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Haunting Photographs of Japanese Vending Machines at Night

Vending machines in Japan were first introduced in 1888 and sold cigarettes. But their proliferation has been astounding and the country now has an estimated 5.5 million vending machines nationwide. Its penetration rate is the highest in the world with roughly 1 vending machine for every 23 people. In fact, they’ve become so ubiquitous and common that they blend in with Japan’s landscape. Maybe that’s why it takes an outsider to shine a light on them.

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Samurai Pet Armor is Here to Prepare Your Cats and Dogs for Battle

A suited-up Shiba Inu in custom-made armor | all photos courtesy of SAMURAI AGE

While it’s been over 150 years since the heyday of the samurai class, the fascination with them lives on. The talented craftsmen at SAMURAI AGE are doing their part to honor samurai tradition with handmade, high-quality samurai armor for you and your pets.

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‘The Restaurant of Order Mistakes’ Employs Waiters With Dementia

 

the playful logo with a tongue sticking out and one of the characters (る) written sideways

On Friday last week, a curious restaurant popped up in Tokyo’s Toyosu district. It was called “The Restaurant of Order Mistakes” (注文をまちがえる料理店), a twist on The Restaurant of Many Orders, Kenji Miyazawa’s 1924 tale. Sure, it’s clever, but why a name for a restaurant? Because this pop-up restaurant had an inclusively-driven mission, and had hired waiters with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

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Hiroshi Sugimoto’s Enoura Observatory to Open This Fall

Hiroshi Sugimoto looking out on the Sagami Bay at the Enoura Observatory | all photos courtesy Odawara Art Foundation

After ten years in the making, photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto’s Enoura Observatory is set to officially open this October in the city of Odawara. We should actually call him photographer “and architect” because he’s the chief mastermind behind the project.

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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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