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Music Monday: Frederic

Frederic is a Kobe-base band formed around twin brothers Kenji and Koji Mihara. Their name comes from Leo Lionni’s 1967 illustrated children’s book of the same name. But before we even knew that my kids and I stumbled upon one of the band’s older songs from 2014 called oddloop. The upbeat, infectious track has been on heavy rotation in casa spoon & tamago. Have a listen below.

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Sony’s New toio Wants to Inspire a Future Generation of Robotics Engineers

Build, play, inspire. That’s the idea behind Sony’s new toy for kids, designed to inspire a future generation of robotics engineers. Toio is the result of 5 years of research into developing a toy that’s simple enough for kids to use, but also sophisticated enough to create a figurative sandbox where kids can explore the inner-workings of robotics engineering.

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Plans for a Ghibli Theme Park Finalized, Opening Set for 2020

the current Aichi Memorial Park will be renovated and transformed into “Ghibli Park” by 2020

Yesterday in Japan, Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki met with Governor Hideaki Omura of Aichi prefecture and the two agreed on plans to move forward with “Ghibli Park.” Detailed plans have yet to be released but a timeline has been established with an opening date sometime in 2020.

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Keiko Otsuhata Created Pigeon Heels to Befriend the Pigeons of Ueno Park

Many great ideas in Japan are often inspired by a simple pun. Such was the case for designer Keiko Otsuhata, who was thinking about pigeons one day when the word “hato-heel” jumped into her head. Hato is Japanese for pigeon, and, while acknowledging that it’s rather weak as a pun, she began imagining what hato-heels might look like, and whether or not she could camouflage her feet as pigeons.

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Music Monday: Kandytown

Yes, I know it’s not Monday. But yesterday was a holiday so consider this a rollover “Music Monday” post. In conjunction with our earlier article on the exhibition of photos documenting the rise of Japanese Hip Hop, we thought we’d kick off the week by listening to something from the genre. Kandytown is a 16-member troupe of MCs, DJs and track makers.

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An Exhibition of Photography Documenting the Rise of Japanese Hip Hop

Japanese rapper MACCHO (from Ozrosaurus) | all photos by Cherry Chill Will

One weekend in 1996 when I was in high school some friends and I walked into a record shop in Shibuya and heard something that would alter the trajectory of our adolescent lives. The track was Ningenhatsudenjo (“human power generator”) and the group was Buddha Brand. The sound was raw, relatable and, best of all, undiscovered. Or at least that’s how it felt. We immediately bought the record but what we didn’t realize at the time is that we had stepped right into the rumblings of the burgeoning Japanese Hip Hop scene. And it was about to erupt.

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The Mysterious Japanese Ambigrams of Issei Nomura

the sculpture depicts the kanji for sun (陽) but when lit at the right angle, casts a shadow of the character for shadow (陰)

An ambigram is a word or phrase that can be interpreted differently depending on the angle or orientation that it’s viewed. It can make for some pretty cool trick-art, which is why artist Issei Nomura finds it so intriguing.

One piece in particular that he created in 2013, which has been making the rounds on social media, is quite fascinating. The metallic sculpture depicts the kanji character for sun (陽). But when a light is cast at just the right angle the shadow depicts the kanji for shadow (陰), poetically rendering the phrase 陰と陽, or Yin and yang.

The 27-year old artist is based in Toyama prefecture where he pursues his interest in ambigrams while also creating custom-made ambigrams for brands, corporations and individuals. Obviously his own logo is an ambigram too. The dark letters spell のむら (Nomura) while the negative space inside spells いっせい (Issei).

You can see more of his work over on Netgeek, as well as on Issei’s own site.


the artist’s own name as ambigram

Spoonful is a category of news on Spoon & Tamago that provides short, lighthearted stories on Japanese art, design and culture.

Psychedelic, Graffiti-Inspired Artwork by Yoshi47

Dr. Seuss meets Tim Burton is one of the many ways to describe the psychedelic artwork of Japanese artist Yoshi47. His signature motif is a deranged, smiling (but also sometimes frowning) sun with a mouthful of teeth that reminds you of the Cheshire Cat.

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Dad Turns Daughter’s Artwork into Adorable Bento Box

all photos courtesy Takafumi Ozeki

Takafumi Ozeki is definitely a contender for the 2017 Dad of the Year Award. Ozeki often makes bento box lunches for his daughter to take to preschool. He attempts to create adorable kyara-ben (character bento) that feature his daughter’s verbal requests for some of her favorite TV characters or animals.

But recently his daughter created a drawing and asked her Dad to turn it into a bento box. Ozeki was up for the challenge, and translated the sweet drawing into a unique and creative bento box. The result was quite wonderful and the daughter was incredibly happy, said Ozaki on Twitter. But he expressed concern that the teacher, not aware of the back story, may think he’s deranged.

Ozeki, when not making adorable bento boxes for his daughter, is one half of the Japanese comedy duo The Geese.

Spoonful is a category of news on Spoon & Tamago that provides short, lighthearted stories on Japanese art, design and culture.

Artless Craft Tea & Coffee Nakameguro

the new Artless Tea & Coffee opened in Nakameguro on May 12, 2017

Just about 1 year ago Shun Kawakami’s branding agency artlessInc. opened a tea & coffee stand in Harajuku. But they recently relocated to a larger, cooler space under the Nakameguro train tracks. And by doing so, have completed their trifecta – an integrated coffee shop, branding office and gallery – all in one space.

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