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Zoo Jeans | animals create distressed denim to help raise money for their zoo

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Some people take showers while wearing their denim to get that worn-in look. Others use sandpaper to fast-forward time and achieve instantly-vintage jeans. But a new, innovative method is putting all those old ways to shame. The tools? Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

Zoo Jeans are the only jeans on earth designed by dangerous animals,” says Mineko Club, a volunteer group of zoo supporters who came up with the idea to help raise money for the zoo and animal conservation. “We first take their favorite playthings – old tires and giant rubber balls – and wrap them in sheets of denim.”

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Millions of water drops collide to show the sound of rain

What is the sound of rain? It’s a simple question with a seemingly simple answer. But how do you prove that a single drop of water, when accumulated by the millions, will actually sound like rain? Digital mastermind Yugo Nakamura (previously) set out to prove this in a video titled “Amaoto no Yurai,” or The Origin of The Sound of Rain.

The designer set out by recording the sound and motion of water drops falling on different objects – everything from soil, rock, tree and leaf to brick and skin. As expected, each sound was unique and didn’t even come close to what we recognize as the sound of rain. But when the sounds were combined – first 2-fold, then 4-fold and exponentially larger – the result seems to speak for itself. But be your own judge and have a listen.

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The video was created for the TV Program TECHNE, which gives a behind-the-scenes look at the creative techniques employed by the motion graphics industry.

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Hayama no Mori Nursing Home by Kengo Kuma

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Let it be known, for the record, that if my kids ever decide to put me in a nursing home I want it to look like this one. It’s actually a brand new extension to the Hayama Hills nursing home in Kanagawa and was designed by architect Kengo Kuma. It’s located on a peninsula right near Zushi and Kamakura.

They plan to offer full physical therapy (sounds good to me!) within that beautifully timber-clad building. And an impressive floor-to-ceiling lattice-work library of books promises to keep us occupied in our years of retirement. The only thing is, admissions start at around $2500 per month so I better start saving up now.

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Desktop Fireworks Lets You Have a Party at Your Desk

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Confetti, firecrackers, bubbles and a disco ball. These are all ingredients for an awesome party but not something you would find in an office or cubicle. Unless of course you’re talking about “Desktop Fireworks,” a series of fun lights and noisemakers concealed as ordinary stationary supplies you would find on a desk. Conceived by UK-based Japanese designer Tomomi Sayuda, the party is only activated by pressing the big emergency style button, which releases an orchestra of light, music, bubbles, confetti and thus relieves stress at the workplace. “The button should only be pressed at times of extreme stress,” warns Sayuda.

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Although seemingly all fun and games, the project actually presents a dark cautionary tale. “This is dedicated to my father Kenichi Sayuda, who committed suicide on 8th July 1995 – aged 37, due to his stress at work,” says Sayuda. Japan is perhaps one of the only countries that has a specific word for occupational death – karoshi (過労死) is literally “death from overwork” while karojisatsu (過労自殺) is “suicide from overwork” – and is also one of the few that has the need to report it in statistics as a separate category.

According to government data (PDF), in 2012 there were 285 reported deaths in Japan attributed to overwork. This actually represented the first decline in 3 years after rising to a peak of 302 in 2011. Let’s all take a moment to put life in perspective and remember Sayuda’s important message: when you feel the stress, just hit the emergency buttons and have a party!

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(thank you Tomomi-san!)

Void and Solid: Katsumi Hayakawa Explores Architectural Density With Floating Paper City

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all images courtesy the artist | click to enlarge

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For his first solo exhibition in Spain, Japanese artist Katsumi Hayakawa uses his signature style of miniature paper cutouts to create a multilayered floating city. Accompanied by a new series of paintings and drawings, the site-specific installation examines the impact of architectural density while maintaining the delicate nature of paper.

Painstakingly hand-crafted, the artist’s attention to detail is inherent in his ability to cut, fold and adhere minute pieces of paper, as well as his capacity to build three-dimensional compositions with them. These volumes carry a conceptual and emotional weight capable of transporting us to the heart of any modern mega-metropolis, where human presence dwindles while functionality reigns supreme

Check out the video below to see exactly how he erects his massive paper cities:

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The Sushi Suitcase Cover Will Turn Airport Baggage Claim Areas Into Conveyor Belt Sushi Shops

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In what can only be described as a breakthrough in suitcase covers, someone has designed a series of covers that protect your suitcase from grime and water while also creating giant replicas of common sushi. It’ll make your suitcase immediately recognizable, while also reminding you how much you missed sushi while traveling.

