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The Japanese City Hall that Attracts More Visitors Than Amusement Parks

nagaoka japan city hall aore

If you have plans to visit a City Hall you’re definitely not bragging to your friends about it. City Halls are stuffy places, with suits and paperwork. It’s where we go to change our address, submit birth certificates and to pay our taxes. The only similarity – if I was to make one – between City Halls and amusement parks would be the lines. But if the Aore City Hall in Nagaoka were an amusement park it would be the 3rd most popular in all of Japan.

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Plans For New Shibuya Skyscraper Unveiled

new shibuya station 2019

renderings of the new Shibuya Station Building slated to open in 2019

The face of Tokyo continues to change. This week Tokyu Corp. unveiled plans for what a new skyscraper steps from Shibuya station will look like. In addition to crowd-drawing landmarks like the Hachiko sculpture and the chaotic Shibuya crossing, the station will now be getting a 230-meter skyscraper that will boast a luxurious public sky deck that offers views of said landmarks, as well as Mt. Fuji.

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Thom Browne’s 2015 Menswear Inspired by Japaneses Textile and Geishas

thom browne geisha inspired 2016 menswear

photos by InDigital courtesy Vogue Japan

Kimono-sleeved coats, embroidered koi fish, sheered mink applique of Mt. Fuji and wooden geta sandals. I’m not describing a night of kaiseki cuisine in Kyoto. In fact, this isn’t Japan at all. Over the weekend American designer Thom Browne hosted his Spring 2016 menswear show at a warehouse in the outskirts of Paris. But, clearly, Japan was on everyone’s minds.

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A Japanese Engineer Hijacked a Cleaning Robot and Turned it Into an Artist

mr-head-robot-painter (2)

His name is Mr. Head. He used to be a janitor but last year he made a radical career shift. Now he’s an impressive, sought-after painter who creates abstract splatter paintings in the vein of Jackson Pollock. He tirelessly works day and night without break to create his vibrant works. Unfortunately for Mr. Head, however, he lacks the skills to explain, promote and sell his work. You see, he’s a robot.

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Japanese Researchers Create Interactive Aerial Holograms Using Femtosecond Lasers

fairy-lights (3)

A consortium of Japanese researchers recently unveiled a project that utilized femtosecond lasers. I had no idea what that meant, but it sounded cool, so I read on. The project, dubbed “Fairy Lights in Femtoseconds” is being officially presented at SIGRAPH 2015 this august. The team succeeded in creating 3D aerial graphics that would respond and react to the human touch.

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Chaotic Photographs of Electric Cables Suspended Over Japanese Streets

hachioji electric cables (1)

all photos by Ikue Mio courtesy Sankei

When visitors first come to Japan one of the things that surprises them the most is the abundance of overhead electrical cables. Maybe it’s not evident at first, but as soon as you point your viewfinder to the sky you’ll surely notice the many electrical wires, transmission lines, TV cables, fiber optic lines and every other carrier of modern-day technology. There’s been a concerted effort to go subterranean, especially with the upcoming 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, but the costly operation is taking time.

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Mikiya Kobayashi Gives Kutani Porcelain a Modern Twist


Photos by Yosuke Owashi courtesy Mikiya Kobayashi | click to enlarge

Kutani porcelain dates back to the mid-1600s and is one of the backbones of Japanese pottery. The style is known for its wealth of colors— greens, blues, yellows, purples, and reds—and bold designs. Putting a modern twist on this traditional craft is industrial designer Mikiya Kobayashi.

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A New Preschool in Japan Designed to Accumulate Large Puddles When it Rains

dai-ichi preschool in kumamoto by hibino sekkei

the courtyard of the new Dai-Ichi Preschool in Kumamoto | photos Ryuji Inoue courtesy Hibino Sekkei

What is it about puddles of water that makes kids want to jump right into them with all their might? It’s no doubt that outdoor play, whatever the weather, is a necessity of childhood. So if there’s any place where kids should be allowed to be kids, without being subject to the cringes and shouts of adults who are overly concerned about wet shoes, socks and pants (don’t even mention the mud), that place is preschool.

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Now Open: The New Oita Prefectural Art Museum Designed by Shigeru Ban

Oita Prefectural Art Museum

all photos by Hiroyuki Hirai | click to enlarge

“It is meaningless to build an art museum if you are going to imitate others,” says Ryu Niimi, director of the new Oita Prefectural Art Museum. “If you are not determined to build something unique, and like nothing else, to exist only in Oita, then it is meaningless.” With that bold mission statement, the OPAM (as it is abbreviated), the ‘Museum of Five Senses,’ (as it is being proclaimed) opened to visitors in April of 2015.

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Chappie: the human shaped graphic design system is now an app


the chappie app allows you to configure your chappie avatar

What is graphic design? We often think of it in the form of advertisements, books or magazines. But AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) defines it as “the art and practice of planning and projecting ideas and experiences with visual and textual content.” Rethinking our connotations, the Japanese design studio groovisions, in 1994, created a “human-shaped graphic design system” and called it Chappie.

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