Search Results for "art"
unless otherwise noted all photos by flickr user mh2718
Aogashima – the blue island
Despite being 222 miles south of Tokyo, Aogashima, a remote yet inhabited island, falls under the administration of Japan’s capital city. But the address is where the similarities end. As of 2010, the 9 square kilometer (about 1680 football stadiums, for all you Super Bowl fans out there) island has 98 households and a population of 165, making it the smallest village in all of Japan.
Looking almost like a Jurassic Park-like natural fortress, the volcanic island is known as a caldera. Within the large crater is a smaller crater – a cinder cone – that was formed after the larger explosion. The steep rugged cliffs of layered volcanic deposits rise up as high as 1388 feet.
Origins Shrouded in Mystery
How people first ended up on the island is largely considered a mystery. The island’s own legend has it that the island was once forbidden to women because it was believed that man and women living together on the island would anger the gods. The first written records of the island appear around the 15th century and many of them are of shipwrecks so there’s a strong possibility that sailors may have taken refuge on the island and eventually made it their home.
Returning Home After Tragedy
A series of earthquakes in 1780-81 was followed by volcanic activity 2 years later. Lava flows burned down all the houses and residents were forced to flee to the nearest island, Hachijojima. Unfortunately, about half of the 327 residents did not make it out in time and perished. Those who did survive were forced to live out the next 40 years of their life on Hachijojima. Some sought out new life elsewhere but others could never forget their beloved island. One of these people was Jirodayu Sasaki, who, after 18 years of planning, courageously led an expedition back to the island and successfully resettled in 1835. He’s considered a hero on the island and there’s even a statue of him.
Traveling to Aogashima
In this day and age, getting to Aogashima is actually much easier than you might have thought. They even have their own heliport!
- First Class – fly from Tokyo to Hachijojima and then take a helicopter. A one way trip will take just a little over 2 hours and will cost about $240.
- Economy Class – sail from Tokyo to Hachijojima and then take a smaller boat. A one way trip will take 14 hours and will cost about $100.
So what do you actually do once you get to this lost paradise? Well what it doesn’t have in beaches the island makes up in starry skies. Photographer Toshihiko Ogawa documented some of these fantastic starry nights. The photos were taken from the 2nd caldera, where many people will go to camp out. There is also a volcanic natural hot spring where you rest those muscles from all the rock climbing you did getting there.
Otherwise there’s plenty of fishing, hiking trails and shrines to see. And the internet is probably shoddy so it’s the perfect place to unplug.
January 31, 2014 3 Comments
A shoten-gai （商店街）is a shopping street centrally located within small towns in Japan. They come in all shapes and sizes and, somewhat naturally, have evolved directly in front of local train stations. It’s where people come to gather and shop, either on their way home from work or during the day. But as is the case with most cities, the face of these shopping streets have changed. Local vendors and artisans have been replaced by large drugstore chains, 100-yen shops and convenience stores.
In an attempt to recreate the lost charm of shoten-gai, Nakagawa Masamichi Shoten, a traditional fabric maker with a 300-year history, hired designer Yusuke Seki (previously) to create a new type of market place; one more suitable and competitive within a new ecosystem. Nakagawa Masamichi Shoten-gai opened last year in the basement level of the Tokyo Midtown shopping complex. “In the same way that a city grows and develops by accumulating its people and building up the number of individual shops in one particular area, this shop was designed to reflect a growing market street, within a city central precinct,” says Seki.
One of my favorite details is the electrical signboard, an essential element of all Shoten-gai and a unifying mechanism to reflect identity.
source: press release
January 30, 2014 1 Comment
Don’t speak cat? Not a problem. Now you can write in cat. Well, sort of.
Nekofont is a Japanese website that lets you write words in a typeface made entirely of cats. Unfortunately, special characters like the “&” are a bit too contorted, even for cats.