An extra bonus of the nylon sushi covers: if enough people start using them, the baggage claim area at airports will turn into one gigantic kaiten-zushi, the conveyor belt sushi shops where people pick and choose the sushi as it moves by in front of them. Now wouldn’t that be a sight!

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The sushi suitcase covers, which come in tamago, ebi, sake and salmon, will each retail for 2,800 yen. They’ll be sold exclusively at OMISE PARCO, Parco department store’s 1st outpost that just opened in Narita Airport 2 months ago.

The suitcase cover may sound odd in the West, but it’s actually quite common in Japan where cleanliness, even for suitcases, is of the utmost importance.

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thanks for the tip naho

Summer Eats: Cold Somen Noodles

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There is a beautiful and delicious intertwined relationship between food and the 4 seasons in Japan. It’s rather obvious when put into words but each season is uniquely different in climate and condition, which produces, in turn, unique foods that represent each season.

And in Japan there is a tradition of appreciating the seasons through various dishes that accentuate seasonal foods. Perhaps the most famous summer dish is cold somen noodles. And in a wonderful tutorial produced by Casa Brutus, chef and self-proclaimed “food producer” Yuri Nomura teaches us how to prepare the dish. The full recipe is right here.

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Landscapes and Cityscapes Rendered as Musical Notes by Koshi Kawachi

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If landscapes were rendered as musical notes, what would they sound like? That, essentially, was the idea behind “Note Drawing,” Koshi Kawachi’s latest project. The Japanese artist, who is known previously for his snack food art, decided to trace the silhouettes of his environment. He started by tracing the ridge lines of mountains and cityscapes, taking each point and replacing it with an appropriate musical note.

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the skyline of Sapporo, rendered as musical notes

For a recent exhibition at the 500m Museum in Sapporo (Hokkaido), Kawachi traced the skyline as seen from the Sapporo JR Tower. The ridge lines were replaced by notes and the resulting musical score was then played on a Tonkori, a plucked string instrument that was indigenous to the Ainu people of Hokkaido. Have a listen below. It makes you wonder what the skyline of other cities or regions might sound like.

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Shinjuku, rendered in musical notes

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The Bavarian Alps, rendered in musical notes

Japanese Traditional Cooking Utensils Turned Into Lighting Fixtures

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traditional kanaami tofu server

The masters of Kyoto’s delicate, exquisite cuisine have relied on kanaami (wire netting) cooking utensils for over a thousand years. Supporting the tradition is Kanaami Tsuji, a Kyoto-based maker of the fine wares for both traditional and contemporary purposes. After successfully launching their Japan Handmade line, which incorporates the company’s traditional craft with novel designs, Kanaami Tsuji has now collaborated with design firm Nendo.

“Basket Lamp” is a lighting fixture that repurposes the wire netting for contemporary living. And the design itself, which allows the handcrafted shade’s beautiful woven pattern to reflect on the ceiling, harkens back to old tradition. It’s said that the original reason such netting was applied to cooking utensils was because people cherished the beauty of the shadow that was cast onto water as you went to scoop out your food.

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source: press release

Kayanoya: a traditional soy sauce shop opens in Tokyo

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Looking for artisanal soy sauce? Let Kayanoya “shoyu” the way to their new flagship store in Nihonbashi, Tokyo. After diligently crafting Japan’s most beloved condiment for over 120 years in Fukuoka, the long-established company has launched a campaign to expand and bring their seasoned soy sauce to a broader audience.

The interior “is a reproduction of their traditional warehouse which we visited in Kyushu,” says Kengo Kuma, who designed the space. Barrels used for traditional soy sauce-making hang from the ceiling and special wooden trays (known as koji buta) that are also used in the manufacturing process are used as display shelves. They are all assembled by local craftsmen and then brought up to Tokyo to create a sophisticated, unique shop that feels ripe with authenticity.

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The new shop, which is located in the Coredo Muromachi retail complex, represent s the first phase of a new growth strategy for the company, which has its eyes set on Japan but also abroad. In a recent interview the CEO revealed plans to open their first overseas store within the next 3 years. It was initially supposed to be in New York but they decided on Paris instead, citing the French capital as being more open toward Japanese food and culture.

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source: Sankei Biz | Kengo Kuma

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