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Japanese Designer New Year’s Cards of 2017

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Happy New Year! It’s become a tradition here at Spoon & Tamago, around this time of year, to share some of our favorite Japanese designer New Year’s cards (prior years can be found here).

Of course, not everyone sends cards. Some simply post staged photographs. Others painted paintings. One even created a free, downloadable calendar. But even though sending nengajo, as they’re called in Japan, is in a secular decline, we still enjoy bringing them all together here because it gives us a chance to reflect on those we shared a moment with, whether it was intentional or by chance.

Now, prepare yourself for an onslaught of rooster-inspired New Year’s cards.

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Sola Cube: Elements of Nature Encapsulated in Resin

3.8 billion years ago life began on earth with single-celled organisms like bacteria. And over millions of years multicellular life evolved into land plants and forests. The colors and shapes of flowers, fruits and seeds all have unique purposes and are as beautiful as they are functional.

One Japanese designer, intent on showcasing the wonder and beauty of mother nature, developed a way to exquisitely preserve plants in acrylic cubes. He called them “Sola Cubes.”

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Objects of Nature Encrusted with Polygons Made From Twine by Norihiko Terayama

“crust of polygon” by Norihiko Terayama

Driftwood, stems and branches. They’re all around us but so easily overlooked. But designer Norihiko Terayama’s latest series of sculptures offers different way of seeing these ordinary objects of nature.

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Kiyoto Maruyama: one of Japan’s last public bath mural painters

If you’ve ever been to a sento, or a public bath in Japan, you may have noticed a large mural, typically one of Mt. Fuji. Most sentos are decorated with such murals on the interior, referred to as penki-e, and it’s common for them to be repainted at least once a year featuring Mt. Fuji in various forms.

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Gravity-Defying Stacked Coin Sculptures by Shunsuke Tani

With a little bit of creativity and, occasionally, a whole lot of patience, any household item can be turned into material for art. And it’s often the most mundane of items that have the greatest impact. For Shunsuke Tani, a young biologist major-turned childcare specialist, it was spare change that was lying around his house that became one of his greatest passions.

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The Wintry Elegance of Hasui Kawase’s Woodblock Prints

“Snow at Tsukijima” (1930)

Hasui Kawase (1883-1957) was a prominent landscape artist in 20th century Japan who travelled extensively throughout the Western regions of the country. Known for his poetic renderings of snow, rains and moonlight, he created elegant prints of Kyoto temples covered in snow, as well as dark and quiet landscapes.

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Spoon & Tamago’s Most Popular Products of 2016

2016 marked our 3rd year of operating the Spoon & Tamago shop and it finally feels like we’re getting the hang of things. Running an online shop, and doing everything in-house, poses several challenges, as we’ve discovered. But it enables us to reach out and form relationships with our favorite artists, makers and designers and be the bridge between them and the world. That gives us so much joy and is what keeps us going. With that said, here are the top 5 products we carry that our customers loved the most.

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Spoon & Tamago’s Most Popular Posts of 2016

Dear Readers –

As the year of the monkey comes to an end, and we prepare to welcome in the year of the hen, it’s time to reflect on 2016, and take a look at what stroke a chord most with our audience. The top 10 list this year is a diverse mix of subjects that range from geography and horticulture to traditional craft, music and photography. I’m proud of each and every one of these articles, but I can also say that I’m proud of all the articles we chose not to write. “Fake news” was on the mind of many media publishers this year, and understandably so.

But we stand by each and every article that we’ve published and I hope readers can take comfort in knowing that our stories, even though they’re about relatively lighter topics, are vetted for accuracy and truthfulness.

2017 will mark our 10-year anniversary of blogging! To us, that’s pretty incredible. And we couldn’t have done it without our readers so I wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you for stopping by and spending time reading. Look out for some fun projects next year to celebrate our 10th blogiversary!

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Osamu Tezuka’s Early Illustrations and Advertisements for a Comedian

A series of rare and early illustrations by manga artist Osamu Tezuka (1928 – 89) have been discovered. The illustrations feature comedic scenes and an advertisement for rakugo artist Katsura Harudanji II (1894 – 1953).

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There’s a Tokyo Version of the Scotland Yard Board Game

the Tokyo version of Scotland Yard | click images to enlarge

Scotland Yard, the sleuthy board game in which you and your teammates must apprehend Mister X as he conceals himself in the city of London, was one of my favorites growing up as a kid. In fact, my kids are getting the game for Christmas this year (Shhh). By definition, I always assumed the game could not take place in any other city. I was wrong.

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