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The Handbook of Japanese Beans

Did you know that Japan has almost 200 different varieties of beans? Food writer Kiyomi Hasegawa traversed all of Japan to bring you this wonderfully laid out typology of Japanese beans.

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Reimagining the Design Event at Tokyo’s ‘Designart’

Conveniently coinciding with Tokyo Fashion Week is Tokyo’s newest event celebrating contemporary art and design, aptly named ‘Designart.’ After its predecessor Tokyo Design Week permanently closed following the death of a five-year old at an exhibit in 2016, Designart’s creators sought to fill the void in Tokyo’s modern art and design scene. The result is a sprawling week-long event spread across multiple Tokyo neighborhoods with over 70 exhibitions covering all aspects of design from fashion to photography to technology.

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Preserving the Art of Traditional Japanese Indigo Dyeing

all photos courtesy BUAISOU

Some things never go out of style; just ask the four artisans behind the group BUAISOU who still use natural centuries-old Japanese indigo dyeing techniques for their creations today. A recent mention in Vogue proves that this “Japan Blue” is still highly fashionable. And judging by the vibrant hues Japanese indigo dye produces, it’s no surprise why.

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Stray Cats Captured in Martial Arts Poses by Hiroyuki Hisakata

Armed with an Olympus digital camera and a bag full of cat toys, Japanese photographer Hiroyuki Hisakata ventures off to an island populated by stray cats to photograph his feline friends. Hisakata’s specialty? Playing with them and capturing them in dynamic martial arts poses that have earned them the nickname Ninja Cats.

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MinimLET: A Portable Toilet Kit Designed for Disaster Preparedness

In the event of a natural disaster, a person’s most basic needs — food, water, shelter, electricity — are often compromised. But one necessity often overlooked is the availability of working toilets. In the wake of recent natural disasters in Japan such as the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami and the Kumamoto earthquakes of 2016, Tokyo-based design company nendo teamed up with hardware supplier Sugita-Ace to combat this problem by designing a simple, innovative portable toilet kit they’ve dubbed the minimLET.

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Yokainoshima: Charles Fréger’s Photos of Monsters in Japanese Folklore

Biccharu: Ogawaji, Uozu, Toyama Prefecture | all photos © 2016 Charles Fréger

In Japanese folklore, yōkai are the various supernatural beings — most often malevolent — that inhabit the natural world and play tricks on unsuspecting humans. French photographer Charles Fréger traveled to several remote Japanese villages over a period of two years to document the kinds of yōkai portrayed in local rituals and festivals. What he captured was the cultural diversity in a nation commonly mistaken by outsiders to be homogeneous.

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Japanese Man Used Bonsai Techniques to Grow Marijuana

A 35-year old janitor living in Osaka was arrested at his home last month for growing and selling marijuana. It’s a fairly rare incident in Japan but what really caught our eye was the unique techniques that the man used.

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Mobile Lifestyle Products Inspired by Ancient Japanese Living

historical art and photographs that informed the mobility products

During Edo period Japan, fires frequently broke out, forcing citizens to quickly relocate their entire lives. But it wasn’t just fires. Situated on an active fault line and surrounded by sea, citizens of Japan were always aware of the imminent dangers posed by earthquakes and tsunamis, a mindset that led to the development of mobility culture.

People shunned the idea of owning heavy furniture and, instead, opted for a more minimal lifestyle by sleeping on futons and wrapping and carrying their belongings in furoshiki. A new brand of products is proposing a return to such a culture, and has launched a suite of products inspired by their ancestors.

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This Digital Greenhouse Just Sprouted Up in Central Tokyo

Twenty years ago you could walk through Tokyo and stumble across small plots of farmland. And a small stand would sell fresh vegetables that had just been harvested. Those urban farms have virtually disappeared. But now, in one of the most unlikely spots, a farm encapsulated by a digital, technicolor greenhouse, has sprouted up, and is welcoming visitors in to smell, touch and learn about agriculture.

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Wafrica: Japanese Kimonos Inspired by West African Culture

Tribal, animistic, sophisticated and codified. Although Japan and West Africa are oceans apart, these were some of the similarities that art director Serge Mouangue identified during his trip to Japan back in 2007. And in hindsight, this was the birth of Wafrica: an African kimono that blends Japanese refinement and attention to detail with West African rhythmic density and vibration.

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