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What Happens When Musical Instrument and Motorcycle Designers Trade Places

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Japanese company Yamaha was founded in 1887 as a piano manufacturer. But after WWII the company leveraged its expertise in metallurgy to branch into motorcycles as well, creating a most diverse product range. Today, the company not only makes musical instruments, bikes and motorcycles, but sporting goods and robots as well.  But motorcycles and musical instruments remains their bread and butter and Yamaha’s origins are still reflected today in their logo—a trio of interlocking tuning forks.

In order to stimulate innovation within the diverse company, Yamaha recently embarked upon a design initiative called AH A MAY. The naming was derived from Yamaha spelled backwards. But the project itself was one of cross-dissemination, rather than reversal. They asked their motorcycle designers to create musical instruments. Meanwhile, their musical instrument designers were tasked with coming up with a motorcycle and bicycle.

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Real and Virtual Worlds Combine in Perfume’s Mind-Bending Performance at SXSW

Before you watch this 5-min performance by Perfume that was filmed last week at SXSW in Austin, keep in mind there was no post-production. In other words, all the special effects you see – what appears to be numerous transitions between a science-fictional virtual reality and a live venue – were done and filmed on the spot. It was even live-broadcasted on YouTube.

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Papa’s Maze 2.0: a father’s beautifully intricate puzzle for his daughter

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Papa’s new maze in progress | photo courtesy @Kya7y

By now you may know the story: Kazuo Nomura toiled away as a janitor during the day. At night he would come home and work on his passion: a large, incredibly detailed maze. After spending 7 years the creation was finally completed in 1983, at which point it was rolled up and stashed away in an attic where it was forgotten about. But when his daughter unearthed it two years ago and posted it to twitter, Mr. Nomura’s creation was pulled out into the spotlight.

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An Immersive Interactive Garden of 2300 Floating Flowers Inspired by a Zen Koan

floating flower garden by teamlab at miraikan

images courtesy teamlab | click to enlarge

As part of their current large-scale exhibition at Miraikan in Tokyo, TeamLab has created a fully-immersive installation of interactive flowers. 2300 flowers, to be exact, are suspended in a room that responds to the movement of visitors as they enter and walk through the forest of floating flowers. As visitors approach, the flowers float above their head, creating a small dome. It’s like the Rain Room, but with vegetation.

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Micro-Replicas of Food and Household Items Made From Clay by Tomo Tanaka

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all photos courtesy tomo tanaka

Tomo Tanaka, a self-described “miniature artist” has been crafting micro-replica sculptures of food and common household items since 2002. The sculptures are all made to scale – 1/12 of the original, according to the artist – and come to life primarily from clay and epoxy. The replicas are so lifelike that the artist has to include his hand in each photograph for scale and to also show that they’re not real.

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The 4 Seasons and the Japanese Traditions Associated With Them

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One of the many things I love about Japan is the appreciation of all four seasons. Whether its non-stop rain before the hot and humid summer sets in or the summer moon gazing that follows it, there are customary traditions for all seasons. And they’re not just about appreciating Spring, Summer Fall and Winter. It’s a celebration of the passage of time, and of life in general.

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Can You Identify These Ghibli Films Only By Their Color Palette?

ghibli film color palette

Ponyo takes place by the sea and underwater, which explains the predominantly blue hues

Hayao Miyazaki is known for using watercolors to create his art to achieve his specific visual style. And uf you’ve ever seen a Ghibli film genga (a term that literally means “original image” but refers to the refined key frame images created by the film’s animators) one thing that will immediately pop out at you is the rich, lush colors. But it’s easy to forget Miyazaki’s masterful use of color because the films themselves are so engrossing.

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Sculptures of Decomposing Body Parts by Yuichi Ikehata

Yuichi Ikehata

Japanese photographer Yuichi Ikehata creates realistic sculptures of human body parts using clay, wire and paper. He then photographs the sculptures and merges them into unrealistic worlds to create Long Term Memory (LTM), an ongoing photographic series that “puts audiences in the ambivalent position of not knowing what is real and what is not.”

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How a 50-Year Old Spaniard Gifted the Twitter Handle @japan to the Japanese Government

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Javier Castaño at the Café Central de Málaga in Spain where he works from 8AM

Javier Castaño has worked many jobs: civil engineer, architect, graphic designer. However, after Spain’s economic downturn he began polishing shoes, and does so to this day, at the Café Central de Málaga in Spain. Javier, lovingly known by the locals as a “quirky diabetic,” has always been tech-savvy.

In early 2007, when twitter was just under a year old, Javier joined the fledgling social network under the handle @xabel and was quick to develop the foresight as to what it could become. Seeing that strategically important geographic handles lay unclaimed and vulnerable, Javier tasked himself with grabbing what he could, protecting them, and safely delivering them to their rightful owners when the time came. These included @madrid, @malaga, @rome, @canada, @riodejaneiro, @NY and @japan.

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A Kids Chair Inspired by the 1956 Film ‘The Red Balloon’

Balloon Chair by Satoshi Itasaka

the Balloon Chair by Satoshi Itasaka | click images to enlarge

In the final seen of the 1956 short film ‘The Red Balloon’ the young boy, after being chased by bullies, is rescued by a cluster of balloons. Watching him sitting down and being carried away by the balloons is enough to put a smile on anyone’s face. It was also enough to inspire Japanese designer Satoshi Itasaka to create a range of furniture based on the film.

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