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Household Objects Made From Ordinary Foods Cast in Brass

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Apple slices, onion slivers and stems. These are all foods commonly found in almost any house. So common, in fact, that we don’t see them as anything else. But designers Yusuke Komatsu and Yukitoshi Toda saw them as something else: a gift of beauty from mother nature herself. The duo decided to replicate these forms from pure brass, and finishing them off with a distressed look. There’s certainly something humorous about elevating something that normally gets thrown out in the trash.

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Scenes From Japan’s Jimi “Mundane” Halloween Contest

In 2014, a subculture emerged in Japan called jimi halloween (地味ハロウィン), or “mundane Halloween.” It was started by a group of adults at Daily Portal Z who “kind of wanted to participate in the festivities of Halloween, but were too embarrassed to go all out in witch or zombie costumes.” So instead of the flashy and flamboyant costumes they had been seeing gain popularity in Japan, they decided to dress up in mundane, everyday costumes. The type of costumes that you have to explain to people and then they say, ooooh I get it.

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Japanese Temples are Combating Child Poverty by Distributing Devotional Offerings

Otera Oyatsu Club (“Temple Snack Club”)

In Japan, roughly 1 in 7 children are living in relative poverty. That’s roughly 2.8 million children. And the dark side of relative poverty, as opposed to absolute poverty, is that it’s not immediately obvious to society. So when a 28-year old mother and her 3-year old son died of starvation in Osaka in 2013, it shocked the nation. Many were saddened by the news but one decided to do something about it. His name was Seirou Matsushima and he was a Buddhist priest.

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Miniature Gardens Inside the Drainage of Japanese Retaining Walls

all photos by @sakanakudo

In hilly and mountainous Japan, retaining walls are a common sight. As the name implies, they’re designed to retain soil to a slope and keep it from spilling into streets and other areas that us humans use on a daily basis. And where there are retaining walls you’ll also likely find drainage systems: piping that’s essential to keeping water from building up behind the wall and creating unwanted pressure.

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The Bakemono Zukushi “Monster” Scroll of Japan

from left to right: the Kami-kiri (hair cutter),  Nekomata (cat demon) and Kitsune (fox demon) and the Yuki-onna (snow woman)

Sometime during the Edo Period (18th – 19th century) of Japan, an artist by the name of Suekichi Hokusai created the Bakemono Zukushi handscroll. In it, 24 yokai and other mysterious creatures that haunted the people of Japan are depicted. Some fairly common ones that are included in popular ghost stories appear, like the Yuki-onna “snow woman” who shows up on snowy nights and asks you to hold her baby. Or the Rokurokubi “long-necked woman.” Some are more obscure, like the Kami-kiri “hair cutter” who sneaks up on people and cuts off their hair.

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Head to Odawara for a Perfect Day Trip of Nature and Art

If you’re looking to get out of Tokyo for a day-trip, head to Odawara, a coastal town Southeast of Tokyo. It’s an hour and a half by train and little faster by car and once you’re there, the beautiful landscape will be more than enough to make you forget the city. We were touring the area last week so here are a few of our favorite spots!

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Bid on Architectural Renderings to Support Victims of the Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami

Home for All is a non-profit charity started by architect Toyo Ito to build homes and community centers for those who lost so much in the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami. In connection with the DESIGNART Tokyo events happening this week, Home For All will be holding a conference and auction to raise awareness and funds for the project. It’s an amazing opportunity to support a worthwhile cause and buy amazing original works by some of the world’s leading Japanese architects and designers.

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Almost Perfect: A 100-Year Old Tokyo Rice Shop Converted Into a Space for Creatives

all photos by Brian Scott Peterson

Tokyo based illustrator Luis Mendo would often travel to the neighborhood of Asakusabashi to pick up sketchbooks. And over time he began falling in love with the creative and artistic vibe of the town. He and his wife Yuka were also getting tired of feeling isolated in Shinjuku. Their tight apartment was putting a strain on their love for hosting artist friends from overseas. So when they stumbled onto a 100-Year old building that formerly housed a rice shop, it immediately checked so many boxes for them. It was almost perfect.

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The Human Restaurant in Tokyo Serves Last Meals of Death Row Inmates

Just in time for Halloween, a spooky pop-up restaurant has opened in Kabukicho, known historically as the red-light district of Shinjuku. The Ningen (“human”) Restaurant (人間レストラン) is a fully-functioning eatery that serves the last meals requested by death row inmates prior to their execution.

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100 Views of Tokyo iPhone Cases by Shinji Tsuchimochi

Following in the footsteps of ukiyo-e artist Utagawa Hiroshige, illustrator Shinji Tsuchimochi spent 3 years illustrating 100 views of Tokyo. Each view is a unique work of art, inspired by ukiyo-e but produced with a modern sense of whimsy and, sometimes, surrealism.

It’s a Tokyo that the Edo painters never knew, and yet glimpses of old Tokyo still remain. Now, some of those prints have been turned into iPhone cases so that your favorite views of Tokyo can be carried with you at all times.

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