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Raw Meat, Cabbage, Moldy Bread, and other things that have inspired Japanese fashion label CUNE

intestines (left), cabbage (middle) and moldy bready (right) are just some of the things that have inspired fashion designer Hironori Yasuda

Don’t call it fashion. At least that’s what Hironori Yasuda will tell you if you ask him about his label CUNE, which he started in 1994. If anything, they’re “barely clothes,” he says.

Yasuda isn’t swayed by trends. He makes what he wants, and each season he picks a seemingly arbitrary theme, one that typically has no place in the world of fashion, and designs his entire collection around it. He doesn’t think about who would wear his clothes, or how they would wear them. In fact, he even says “you don’t have to buy them.” But with two stores in Tokyo, one in Fukuoka and a thriving online shop, people seem to like his bizarre creations.

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Chim↑Pom built a treehouse on the US-Mexico Border

photo by Carolina Miranda/ LA Times

Japanese art collective Chim↑Pom, known for their provocative, politically-charged artwork, has built a tree house along the U.S.-Mexico border. It was built in a private backyard in Tijuana’s Colonia Libertad neighborhood and offers views of the border separating Mexico from the United States

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Nendo and Dentsu Form Alliance, Establish New Business Design Entity Cacdo

Globally recognized design firm Nendo and ad agency Dentsu have entered into a strategic alliance, resulting in a new business design entity called Cacdo.

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Tokyo is Sparkling and Shining with Exhibitions by Tokujin Yoshioka and Mika Aoki

left: Tokuijn Yoshioka | right: Mika Aoki

If you’re a fan of the sparkly and shiny, and you live in Tokyo, you’re in luck. Two (unrelated) exhibitions that opened in January are bringing a prismatic shine and a microscopic sparkle to Tokyo. And they’re just 10 minutes apart.

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Music Monday: The Watanabes

The Watanabes have about as much in common with the popular Japanese surname as the English band The Smiths have with, well, Smith. The 80s English band once said “[The Smiths] was the most ordinary name and I thought it was time that the ordinary folk of the world showed their faces.” And it’s with a similar dedication that British brothers Duncan and Selwyn Walsh decided to form the Watanabes and establish Japan as both their base and muse.

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Kayashima: The Japanese Train Station Built Around a 700 Year Old Tree

a 700-year old camphor tree pokes its head out of Kayashima Station (photo by Kosaku Mimura/Nikkei)

In the Northeast suburbs of central Osaka stands a curious train station unlike any other. Kayashima Station features a rectangular hole cut into the roof of the elevated platform and, from inside, a giant tree pokes its head out like a stalk of broccoli. It’s almost like a railway version of Laputa.

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Anju Miyawaki Used Pressed Flowers to Create Flat Ikebana

“Flat Ikebana” by Anju Miyawaki

If you’ve ever studied ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement, you’ll know that one of the most important principles in orienting your piece is that it must look beautiful from the front. Taking that restriction to heart, and reinterpreting it, Japanese art student Anju Miyawaki created a series of two-dimensional pressed flower arrangements.

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Mechanical Pencil Lead Sculptures by Maho Takahashi

Art student Maho Takahashi has created an intriguing series of sculptures. Simply titled “Lines” the minimal, geometric sculptures utilize only 2 materials: paper and mechanical pencil lead.

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Sculptures of Processed Cylindrical Fruits and Vegetables by Takuma Kamata

“cm-VEGE” by art student Takuma Kamata

Our industrialized economy has consistently evolved to become more rational and efficient to the point that so much of our food is now processed so that it looks the same, tastes the same and can be shipped anywhere in the world. Raw fruits and vegetables are one of the last un-touched frontiers of food but even that is changing with genetic modification.

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Breathing Life Back Into Rakugo, Japan’s Traditional Form of Comedy

a traditional rakugo theater and stage

My kids, 10 and 8, are hooked on rakugo. I never thought I would say that, and it still feels weird that they look forward to watching an ancient (at least for them) form of Japanese comedic storytelling.

Rakugo originated in the 9th and 10th centuries by Buddhist monks who sought to make their sermons more engaging. Rakugo as we know it today was formed around the mid-1800s when the word, which literally means “fallen words” began to be used more commonly.

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