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Japan tourism for the design-loving non-tourist (sponsor)

Miho Museum (Shiga Prefecture)

Readers of this site are likely to see Japan as source of inspiration for art, design, and architecture, but taking the next step of visiting and making actual travel plans requires a fair bit of research and coordination. Many of the country’s most interesting and offbeat locations can be both difficult to discover and to access if you don’t know what you’re looking for.

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LEGOLAND Japan Will Feature Miniature Replicas Made From Over 10 Million LEGOs

all photos courtesy Sankei News

On April 1, LEGOLAND Japan will open in Nagoya. The new theme park will feature over 40 different attractions from playgrounds and roller coasters to a lego factory and building stations. One such attractions is MINILAND, which will feature famous Japanese buildings and landmarks carefully replicated in miniature form using over 10 million legos.

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JR East Unveils Luxury Sleeper Train Designed by Ferrari Designer Ken Okuyama

all photos courtesy Nikkei

It’s been almost 3 years since the announcement that JR East was investing 5 billion yen to create a luxury sleeper train. Yesterday, that train was unveiled at a ceremony in Tokyo. Dubbed the Train Suite Shikishima, it was designed by Ken Okuyama, a Japanese industrial designer and the only non-Italian to have designed a Ferrari.

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A Japanese Steel Company’s Beautiful Briefcase

Konstella is a new brand of stylish carrying cases made by Japanese steel company Toyo Steel. The Osaka-based manufacturer specializes in utilitarian lightweight steel products like tool boxes and casters. So in some ways it’s surprising that something so stylish would come out of a company whose bread and butter is humble workday objects. But Toyo Steel actually has a history of utilizing their seamless engineering to merge the worlds of style and utility.

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A coffee brewer for admirers of refined craft and slow coffee

Drawing on their kissaten coffee shop culture, Japan has risen to become one of the coffee capitals of the world. And it’s in these hole-in-the-wall shops where slow coffee culture evolved. Coffee brewing was always ceremonious – coffee grounds were weighed and ground while cups were warmed – and never something to be rushed.

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Vegeo Vegeco: bringing back Japan’s traditional yaoya grocer

Shopping streets all over Japan used to have their own yaoya: dedicated grocers that had special relationships with farmers and knew everything there was to know about the fruits and vegetables they stocked. They were fiercely utilitarian with an emphasis only on the quality of the products.

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Music Monday: METAFIVE

When I discovered METAFIVE my first question was, how does a star-studded supergroup like this even find time to get together? It’s headed by Yukihiro Takahashi, a musician and producer formerly of Yellow Magic Orchestra (YMO) and Sadistic Mika Band.

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Destroyed by the Tsunami, JR Onagawa Station is Rebuilt by Shigeru Ban and Hiroshi Senju

the new Onagawa train station

On March 11, 2011, a powerful tsunami triggered by the Tohoku Earthquake swept away Onagawa Station and the train tracks on the Ishinomaki Line.  Six years later, the new station is a symbol of pride for local citizens.

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Kaonashi (No Face) Coin Bank

OMG guys — Studio Ghibli is releasing a Kaonashi coin bank!

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Toshiaki Hicosaka’s Newspaper Sketches of Ocean Waves

all images courtesy the artist

Toshiaki Hicosaka’s latest project comes at a timely moment. During a 2-month residency in 2016 the Japanese artist created daily newspaper sketches of ocean waves in a tribute to Japan’s first newspaper, but also to journalistic democracy and knowledge.

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