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Let’s Talk Shit | an exhibition about poop and toilets at Miraikan

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The children are literally being flushed down the toilet at Miraikan’s latest exhibition, which features a ladder leading up to a gigantic toilet. Kids, adorned with a poop-hat to heighten the experience, can ascend up to the toilet and climb in to really get a sense for what it’s like to be on the receiving end of our daily discharge. It’s all part of “Toilet!? — Human Waste & Earth’s Future,” which just went on display last week at the Miraikan.

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Nendo Designs Winnie the Pooh Coasters and Lids

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After successfully collaborating with Walt Disney Japan on a series of furniture inspired by Winnie the Pooh, Nendo, led by designer Oki Sato, is back at it again. This time they’ve designed some irresistibly cute coasters and bottle stoppers/lids featuring everyone’s favorite bear.

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KAWS New Brooklyn Studio by Masamichi Katayama

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All photos by NACÁSA & PARTNERS INC. | courtesy Wonder Wall

The artist Brian Donnelly, aka KAWS, got his early start by defacing New York billboards. But he’s grown up a lot. He now runs his own company (which is actually based in Toyko), he creates high-priced artwork, and he just recently moved into a new studio in Williamsburg that looks a lot more like an upscale gallery.

After purchasing an old derelict building on North 9th Street (right next to Paws and Claws Veterinary Hospital – am I the only one who finds that funny?) for about one million, he recruited Tokyo-based architect Masamichi Katayama of Wonder Wall to renovate it. This isn’t the first collaboration between the two. Back in 2006 Katayama designed the Original Fake store in Tokyo.  “Unlike the solid, brick facade that blends well into the neighborhood, the interior is a vastly open space,” says Katayama. “This bright, extensive openness illuminated with toplight is a result of the artist’s request to create large paintings under natural light.”

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WORK WORK SHOP | a new experimental workplace in Tokyo

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“Today is the future,” says the ifs future laboratory, an initiative started last year by itochu fashion system (ifs). Earlier this month they took one more step towards that motto by opening WORK WORK SHOP, a new collaborative workspace that aims to change the way we think, interact, work and collaborate. The space will be made available to brands and companies to conduct workshops, focus groups or simply interact with others, like-minded or not.

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kokuyo ifs work work shop kokuyo ifs work work shop

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Golugo Matsumoto Teaches Juvenile Delinquents The Value of Life Through Kanji

For the past three years Japanese comedian Gorugo Matsumoto has been traveling around Japan giving lectures to juvenile delinquents locked up in some of Japan’s 52 detention centers. “I was curious what kind of kids where there, and for what reason and what crime,” says Matsumoto on his blog, which has been gaining attention as he writes and reflects on his visits.

On a recent TV show that aired June 30, 2014, cameras followed Matsumoto and documented one of his “classes.” He was teaching the 2000-year old logographic characters known as Kanji, which make up Japan’s writing system. But as Matsumoto showed, with deft and humor, they don’t just represent words. Upon closer observation they’re infused with values and wisdom passed down from our ancient ancestors.

You can watch the full clip above but I’ve translated and summarized a few of Matsumoto’s primary examples:

 

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Kanji:
Meaning: to run away
Significance: the kanji is made up from the radicals 辶 (meaning road or path) and 兆 (meaning dawn, horizon or sign of change). If you’re scared or sense danger it’s ok to run away. It’s ok to change course. Your destination remains the same but you’re just taking a different path to get there.

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Artist Hikaru Cho Transforms Guys Into Hollywood Stars

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photos courtesy the artist

Hikaru Cho Hollywood

Hikaru Cho Hollywood

Hyperrealistic Japanese painter Hikaru Cho has been continuing her investigation into transforming and disguising common foods as other food. But she’s recently taken her talent and pointed to another subject: the everyday dude.

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Zoo Jeans | animals create distressed denim to help raise money for their zoo

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Some people take showers while wearing their denim to get that worn-in look. Others use sandpaper to fast-forward time and achieve instantly-vintage jeans. But a new, innovative method is putting all those old ways to shame. The tools? Lions and tigers and bears, oh my!

Zoo Jeans are the only jeans on earth designed by dangerous animals,” says Mineko Club, a volunteer group of zoo supporters who came up with the idea to help raise money for the zoo and animal conservation. “We first take their favorite playthings – old tires and giant rubber balls – and wrap them in sheets of denim.”

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Millions of water drops collide to show the sound of rain

What is the sound of rain? It’s a simple question with a seemingly simple answer. But how do you prove that a single drop of water, when accumulated by the millions, will actually sound like rain? Digital mastermind Yugo Nakamura (previously) set out to prove this in a video titled “Amaoto no Yurai,” or The Origin of The Sound of Rain.

The designer set out by recording the sound and motion of water drops falling on different objects – everything from soil, rock, tree and leaf to brick and skin. As expected, each sound was unique and didn’t even come close to what we recognize as the sound of rain. But when the sounds were combined – first 2-fold, then 4-fold and exponentially larger – the result seems to speak for itself. But be your own judge and have a listen.

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The video was created for the TV Program TECHNE, which gives a behind-the-scenes look at the creative techniques employed by the motion graphics industry.

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Hayama no Mori Nursing Home by Kengo Kuma

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Let it be known, for the record, that if my kids ever decide to put me in a nursing home I want it to look like this one. It’s actually a brand new extension to the Hayama Hills nursing home in Kanagawa and was designed by architect Kengo Kuma. It’s located on a peninsula right near Zushi and Kamakura.

They plan to offer full physical therapy (sounds good to me!) within that beautifully timber-clad building. And an impressive floor-to-ceiling lattice-work library of books promises to keep us occupied in our years of retirement. The only thing is, admissions start at around $2500 per month so I better start saving up now.

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Desktop Fireworks Lets You Have a Party at Your Desk

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Confetti, firecrackers, bubbles and a disco ball. These are all ingredients for an awesome party but not something you would find in an office or cubicle. Unless of course you’re talking about “Desktop Fireworks,” a series of fun lights and noisemakers concealed as ordinary stationary supplies you would find on a desk. Conceived by UK-based Japanese designer Tomomi Sayuda, the party is only activated by pressing the big emergency style button, which releases an orchestra of light, music, bubbles, confetti and thus relieves stress at the workplace. “The button should only be pressed at times of extreme stress,” warns Sayuda.

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Although seemingly all fun and games, the project actually presents a dark cautionary tale. “This is dedicated to my father Kenichi Sayuda, who committed suicide on 8th July 1995 – aged 37, due to his stress at work,” says Sayuda. Japan is perhaps one of the only countries that has a specific word for occupational death – karoshi (過労死) is literally “death from overwork” while karojisatsu (過労自殺) is “suicide from overwork” – and is also one of the few that has the need to report it in statistics as a separate category.

According to government data (PDF), in 2012 there were 285 reported deaths in Japan attributed to overwork. This actually represented the first decline in 3 years after rising to a peak of 302 in 2011. Let’s all take a moment to put life in perspective and remember Sayuda’s important message: when you feel the stress, just hit the emergency buttons and have a party!

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(thank you Tomomi-san!)

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