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Hypothetical Tokyo Ghibli Land Created by Japanese Illustrator TAKUMI

tokyo ghibli land

Tokyo Ghibli Land illustrated by TAKUMI | click to enlarge

Could you imagine a place more magical than Disney Land? The answer, arguably, is yes. And a Japanese illustrator who goes simply by the name TAKUMI has done exactly that. He’s created an illustrated version of Tokyo Ghibli Land, a hypothetical amusement park that incorporates rides and attractions all based on the beloved Ghibli films.

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New Blue Bottle Coffee in Kiyosumi, Tokyo Designed by Jo Nagasaka

blue bottle kiyosumi tokyo

The new Blue Bottle Coffee shop in Kiyosumi; their 1st overseas location | image courtesy schemata architects

It’s no secret that James Freeman, inspired by Tokyo and its kissaten coffee culture, decided to establish Blue Bottle Coffee. So it seemed like only a matter of time before the well-funded Oakland, California based roaster expanded to Japan.

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Japan Reimagines Their Ogres as Strong, Agile and Sexy

smart setsubun

Today, February 3rd, is Setsubun (literally, seasonal division) and is the day before the beginning of Spring in Japan. It’s also the day when grownups dress up as ogres known as oni and children gleefully throw soybeans at them as a way of ridding their homes of bad luck and bad spirits. The part of the oni is almost always played by the father of the household, a typically overweight, under exercised male who is laughably easy to defeat.

Taking aim at this stereotype is Otsuka Pharmaceuticals, the maker of, amongst other things, soy-based products like Soy Joy and Soy Carat.

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A Detailed Miniature Landscape of Contemporary Japan Sculpted From Kimono Fibers by Takahiro Iwasaki

takahiro iwasaki asia society

Detail of Out of Disorder (Folding Scenery), 2015, by Takahiro Iwasaki from the exhibition “Takahiro Iwasaki: In Focus,” on view at Asia Society Museum, New York, from January 27 to April 26, 2015. Photo: Leise Hook, Asia Society

Cloth fibers, dust and human hair. To most people this is garbage to be swept or vacuumed away. For Hiroshima-based Japanese artist Takahiro Iwasaki, these are his building blocks. He turns trash into sculpture by creating impressive miniature landscapes that often feature factories, ferris wheels and other iconic structures. And now, the artist’s first solo show has opened in New York and is on display at the Asia Society Museum.

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Return To The Origin: A New Salt Sculpture by Motoi Yamamoto in Tokyo

Motoi Yamamoto Return To The Origin

all photos by Cédric Riveau, used with permission | click to enlarge

“My sister passed away from a brain tumor when she was 24,” says Motoi Yamamoto. “That was my origin.” The word ‘origin’ is a reoccurring word in the Japanese artist’s vocabulary. He uses it to refer to the moment in time he began creating his labyrinthine installations of poured salt, as if he had been reborn.

We think of salt primarily as a cooking ingredient but in Japan it’s an element of the Shinto tradition that symbolizes purification. And for the last several years Yamamoto has traveled the world creating sprawling installations of poured salt that resemble mazes, tree roots, whirlpools or the universe. Figuratively and literally one can easily get lost in the intricate installations that are the result of hours of meticulous pouring.

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Contemporary Woodblock Prints by Takuji Hamanaka Create the Illusion of Depth

Takuji Hamanaka woodblock prints

Landsliding (2012) | Japanese woodcut with Gampi paper collage

Brooklyn-based Japanese artist Takuji Hamanaka is steeped in the traditional art of woodblock printing. But after spending years as an apprentice in Japan he decided to move to New York in the 90s where he began incorporating non-traditional elements into his work. “The result,” says Owen James Gallery, who currently running an exhibition of his work, “is an elegant hybrid.”

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Kudamemo: Non-perishable fruit note pads

kudamemo fruit note pad

Here’s some non-perishable fruit that won’t go bad in the mail. Give the gift of fruit in the form of paper note pads. The adorable kudamemo (a pun on the Japanese word for fruit: kudamono) are designed to look just like a juicy apple or pear. But look closely because the adorable fruits are actually slices of paper (150 slices to be exact) printed with a cross-section of the fruit.

And no detail goes overlooked. The designers even used real twigs as the stem of the fruit. And each fruit even comes with its own protective cover that you often see in Japanese supermarkets.

kudamemo fruit note pad

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Tange By Tange: An Exhibition of Architecture Through The Eyes Of The Architect

kenzo tange Kagawa Prefectural Government Office

Kenzo Tange in front of the nearly completed Kagawa Prefectural Government Office. Taken around 1958 by an unknown photographer.

If there was any singular architect who helped shape post-war Japan it was arguably Kenzo Tange. The Japanese architect converted Hiroshima’s barren ground zero into a tranquil peace park (1954), housed 13,00 bureaucrats in the massive New Tokyo City Hall (1991), created the iconic Fuji Television Building (1997), and much more. Now, a new exhibition at Gallery MA in Tokyo looks at the architecture through the eyes of the architect.

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Booooon: Tearable Vehicle Envelopes

Booooon Tearable Vehicle Envelopes

Booooon: When torn open the envelopes create trails of exhaust plumes

Tearable. Not, terrible.

These fun envelopes created by D-bros make opening your envelope just as fun as reading what’s inside. “Booooon!” (an onomatopoeia often used by children to imitate the sound of vehicles) is a set of 3 envelopes that come with illustrations of an automobile, locomotive and airplane. When torn open they create trails of exhaust plumes.

Booooon Tearable Vehicle Envelopes

Booooon Tearable Vehicle Envelopes

Booooon Tearable Vehicle Envelopes

Noma Japan’s Shrimp Are Served Covered In Ants

noma japan shrimp with ants

Chef and restaurateur René Redzepi has temporarily relocated himself and his entire staff to Japan. The highly acclaimed Noma restaurant has kicked off a two-month residency as Noma Japan and are serving diners from the 37th floor of the Mandarin Oriental in Tokyo. Now, if was eating at a restaurant and there were ants on my food I would try not to shriek but I would definitely walk out, not pay and never eat there again. However, at Noma you pay for ants on your food. The first dish that’s served is shrimp with “flavors of the Nagano forest.” And we’re not talking leaves or tree bark. Food writer Robbie Swinnerton explains:

The magic kicks in from the very first course, jumbo shrimp served atop a platter of ice. They are superb, premium sashimi quality and so fresh they’re still dancing their final quivers. But it is the seasoning — “flavors of the Nagano forest” the menu calls it — that defines this dish. A dozen tiny wild black ants are carefully arranged on the shrimp, their little pinpricks of sharp acidity acting as a perfect accent for the sweet, pink flesh.

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