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An Exhibition of Japanese Portable Record Players

japanese portable record players (top)

all photos by Chika Takami

The 1960s ushered in the golden age of record players as affordability made them a staple in almost every household. In Japan however, quality stereo sets remained unattainable for most, who then gravitated to a smaller, more affordable gadget: the portable record player.

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Fascinating Historic Photos of Japan’s Wartime Acoustic Locators


the “Type 90 Large Air Sound Detector” being inspected by Emperor Hirohito (LIFE Magazine, 1936)

Acoustic location is the technology of identifying the location of objects by detecting sound waves they emit. It was quickly adopted by the military in the early 1900s as a way of locating aircrafts and submarines.

Despite being short-lived – the technology was quickly made obsolete by the development of radars – the contraptions, which typically involved large horns connected to the operator’s ears, made for some surreal imagery.

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Shinya Kato Breathes New Life Into Historic Cabinet Cards


Cabinet Cards were a style of portrait photography used in the late 1800s. They typically measured about 4 x 6 inches: large enough to be viewed from across a room when displayed in a cabinet, which is probably why it got that name.

For New York-based artist Shinya Kato, these sepia-toned cards, and the anonymous people of the past captured in the frame, offered a mysterious allure.

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Japanese and Swiss Craftsmanship Come Together to Create the Beautiful Arita-Yaki Wristwatch

arita yaki wristwatch (1)

Japanese Arita-yaki ware, also known as Imari porcelain, can be traced back to the year 1616 when an immigrant Korean potter discovered Kaolinite (the main component of porcelain) and set up kilns in Kyushu, which began producing blue and white porcelain. Today, Arita-yaki is is characterized by its intricate cobalt blue and red glazes, which contrast nicely with the translucent whiteness of the clay. The timelessness of Arita-yaki, now celebrating its 400th birthday, is being honored in a unique and entirely appropriate way: through beautiful Swiss timepieces.

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Music Monday: Sakanaction


Sakanaction is a Japanese rock band formed in 2005 around and fronted by Ichiro Yamaguchi. He’s joined by the rather rare combination of 2 females and 2 males. The band’s name is a portmanteau of the words sakana, meaning fish – chosen also for the words rarity in band names – and action.

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Surreal Acrylic Paintings by Takumi Kama Imagine Animals as Bonsai


“Giant Tortoise Bonsai” by Takumi Kama

A twisted pine tree emerges from a mound of moss, which is actually the shell of a giant tortoise. Couples of birds and frogs sit on the branches while deer and elephants poke their head around the foot of the tree. The tortoise itself grows from a bowl, which sits in the middle of a miniature city. The entire piece, rests on a cabinet, just like any indoor bonsai plant might.

The idyllic, almost Noah’s arc-like settings, are part of a new series of acrylic paintings by Japanese artist Takumi Kama.

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Outsu House: An Ode to Comfiness

outsu house in shiga by alts design (1)

When it comes to sustainable living, there is no universal definition of comfort. Cultural and historical factors are pivotal in determining the way different people might experience comfort in the home from airiness and brightness to even temperatures. For one couple in Japan, a “comfy house” became a keyword as they discussed plans for a new home with their architect.

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Log Road Daikanyama: a retail park where train tracks once ran

log road daikanyama (1)

all photos by Daici Ano | click to enlarge

In 2013, a section of the Tokyu Toyoko Line that runs between Shibuya and neighboring Daikanyama Station was moved from above ground to underground. Miraculously, the feat of Japanese engineering happened overnight, with 1200 technicians working tirelessly, in tandem, to ensure that by the next morning trains would be running. In dense and crowded Tokyo, any reclaimed land is of great value. And Tokyu Corporation had big plans for the 3200 sq m (10500 sq ft) of land where their tracks once ran.

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Imaginary Camouflaged Leaf Insects Painted by Takumi Kama

takumi kama hide-mushi (1)

an imaginary leaf insect: the Hide-mushi

To avoid becoming prey, leaf insects use mimicry to blend into their surroundings. But in Takumi Kama’s imagined future, when the insect’s natural environment has been completely destroyed, these masters of camouflage will have no choice but to move in with those who took away their home.

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Photographer Capture’s Kawau Birds Perched on Electric Wires in Tokyo

yoshinori mizutani kawau birds

The Kawau are large seabirds, not unlike seagulls, that were pushed to the brink of extinction in Japan in the 1970s due to pollution. But in recent years they’ve come back – with a vengeance. Estimates now put the population of Kawau in Japan at as many as 150,000 and last year they were responsible for over 10 billion yen (about $100 million) in damages to the fishing industry because of their voracious appetite for eel and ayu (sweetfish). Recently, the Japanese government even approved the use of drones to stem Kawau population growth and keep them away from fish farms.

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