headquarters. The artist was also charged with counterfeiting – he was subsequently found guilty – for creating one-sided reproductions of a thousand yen note.

On display through March 1, 2015, A new exhibition at Momat (The National Museum of Modern Art Tokyo) hopes to shine a light, quite literally at times, on this enigmatic artist.

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Mountain Coffee Dripper

mountain coffee dripper

The new Blue Bottle in Tokyo officially opened their doors today. So it feels only right that we, too, unveil our new coffee product: the Mountain Coffee Dripper. It’s the perfect device for brewing a great cup of coffee for yourself, and maybe one other?

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bamboo copTer mobile breathes new life into a nostalgic toy

bamboo copTer-01

bamboo copters are the motif for Shunsuke Umiyama’s latest design

If you spent anytime growing up in Japan as a child you most certainly played with bamboo-copters, or taketombo. Invented in China thousands of years ago, the simple wooden toy, which catapults into the air simply by spinning the shaft between your hands, was an astonishing object of imagination. Japanese designer Shunsuke Umiyama has recently incorporated this nostalgic toy into a mobile.

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Introducing: Spoon & Tamago Kids

spoon & tamago kids

baby pants made from original textiles (from left to right): Grass, Nightly Clouds, Messy Clouds and Leaf

For years now my wife, the better half of Spoon & Tamago, has been making kids clothes. She’s primarily  been selling them at craft fairs around New York. But now we’re bringing her operation under the same roof and are making her designs available through our shop.

Spoon & Tamago Kids is a line of chic, hand-crafted kids clothes made by Tomomi (designer, working in Brooklyn) and Nobuko (textile designer, working in SF). Their aesthetic is hard to pin down. It’s very abstract and, at times, celestial. Check it out for yourself if you like!

Hypothetical Tokyo Ghibli Land Created by Japanese Illustrator TAKUMI

tokyo ghibli land

Tokyo Ghibli Land illustrated by TAKUMI | click to enlarge

Could you imagine a place more magical than Disney Land? The answer, arguably, is yes. And a Japanese illustrator who goes simply by the name TAKUMI has done exactly that. He’s created an illustrated version of Tokyo Ghibli Land, a hypothetical amusement park that incorporates rides and attractions all based on the beloved Ghibli films.

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New Blue Bottle Coffee in Kiyosumi, Tokyo Designed by Jo Nagasaka

blue bottle kiyosumi tokyo

The new Blue Bottle Coffee shop in Kiyosumi; their 1st overseas location | image courtesy schemata architects

It’s no secret that James Freeman, inspired by Tokyo and its kissaten coffee culture, decided to establish Blue Bottle Coffee. So it seemed like only a matter of time before the well-funded Oakland, California based roaster expanded to Japan.

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Japan Reimagines Their Ogres as Strong, Agile and Sexy

smart setsubun

Today, February 3rd, is Setsubun (literally, seasonal division) and is the day before the beginning of Spring in Japan. It’s also the day when grownups dress up as ogres known as oni and children gleefully throw soybeans at them as a way of ridding their homes of bad luck and bad spirits. The part of the oni is almost always played by the father of the household, a typically overweight, under exercised male who is laughably easy to defeat.

Taking aim at this stereotype is Otsuka Pharmaceuticals, the maker of, amongst other things, soy-based products like Soy Joy and Soy Carat.

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