Nekofont is made from 2 cats – Raizo and Mondo - who were picked up off the street when they were kittens. Their cat-loving owner started photographing them after realizing that some of their ridiculous sleeping positions actually resembled letters. Their owner set up a simple website that became so popular, it was turned into a book late last year (available on Amazon JP).
source: lostateminor (thx Masako!)
January 24, 2014 Comments Off
“The tiny dancing flames had bespangled the sea of darkness from end to end of the horizon, and now, like millions of stars, they burned with a steady light in the serene summer night,” wrote the French writer Emile Zola, in describing his home city. “There was no breath of wind to make them flicker as they hung there in space. They made the unseen city seem as vast as a firmament, reaching out into infinity.”
In what is ultimately an ode to her own home city, the artist Yukino Ohmura uses stickers to recreate nightscapes of Tokyo. Using thousands of ordinary dot stickers from her stationary store, items typically reserved for mundane tasks like color-coding files, Ohmura creates a realistic yet somewhat idealized portrait of well know locations. “I prefer to use recognizable locations because I want to be able to connect with the viewer,” said Ohmura describing her work.
Although a megalopolis like Tokyo can feel vast and chaotic at times, it’s many lights, when seen at night, and from afar, can convert the noise into a dreamlike sky of colorful stars.
left: Tokyo Tower (2013) | right: Tokyo Sky Tree (2013)
January 23, 2014 3 Comments
Hakata is quickly transforming into a trendy, hipster hangout. After getting a gorgeous artisanal tea shop, the Japanese Southern city, known for it’s heavy, pork-based ramen, just got a craft beer watering hole too. Under the leadership of craft beer heavyweight Teruya Hori, Goodbeer Faucets opened their first location in Shibuya 2 years ago. And now with a craft beer boom in full swing in Japan they’ve opened a beach house-themed location along the Naka River in Hakata.
The interior was designed by Yoshihiro Saitoh of A-Study, who integrated ropes and a wooden pagoda into the design. It creates a nice atmosphere that makes you fully aware of the ocean’s presence. The Hakata location has over 40 craft beers on draught; mostly Japanese and American microbrews. And with more emphasis on food pairing than it’s older sister in Tokyo, the watering hole is making itself out to be a lot more than just a watering hole.
Several years ago it would have been close to impossible to walk into a bar and order anything other than Sapporo, Kirin or Yebisu. But thanks to the revision of a legal code that allowed smaller players to enter the market, microbreweries were suddenly cool.
January 19, 2014 2 Comments
At first it’s not clear what you’re viewing. And once that becomes evident, a new question presents itself: how did he do it? As part of a series titled “Stainless” photographer Adam Magyar boarded a train and rode it into Shinjuku station, the world’s busiest train station. As his car approached the platform Maygar began filming – in
super slow motion high speed* – footage of people waiting to board the train.
(*a facebook commenter corrected me: it’s actually high speed footage, not slow motion. The high speed camera captures the scene at an enormous number of frames pr. second, which, when played back at a normal frame rate, appears in extreme slow motion or is frozen in time.)
There is so much wonderfulness in this video, but perhaps it’s said best by the creator himself: “An endless row of living sculptures brought together by the same subway line, the same direction, the same intention of taking the train to get caught and carried away by the urban flow. All their motions slowed down, they are graceful and stainless, holding their breath waiting for their train to pull into the station.”
If you want to know more, check out this 20-minute presentation in which the artist talks about his work and his technique.
January 16, 2014 10 Comments
Once proudly web only, online sites opening brick-and-mortar stores seems to be the new trend, as evidenced by companies like EBay, Etsy, Piperlime and Warby Parker. But with a tech start-up spirit slowly taking hold in Japan, it seems as though the country is no exception. Gurunavi, a yelp-like service that offers online food and restaurant guides, has opened up their first physical store.
