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Illustrated Tokyo Storefronts by Mateusz Urbanowicz

left: Yamane meat shop (Nippori) | right: Tsuruya Tailors, now retro variety shop (Jimbocho)

Mateusz Urbanowicz, also known as Matto, is a Polish artist and illustrator currently based in Tokyo. He originally moved to Japan to study animation and comics and he landed himself a gig at Tokyo-based animation film studio CoMix Wave. He’s been working there as a background artist and animation creator where he contributed to notable titles such as last year’s mega-hit “Your Name” and the short TV anime series “Tabi Machi Late Show.”

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Highlights From the 2017 Sapporo Snow Festival

all photos by Shigeo Takahashi / Sankei Photo

I have a Sapporo. I have a Snow. *ungh* Sapporo Snow Festival. Indeed, the annual Sapporo Snow Festival kicked off today and features topical snow sculptures like Piko Taro, whose viral success in late 2016 made him one of Japan’s most well-known celebrities, and new U.S. President Donald Trump, who took office on January 20.

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A’ Design Awards 2017: International Call for Entries (Sponsor)

The 2017 A’ Design Award & Competition, the world’s leading international, annual juried competition for design, is now open. Interested designers, artists, architects, and companies can register and submit their realized designs and concepts at competition.adesignaward.com/registration.

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Japanese Street Style Magazine FRUiTS to Shutter After 20 Years Citing Lack of Cool Kids

After 20 years of capturing the street style of Japanese teens in and around Harajuku, Japanese magazine FRUiTS says it has published its last issue. The reason? Lack of material.

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Japanese Buildings that are Shaped Like the Things They Sell

The other day we stumbled upon a building in Osaka that was shaped like a dachshund. As it turns out, it was a warehouse and distribution center for the Japanese pet food company DoggyMan, which made sense; what you see is what you get.

But it made us wonder: what other novelty architecture is there in Japan in which buildings are shaped like the things they sell? Unsurprisingly, there are quite a few. And thanks to our Twitter followers who pointed us in interesting directions. Read on for some of our favorites.

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Realistic Glass Insects Sculpted to Scale by Yuki Tsunoda

Think twice before you swat that mosquito. It just might be a delicate glass sculpture, at least if you’re in the presence of Yuki Tsunoda, a young sculptor who shapes glass into insects and plants that are almost exactly to scale.

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Kyoto Café Reimagines Rocks & Minerals as Beautiful Food

an edible rock and mineral specimen meal that was offered last year

Usaginonedoko is a Kyoto shop, café and lodge whose purpose is to convey the sculptural beauty of mother nature. Their shop is like a little museum where you’ll find natural artifacts and specimens scattered among their signature sola cubes of plants and minerals encapsulated in resin.

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Getting your share of the Japanese Valentine’s Day Market

from trains, noodles, sushi and strawberries, everyone gets in on Valentine’s Day in Japan

Depending on where you live, maybe couldn’t care less about Valentine’s Day. In some European countries, it’s just a day the flower shops are decorated with hearts trying to persuade you to buy flowers.

Not so in Japan where, if you are romantically inclined, it’s one of the most important days of the year, on par with even Christmas. Chocolate as a food associated with passion and romance is rooted in Mesoamerican history. But Richard Cadbury is largely credited with the commercialization and gift-giving aspect of Valentine’s.

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MTRL Kyoto: a 120-year old studio converted into a coworking space

the co-working space MTRL Kyoto (photos courtesy Fumihiko Sano)

Need an hour, a day, or even longer to work on a creative project, or make a presentation to a client? If you’re based in Kyoto you’re in luck because just the space exists. MTRL Kyoto is a co-working space that packs laser cutters, 3D printers and other tools, as well as meeting rooms that seat 10, 30 and 40 people.

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Kaikado’s Tea and Coffee Cafe in Kyoto

For 40 years an old government building had remained vacant. Originally built in 1927, the Western-style concrete space had been used as a garage and administration office until it closed in the mid-1970s. But last year a group of young craftsmen decided to revitalize the space and turn it into a café that would also function as an outlet for showcasing the work of young Japanese craftsmanship.

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