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Don Quijote’s Secret Weapon: Pop Signage Artists in Every Store

donki gif

A friend of mine once lamented that if there was hell on earth it would be like Don Quijote. He was, of course, referring to Japan’s discount chain stores – colloquially known as Donki – and not the protagonist of Miguel de Cervantes’ novel. But for all its narrow, maze-like pathways and consumer products densely stacked from floor-to-ceiling, Donki has done remarkably well in Japan. One of the reasons, which many point to, are the hand-written signs, created in pop lettering and a dizzying array of fluorescent colors, that point consumers to products the store is trying to push.

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How to Crochet Yourself the Perfect Bowl of Ramen

Youtuber betibettin recently created a tutorial on how to make ramen. The final product looks so yummy that you can’t help but feel hunger pains. The only thing is, he’s not a chef and his ramen isn’t edible. Try and you’ll end up with a mouth full of yarn. Betibettin is a power crocheter and his latest creation is a bowl of ramen created entirely from yarn. The only thing that’s not yarn is a thin piece of cellophane place over the noodles for added soup-effect.

knit ramen (7)

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BCTION: Over 70 Artists Turn a Tokyo Office Building Slated for Demolition Into Massive Art Gallery

Tokyo is currently undergoing tremendous change. The 2011 earthquake has put even more urgency on city planners and developers to ensure their buildings are quake-proof. In addition, the government is making way for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and all its accompanying facilities. That means many old buildings are being torn down and the face of Tokyo is changing at a dizzying rate.

As a statement of simply existing – being alive and witnessing these turbulent times – a group of over 70 artists have banded together and taken over an office building slated for demolition. Titled BCTION, for roughly a month and a half artists have staged installations on all 9 floors, repurposing the “dead space of the city” into a splendid art gallery.

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A New English Language School in Osaka Incorporates 400 years of History

whiterose shirobara English Language School

For the last 46 years the Shirobara Nursery School has been providing day care services to the little tikes of Osaka. But this year they are upping their game and embracing an increasingly globalized environment by establishing a standalone English language school. The White Rose English School will offer English lessons to preschoolers and elementary schoolers.

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Gentle and Minimal Watercolor Prints by Satsuki Shibuya

satsuki shibuya watercolors (2)

California-based Japanese-American artist Satsuki Shibuya uses watercolors to create gentle, minimal prints. The abstract watercolors bleed together to create subtle imagery that, at times, can make you feel like you’re looking at Rorschach test to determine how peaceful you are. I wasn’t surprised to learn that she takes visual inspiration from the Japanese faux-Finnish brand Mina Perhonen, but I was surprised that she counts Shigeru Ban and Rei Kawakubo as favorite artists.

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A look inside the Seika Dormitory – Urban ruins in the middle of Tokyo

seika dormitory photographs

The place is the Bunkyo ward of Tokyo, and the year is 2012. In the middle of the ever-new city, the ruins of the Seika dormitory stand as a testimony of a major fire that tore down the building in 2007. Formerly housing Chinese and Taiwanese students, the still-life ruins were left vastly untouched and unvisited except for the occasional Haikyo photographer on the hunt for an urban exploration.

Tokyo’s infamous bulldozers cleared away the charred walls, torn down furniture and molten keyboards in 2013, leaving us with only a few accounts of the site. Fortunately, a few spectacular glimpses were captured by two photographers and a videomaker: Belgium-based Suspiciousminds, Japan’s TomBoy and France’s Kitsuney.

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Miniature Dioramas of Bombed Out and Littered Cites by Satoshi Araki

miniature models by Satoshi Araki

miniature diorama of a garbage dump

miniature models by Satoshi Araki

The world of Japanese miniature art is vast and deep. We’ve devoted several articles to highlighting various artists who create miniature worlds out of everything from toy train tracks and wood to human hair. Satoshi Araki is an artist worth noting, not for his use of odd materials, but for his emphasis on teeny tiny details.

The 45-year old Tokyo-based artist makes a living by crafting miniature models of towns, cars, bicycles and almost anything. But his specialty seems to be chaotic cityscapes that are the result of urban decay or warfare.

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Japanese Condom Cookbook to Raise Awareness For Protected Sex

Japanese condom cookbook

tsukutte agetai condomu gohan (作ってあげたいコンドームごはん) which roughly translates as, “I want to cook condom food for you.”

In the past several years condom usage in Japan has continued to fall, resulting in a dramatic rise in cases of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. In fact, a 2008 global survey * put Japan in bottom 3rd for condom usage, despite estimates that the country produces between 20-30% of all condoms. So to help raise awareness for condoms in Japan, and close the gap between producer and user, Japanese authors Kyosuke Kagami and Opanpon have co-written a book that incorporates condoms into one of Japan’s most beloved customs: cooking.

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Chatei Hatou: a nostalgic kissaten in Shibuya

chatei hatou kissaten coffee

If you want to trace the roots of coffee in Japan, then Chatei Hatou must be on your list of places to go. The 25-year old kissaten is a 3-min walk from Shibuya station. And nestled between an okonomiyaki grill and a bare on a sloping street, the dimly lit coffee shop is practically a grandfather in Shibuya years. James Freeman, founder of Blue Bottle Coffee, discovered the joint in 2007 and it’s partly responsible for what Blue Bottle is today. “A single cup costs between $8 and $15, but that seems worth it to experience what Freeman likens to ‘drinking a mink coat’.”

[Chatei Hatou]
– 1-15-9 Shibuya-ku, Shibuya (Google Map)
– Tel: 03-3400-9088
– Hours: 11:00 ~ 23:30

The 3 Booths Not To Miss at the 2014 Tokyo Game Show

TGS2014 Tokyo Game Show 2014 logo
The Tokyo Game Show is a mecca for anyone interested, even remotely, in games. People go for the all the latest in the gaming industry, but also to ogle at new technology, computers, girls (usually in cosplay) and many other reasons. But one of the biggest attractions are the creative and entertaining booths or kiosks that vendors set up. So if you’re heading to the 2014 Tokyo Game Show this weekend, here are the 3 you don’t want to miss. Not because they’re the best but simply because you won’t believe they exist unless you see them in person.

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