On a recent Wednesday afternoon, after a thoroughly tiring day of ginbura (roaming the streets of Ginza) we stepped into the elevator of a nondescript building and took it to the second floor. As the doors open and we stepped out, a heavy white canvas noren hung before us, signalling our temporary reprieve from the humidity, the tourists and the taxis.
In Edo-era Japan, several lettering styles known as Edomoji were invented for advertising purposes. One of these was Kakuji, a highly graphic style of lettering that was characterized by rectangular-shaped letters made of of only vertical and horizontal lines. Now, a team of designers have created a typeset called Mashikaku, comprised of over 9000 characters, which takes inspiration from the old letters and brings them into the 21st century.
This may very well be the greatest thing on the internet right now. PPAP, which stands for Pen Pineapple Apple Pen, is an infectiously addictive song and dance created by singer-songwriter Piko-Taro. It has every ingredient for a viral youtube video: a simple but catchy track, an even simpler dance routine, nonsensical lyrics and of course the whole thing is hilarious. Watch the video and then we’ll discuss who exactly this mad genius is.
Utada Hikaru is easily the most well-known musician we’ve written about in this column. After her 1st and 2nd albums (released in 1999 and 2003, respectively) broke all kinds of records in Japan, the artist unexpectedly announced an indefinite leave from music in 2010 to focus on herself. Since then, it’s been a bit of a roller coaster ride for her with her mother’s tragic death in 2013, her marriage in 2014 and then the birth of her son the following year. And now she’s back with a full-length album and we couldn’t be happier for her.
the new “Ginza Place” | photo by Atsushi Nakamichi / Nacasa & Partners
On September 24, 2016, a new landmark building will open in Tokyo’s Ginza district. Three years in the making, Ginza Place replaces the previous Nissan Gallery building and houses Nissan and Sony’s new global flagship showrooms, as well as restaurants and cafes.
“What if the very act of designing is the act of unconsciously simulating the evolution of nature,” asks Eisuke Tachikawa, the founder of Japanese design firm Nosigner. “What if all designs are imitations of nature?” With that hypothesis, Tachikawa presents the evolution of technology an one, astounding, real-life infographic that visually lays out over 100 objects that have been integrated into the iPhone.
Evil Mickey Mouse invades happy islanders and drops a scroll that reads “hand over the island”
Mickey Mouse is one of the most popular cartoon characters in Japan, in line with beloved domestics like Totoro, Doraemon and Hello Kitty. But 80 years ago that certainly wasn’t the case, at least not according to a 1934 propaganda film that cast Mickey as an evil invader that’s come to terrorize a happy island community.
September 21, 2016 / Johnny / Comments Off on The Architects Renovating Rural Japanese Homes and Transforming Them Into Tech Startup Satellite Offices
“Kamiyama Blue Bear Office” renovation completed in 2010 | photos courtesy Kosuke Bando
It’s a common story in rural Japan: low birth rates, an aging population and younger generations’ tendency to relocate to metropolitan areas have left many parts of the country deserted. Beautiful but old homes begin to crumble without proper maintenance, creating a vicious cycle of abandonment.
Gueorgui Tcherednitchenko is a Russian-French photographer who has been living and working in Tokyo since 2011. He originally visited in 2010 and fell in love with the country. The following year, just months after the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, he managed to get a job and made the move.
Ever since David Chu took the reins of Danish silverware and jewelry heritage brand Georg Jensen in 2013, he’s tried to re-position the company away from a lifestyle brand and more towards art and design. Part of his strategy in doing this was to actively collaborate with artists and architects. And Chu did not waste any time as the company has since worked with industrial designer Marc Newson, Spanish designer Patricia Urquila as well as the late architect Zaha Hadid. Now in its 111th year, George Jensen has, for the first time, collaborated with an Asian designer: the famed Japanese architect Kengo Kuma.