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Remembering Illustrator Noriyoshi Ohrai Through His Iconic Movie Posters

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the original artwork for a Star Wars poster printed in Japan to commemorate the release of a dubbed version of the original film in 1982

We were saddened to learn that yesterday, on October 27, 2015, Japanese illustrator and oil painter Noriyoshi Ohrai passed away from pneumonia. He was 79. The iconic artist was an art student dropout who began his career in 1962 illustrating book covers and newspaper advertisements. His big break came when he was 45 years old. An illustration he did of the movie Star Wars for an obscure Japanese science fiction magazine made its way to the hands of George Lucas, who liked it so much he commissioned Ohrai to create the universal poster for the movie’s sequel: The Empire Strikes Back.

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Art Students Recreate 100 Images of a Wolf Deity Lost in a Fire in Fukushima

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art students meticulously work to recreate the lost images of a wolf deity

The village of Iitate was one of many that had to be evacuated due to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster and subsequent widening of the radiation exclusion zone. The village, to this day, remains closed off and when a small fire broke out in 2013, there was no one around to put it out. By the time a nearby fire station responded, the 11th century Yamatsumi Shrine had been burnt to the ground, taking with it roughly 240 images of a wolf deity that had watched over the village for almost 1000 years.

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Any Tokyo: An Exhibition of Futuristic Design at a 600-Year Old Temple

any tokyo shizuku (main)

It’s been observed that Japan is a country of contradictions: calm yet chaotic; modern yet traditional. So it makes perfect sense that Any Tokyo, an exhibition bringing “tomorrow’s applied design and ideas together under one roof” will be held at Zojo-ji, a Buddhist temple that was founded in present-day Tokyo in 1393. Now in it’s 3rd year, the Exhibition will run from October 24 – November 3, 2015. We’ve selected a few of our favorite projects you’ll get to see at Any Tokyo including a chandelier inspired by the moment of conception, feather-weight lacquerware and a table built like military equipment.

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Kokki: Flag-Shaped Tableware to Promote Culinary Interculturalism


Yuhei Yamamoto’s “kokki” are a series of tableware shaped like flags

Kokki (国旗) is the Japanese word for national flag, but it’s also the title of a new series of tableware that includes four rectangular, white porcelain plates, each with unique dividers that create the outline of several well-known national flags. “By placing various national foods on other national flags, you can mix borders and cultures on the dinner table,” says designer Yuhei Yamamoto. In other words, it’s a melting plate of cultures!

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Dizzying Birds-Eye Views of Imaginary Cityscapes by Daisuke Tajima

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“gokinchotaikoku” (2015) by Daisuke Tajima. 194 × 334 cm

Don’t stand too close to Daisuke Tajima’s paintings. It’s pretty easy to lose yourself. Using just a black ink pen the 22-year old artist creates impossibly intricate and vertigo-inducing birds-eye view paintings of cityscapes. And his paintings aren’t small. Many of them are larger than the artist himself.

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Moon Parka: Outerwear Made From Synthetic Spider Silk

spiber moon parka

Stronger than steel and more flexible than nylon, spider silk is said to be the toughest material on earth. For the past 11 years a Japanese company has been attempting to harness that strength to create a new type of material with unprecedented versatility. They’ve now unveiled their working prototype: the Moon Parka.

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Soto: Japanese Sake Redesigned For an Overseas Audience

soto sake

“Soto,” meaning ‘outside’ in Japanese, is a new premium sake that’s been developed for a western audience

Faced with flat-lining domestic demand for their Sake, Japanese breweries have been increasingly looking for opportunities overseas to grow as their own population shrinks. And some breweries are turning to graphic designers to help rebrand and create a more appealing, more impactful product for those who find sake esoteric and inaccessible.

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Stock: A New Shared Office in Tokyo Designed Around Food and Community

STOCK share office by Salt Design

all photos by Yoshiro Masuda | click to enlarge

When STOCK opened last month in Tokyo it was clear that the 4-storied structure was much more than a co-working space. With a disproportionately large kitchen, STOCK and all its small details from the furniture to the orientation of offices were designed to bring people together, rather than having them work in isolation.

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Yakumo Saryo: an exquisite teahouse and restaurant designed by Shinichiro Ogata

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If you want to treat yourself to something special, head to the quiet neighborhood of Yakumo in Meguro, Tokyo where an unsuspectingly exquisite restaurant awaits. Originally opened in 2009 and perched on top of a hill, Yakumo Saryo offers a humble yet intricate dining experience that emphasizes ingredients and craftsmanship.

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100 Cross-Sections of a Tree Hand-Drawn and Then Photographed Into a Stunning Stop-Motion


In 1986 a bar opened up in the heart of Tokyo. It was called Heartland and it quickly became the local favorite watering hole in its Roppongi neighborhood. It flourished in the 90s and early 2000s and, in collaboration with major brewery Kirin, even developed their own Heartland Beer. The minimalistic emerald-green bottle bared almost no packaging; only a large tree and roots embossed in glass on the side of the bottle.

The bar has since closed down but the beer lives on, and is offered at 100 restaurants around Japan. To commemorate the beer’s heritage a group of designers took on a painstakingly meticulous art project.

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