Located in a prime location right outside Osaka Station, “SHUN＊SHOKU LOUNGE” is part café, part information kiosk. The Kengo Kuma-desinged interior features a topographical landscape made from layered natural wooden sheets. Much of the furniture serves as a showcase to display seasonal foods that rotate in and out on a monthly basis. Over on the café customers can order smoothies and lunch boxes made from the seasonal ingredients.
The owners hope that the shop will help disperse information about Osaka’s food and dining culture, while also bridging a gap between restaurants and farmers. However, I would go just for the amazing scenery.
January 15, 2014 Comments Off
In 1876 the Cincinnati-born painter Robert Frederick Blum visited the Centennial Exposition, the first official World’s Fair. Although only a mere 20 years since the arrival of Commodore Perry, Japan staged an impressive booth. It left a strong impression on Blum, as well as a writer for the Atlantic Monthly. Impressed by Japan’s elegance and it’s contrast to the excesses of other nations, the reporter wrote: “The Japanese collection is the first stage for those who are moved chiefly by the love of beauty or novelty in their sight-seeing. The gorgeousness of their specimens is equaled only by their exquisite delicacy…After the Japan collection, everything looks in a measure commonplace, almost vulgar.”
14 years later in 1890, Blum seized his opportunity and took up an invitation to attend Japan’s 3rd National Industrial Exhibition in Ueno Park, Tokyo. He spent 3 years there, meticulously documenting Japan in vivid oil paintings that provide an intimate, animated look into a time we know mainly through limited black and white photos.
Left: “Meguro Fudo Temple” | Right: “Orange Kimono (Orange-iro no Kimono)”
Left: “Japanese Samurai (Nihon no Samurai)” | Right: “Japanese Woman (Nihon no Josei)”
source: DDN Japan
January 13, 2014 4 Comments
VIN ROSE has been cooking up sweets and pastries for locals since 1977. The well-established shop, located in the suburban neighborhood of Katsutadai (Chiba) just East of Tokyo, was especially well known for their apple pie. But after 35 years of doing business, the owners decided it was time for change. They hired architect Yuko Nagayama (previously) to create a modern, enticing space that accommodate their growing family as well as maintain their presence as neighborhood pâtissier.
VIN ROSE, now nestled in-between a massive condo building and a clinic, reopened its doors late last year. The first floor is the bakery and kitchen while the 2nd and 3rd floors encompass living quarters for the owners and their 2 kids. Defining the structure is the open space that’s been carved out above the bakery, creating the illusion that the home above is hovering over the bakery. It also serves the purpose allowing natural light to spill into the bakery. But for a real treat, head there in the evening hours when the space looks like a treasure box that’s been opened and goodies are flowing out.
January 9, 2014 1 Comment
Every year around this time we share with you a selection of Japanese designer Holiday/New Year’s cards (all previous years). Here is the 2014 edition, which should also serve as a reminder that this year is the year of the horse. Happy New Year!
This first card is from Tatsuo Horiuchi, the Excel spreadsheet artist. And yes, this card was created entirely in Microsoft Excel.
A cute illustrated card from Nagoya-based graphic design firm creun, inc.
Each year Tomoko Azumi of TNA Design Studio uses her prized stamp collection to compose a card.
Visual artist Tabaimo came up with a rather morbid New Years greeting. The bones and hear spell out the characters for 2014.
Botanic artist Makoto Azuma put together a floral arrangement that resembles a horse.
A horse-themed card from Spoon & Tamago friend and illustrator Naho Ogawa.
This one is from Japanese Techno-pop group Denki Groove.
Creative Director Kenjiro Sano used a mathematical formula based on the numbers 2014, to create an image of a horse.
Creative Director Keisuke Unosawa opted for the cowboy/cowgirl motif.
Also not a New Year’s card, but Hiroshima-based Hyphen Design created a gorgeously minimal 2014 calendar as a greeting. It’s easy to use and free for anyone to download and print. Grab yours HERE (PDF).
A colorful greeting card from felt sculptor Hine Mizushima.
January 7, 2014 1 Comment