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Miss Hokusai: an animated film that tells the story of an artist lost in her father’s shadow

Last year we wrote an article about Oei Katsushika, the daughter of the famed Ukiyo-e artist Katsushika Hokusai. What we didn’t know at the time was that a Japanese film on that exact subject was just getting ready to be released. Directed by Keiichi Hara (Colorful) and Production I.G (creators of Ghost in the Shell), “Miss Hokusai” is coming to theaters in the U.S. this fall and the trailer was just released.

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Retro Japanese Boomboxes and a Pocketbook

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On the advent of hiphop, with their slick and dazzling chrome surfaces and deafening beats, boomboxes rapidly achieved widespread popularity in the 1980’s. These transistorized tape players presented themselves as objects of empowerment, tempting their owners with dazzling chrome volume dials that could be ramped up to fill an entire street block with deafening noise with a simple flick of the fingers.

Boombox owners would punk-up their stereos by plastering them with stickers of their favourite bands or musical style. On the street, the biggest and most flashy boombox won the most attention from passersby, despite the difficulty of carrying it.

Released in 2010, Japanese Old Boombox Design Catalogue by Emi Itsuno is a softcover collection that details 136 slick pages of Japanese boomboxes with brightly coloured backgrounds. It is the perfect retro-attractive pocket book for boombox enthusiasts everywhere (notwithstanding the written Japanese content). While most of the text is written in Japanese, there is a handy list in the back detailing the production years of each boombox. Scroll down to see more and click here for a whole thread of ’em!

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Blast from the Past: a vintage paradise in Tokyo

Photography by Yasuyuki Takagi

Photography by Yasuyuki Takagi

The call of analogue music is difficult to resist: its siren call convinced Taro Tsunoda, a senior manager at Amazon Japan, to leave a successful corporate career to open Waltz– a cassette paradise. Tsunoda had been collecting cassettes ever since reading Mix Tape: The Art of Cassette Culture in 2004 and by Waltz’s opening in 2015, had amassed an impressive collection of 3,500+ vintage cassette tapes.

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The Japanese Pavilion at the Venice Biennial

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Installation view within the Japan Pavilion. Photo by Ryoko Fujiwara

This year marks the 60th anniversary of Japan’s presence at the 15th Venice Architecture Biennial. The Venice Architecture Biennial, curated by Chilean architect Alejandro Aravena, is organised into themed pavilions from around the world. The Japan Pavilion drew a bustling and curious crowd, including the attention of the President of Singapore!

Commissioned by The Japan Foundation and curated by architecture professor Yoshiyuki Yamana, the Japan Pavilion’s theme is en:art of nexus, contending with the ways architecture can bring positive change to Japan’s current socio-economic troubles beset by recent natural disasters and youth unemployment. In Yamana’s mind, the exhibition’s goal is to present a series of projects that represent individual responses to Japan’s current economic distress, and thus, to suggest a range of solutions that are capable of creating good karma or adjusting preexisting connections in Japanese society.

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Rio 2016 Olympic Infinity Ping-Pong Tables Designed by Shinichi Sumikawa

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These streamlined eye-catching table legs form the contours of an infinity ∞ loop, and are sourced from fallen trees from the Great East Japan Earthquake.

If you’ve ever heard of ping-pong diplomacy between Nixon and China in the Cold War, then you’ll know that ping-pong matches can have the magical affect of thawing tense relations between bickering countries. Also known as table tennis, ping-pong is a popular competitive sport requiring players to have extraordinary hand-eye coordination and instantaneous reflexes.

Have you glimpsed those lovely new ping-pong tables in the Rio 2016 Olympics? San-EI Corporation, a leading Japanese manufacturer of ping-pong tables, had the honour of supplying the tables this year. These tables sport curvaceous wooden legs in lieu of the regular spindly ones, and boasts a new table colour called “Les yeux bleus”, or blue eyes.

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Take 10 minutes for yourself with hibi incense


All over Japan, incense is used for its meditative and purifying qualities, as well as for its important role in spiritual and ancestral rituals, such as lighting incense before greeting ancestors at the family shrine.

As legend would have it, incense first came to Japan when an aromatic log drifted ashore on Awaji Island in 595 CE. After locals discovered its fragrant properties, news quickly spread to governmental officials, and soon burning incense was all the rage amongst Japanese court royalty. Today, Awaji Island produces more than 70% of Japan’s incense!

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Gifu Media Cosmos: Toyo Ito’s Beautiful New Library in Japan

Minna no Mori - Gifu Media Cosmos (FB)

photos courtesy Nippon Design Center

Last year, a brand new community center and library opened to the public in Gifu, located in central Japan. On the morning of the opening ceremony, over 300 people waited out in the rain to see Minna no Mori (“Everyone’s Forest”) Gifu Media Cosmos – the library of the future.

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Park Pens: twigs packaged to look like stationery

Sato Nezi Park Pens (1)

The ground was the canvas and twigs were our paint brushes. We would search for the perfect fallen branch – not too thin that it would snap, but not too thick that it was uncomfortable – to create wonderful compositions in the dirt. Just thinking about it makes me want to be a kid again. Which is what Japanese art director Nezi Sato was surely thinking when he came up with his playful and hopelessly charming project, Park Pens.

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Inside the New Offices of Japanese Fashion Giant Start Today

Start Today Aoyama Office (1)

photos by Koji Fujii / Nacasa and Partners Inc.

Start Today is Japan’s 3rd largest fashion company and operator of the country’s largest e-commerce site Zozotown. And it’s made only more famous by Yusaku Maezawa, the founder and now one of Japan’s youngest billionaires who made headlines in May for a shopping spree at a Christie’s auction where he snapped up almost $100 million worth of art.

Less than 6 months earlier, Maezawa’s company continued its expansion by opening up a new office in the posh Aoyama district of Tokyo.

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Yuri Uenishi’s Beautifully Minimalist Ad for Ping-Pong

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Table Tennis, or Ping Pong, as it is more affectionately called, is heating up over in Rio. In fact, “it was the most fun I’ve had at the Games so far,” said a writer for Wired who is over there now. And as Japan’s own Ai Fukuhara advances to the quarterfinals, Ping Pong is shaping up to make quite an impact.

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