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A 110-Year Old Kyoto Canvas Bag Maker Looks Abroad


In 1853 Commodore Matthew Perry steamed four warships into the bay at Edo and demanded that Japan open trade with the West. In the same year Kihee Ichizawa was fatefully born. Perhaps a function of the times, Ichizawa grew up loving new things. He wore western clothing, started a band, opened a laundromat and, in 1905, bought an expensive sewing machine and made shirts and bags. That was the beginning of Ichizawa Hanpu, a Kyoto-based canvas bag maker that is celebrating its 110th birthday. And the party is coming to New York.

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15 Years and 800 Pieces of Art at the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale

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Chiyoko Todaka (Japan),
Yamanaka Zutsumi Spiral Works, 2006. Photo by Hisao Ogose

Every three years in Japan an exciting event kicks off; one that invites visitors to enjoy the great outdoors while simultaneously visiting the largest art gallery in the world. For 50 days, visitors to the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennale traverse 200 villages across roughly 190,000 acres of mountainous terrain located in Niigata, Japan. The entire land is dotted with site-specific artworks created by 160 artists from all over the world, making it the largest, most ambitious art festival in the world. And each piece is united by a single theme: humans are part of nature.

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You are The Plastic Ono Band

To check out her album Take Me To the Land of Hell on iTunes, click here.

Not all rumours are true.

Growing up, the general consensus was that Yoko Ono was the woman who had interrupted one of the greatest musical movements. For many years, the press and the public published scathing commentary on Ono’s public and private decisions. She was criticized for influencing Lennon’s musical choices and her experimental artwork was derided by the greater public.

While rumoured to have broken up the Beatles, Ono isn’t just a heart-breaker, and Lennon’s wife, but a renowned artist on her own, with her own band and groundbreaking art practice.

Since her retrospective at the Whitney Museum in 1989, and a recent retrospective “One Woman Show” at MoMa in September 2015, public opinion of Ono has broadened into an appreciation of the contributions her avant-garde artwork has made towards feminism, human rights, and world peace.

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House on Awaji Island by IZUE Architects


Awaji Island, located in the Seto Inland Sea of Japan, is renowned for its bountiful flowers, sandy beaches, and aromatic incense. The island boasts relaxing hot springs, sandy beaches, the world’s longest suspension bridge, and a fish market where you can stop and nibble on delectably fresh octopus dumplings. Who wouldn’t want to live on this island paradise?

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Simple Living: MUJI Will Begin Selling Huts Starting at Just $25,000

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Enjoy simple pleasures. That, in essence, is the idea behind Japanese minimal retailer MUJI’s new project: MUJI HUT. Unveiled during this week’s Tokyo Design Week, the concept seeks to provide people with the very basics – a roof over their head – to do the things that city life sometimes doesn’t allow.

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An Architectural Installation of 30,000 Post-It Notes by Yo Shimada

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all photos by Yousuke Takeda | click to enlarge

People will always find creative uses for unconventional materials. And post-it notes have long been a favorite for their bright colors and adhesive surfaces, which help create 2-dimensional canvases. But architect Yo Shimada focused on post-it notes and their adhesives layering from an entirely different perspective. By connecting 4 sheets together at their adhesive areas Shimada created a star-shaped 3-dimensional object that was both structural and repetitive.

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From Comedy to Art: 20 Years of Inspiration for Noritake Kinashi

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”Where I dream” (2015) by Noritake Kinashi. Acrylic on woodboard.

According to the artist Takashi Murakami, the most respectable artist in Japan is the comedian. That would place Noritake Kinashi (or Nori-san, as he’s affectionately referred to on TV and by the general public), at the top of the artistic pyramid. As one part of the comedic duo Tunnels, Nori-san has had a successful television career and has been one of Japan’s most beloved comedic voices over the past 30 years.

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Kenya Hara Unveils Rejected 2020 Tokyo Olympics Logo Proposal

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Kenya Hara’s proposal for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics logo. The rings of the Olympics symbol and and Tokyo 2020 have been obscured to avoid copyright claims

In September the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Committee announced that they would scrap Kenjiro Sano’s logo amid plagiarism claims and redo the entire process. But when they did that they also effectively scrapped the other 103 proposals, each created by professionals who spent a decent amount of time and resources perfecting their concept.

Now, renowned designer and one of the foremost faces of Japanese design, Kenya Hara, is speaking out. And in doing so, he has released his proposal from the Hara Design Institute.

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The Bamboo Grove Office: Mamiya Shinichi’s New Design Studio

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all images by Toshiyuki Yano | click to enlarge

If big American businesses like Google, Amazon, and Yahoo have invested in insane offices for their employees, how can the modern Japanese office compare?

With sparse elegance, seamlessness, and an incredibly postmodern aesthetic all neatly tied together, of course. Meet Mamiya Shinichi Design Studio’s new office space, called Pillar Grove, in Nagoya City.

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Instagram Accounts for Lovers of Haikyo: Japanese Spooky & Decaying Places

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In our world full of man-made structures there’s no shortage of decaying, decrepit urban spaces. And the inherent dangers and legalities of infiltrating these spaces have increasingly enticed explores. Terms used to describe the hobby are as plentiful as the sites themselves: there’s the abbreviated urbex the less-tasteful but humorous ruin porn and in Japan there’s haikyo. Written as 廃墟 the term literally means “ruins” and is used to describe abandoned infrastructure but is also synonymous with the practice of urban exploration.

Here are a few instagrammers you can follow who beautifully and sometimes creepily document Japan’s haikyo. Do you have any suggestions? Tell us in the comments!

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