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Yuasa Town: The Birthplace of Soy Sauce

screenshots from the film “The Birthplace of Soy Sauce”

Soy Sauce is said to have originated in China and then brought over to Japan by a Buddhist monk who settled down in current-day Wakayama Prefecture in 1254. Using the abundance of clear, spring water from the town of Yuasa he began producing a type of miso that he had learned about on his travels that had been used to preserve vegetables. A byproduct from this process – a liquid that collected in the barrels of the miso paste – was soy sauce. And this is how the town of Yuasa became the birthplace of Soy Sauce.

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Nobuyuki Tani’s Handmade Bicycles are Original Works of Art

the “Trunk” model (258,000 yen). All photos courtesy Ishinokura Shoten

When the makers of the live-action remake of Kiki’s Delivery Service needed bicycles for the film they turned to one man: Nobuyuki Tani. The self-proclaimed cycle artist, after a stint at SONY designing cassette players, telephones, TVs and audio devices, left his job to take over his father’s small bicycle business. There he made a name for himself designing custom bicycles and is now the proprietor of Cycle Boy, where he claims to be Japan’s only maker of customized casual bikes.

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Guntu: a new floating hotel that will travel Japan’s inland sea

Japan’s Setouchi inland sea has become quite the tourist destination thanks to its beautiful scenery, fresh seafood and vibrant art scene. But if island hopping isn’t your thing and you prefer a more laid back style of sightseeing, consider Guntu, a new floating hotel that will begin operating within Japan’s inland sea in September, 2017.

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Journey Through 100 of Japan’s Finest Gardens

Gate at Yoshikien, Nara, Japan

Marc Peter Keane in an American landscape architect who spent almost 20 years in Kyoto practicing landscape design. In fact, he was the first foreigner to receive a working visa as a landscape architect. Now back stateside, Keane maintains an office in upstate New York where he designs Japanese gardens for both public and private spaces. It’s hard to think of a better person to serve as a personal guide through 100 of Japan’s Finest Gardens.

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The Joy of Watching Miniature Japanese Meals Being Prepared

There are books on the wall, a table in the middle of the room, a plant, maybe a floor lamp or two. But something doesn’t feel right in this room, like it’s a set. Suddenly, a gigantic hand reaches into the frame, revealing that the room was indeed a set built entirely in miniature form. The chopping board is maybe the size of a pinky; the knife slightly smaller. This is the world of Japanese miniature enthusiast and YouTuber ‘Joken’ aka AAAJoken, or triple-A Joken.

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The 3 Million Yen MUJI Hut, Coming this Fall

A year and a half ago, MUJI revealed plans to begin selling huts: small, humble abodes that would allow users to enjoy the simple pleasures of life, anywhere they wanted. They commissioned 3 notable designers – Naoto Fukasawa, Jasper Morrison and Konstantin Grcic – to create concept huts. But in the end, they decided to go with a design that borrows from each.

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Poop: an unlikely savior for kids learning kanji

From 1st grade to 6th grade, Japanese elementary schoolers must learn over 1000 kanji characters and commit them to memory. The strenuous task – one that all children in Japan face – is typically accomplished only by rote memorization: writing the characters over and over and over again. But an unlikely savior has recently emerged in bookstores across Japan: poop.

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30 Flower Bicycles Pedal the Streets of Sao Paulo to Celebrate Nature and the Japanese Diaspora

The single largest Japanese diaspora in any city is in São Paulo. The Japanese first settled there in the Liberdade district in 1912 and has since grown to what is estimated to be 1.5 million. Now through May 7th, everyday a fleet of 30 flower bicycles created by Japanese botanic artist Makoto Azuma will ride through the streets of Sao Paulo passing numerous iconic sites – including the Liberdade district where it all began – and giving out flowers to people along the way.

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You Can Now Own a Kengo Kuma-Designed Trailer Home for 3.5 Million Yen

Kengo Kuma’s Jyubako trailer home

Are you looking to downsize from your expensive city apartment? Or Maybe you’re just looking to simplify your life? Well now you can do so in style thanks to a collaboration between architect Kengo Kuma and Snow Peak, a Japanese manufacturer of outdoor goods.

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Announcing the Winners of the 2017 A’ Design Awards & Competition (Sponsor)

The A’ Design Award & Competition is the world’s largest annual juried design competition. Each year the competition accepts entries from over 110 categories, including graphic design, fashion and apparel, photography, toys and games, furniture, architecture, and visual communication.

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