Titanium Tumbler Brand SUS Gallery’s New Shop in Aoyama

SUS Gallery is a Japanese lifestyle brand that specializes in handmade titanium bowls and tumblers. The brand leverages the age-old craftsmanship of artisans of Tsubame City in Niigata prefecture, along with the technology required to mold the material, resulting in unique pieces that delicately balance utilitarian charm with luxurious beauty.

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New Public Library in Nasushiobara City is a Forest of Aphorisms

Residents of Nasushiobara City, about 2 hours north of Tokyo, were in for a treat when a new public library opened in late 2020. Nicknamed Mirumiru, the library is a spacious, two-story structure that takes inspiration from mori, or forest, a keyword from the local community’s identity.

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Magical Ice Bubbles Appear on the Surface of Lake Nukabira in Hokkaido

Lake Nukabira, located in central Hokkaido, has become a fantastical canvas for one of nature’s most artistic phenomenons. Gas and other substances at the bottom of the lake freeze as they rise to the surface, becoming trapped in multiple layers and creating a multi-dimensional installation of “ice bubbles.”

The region itself gets heavy snowfall so the ice bubbles typically remain hidden to everyone. But this year the phenomenon has shown itself and photographers have been flocking to the lake to capture the rare sight. Some of our favorites are below.

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Hedgehog Mobile Home Lets You Carry Your Pet Pygmy Wherever You Go

Over the last several years, the domesticated hedgehog, typically the African pygmy hedgehog, has become a popular option as a household pet in Japan, thanks to social media. One hedgehog owner in Japan loved her pet so much she decided to design a miniature mobile home so she could take it with her wherever she went.

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Junya Ishigami Sculpts Sloping Plaza for Students at Kanagawa Institute of Technology

all photos courtesy Junya Ishigami + Associates

In 2008, the architect Junya Ishigami completed a workshop for students at his hometown university: the Kanagawa Institute of Technology (KAIT). Ishigami’s KAIT Workshop would go on to to make him the youngest ever recipient of the Architectural Institute of Japan Prize and cemented his reputation as one of Japan’s most luminary architects. But the same year KAIT Workshop was completed, another set of plans had been put into motion: a project for a student plaza. Thirteen years later, KAIT Plaza has now been completed.

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U.S.-Japan Face Mask Design Contest 2020

*this post is sponsored by Japan Foundation New York, Center for Global Partnership*

Calling all creative amateur artists! Create an original design for a face mask that represents the U.S.-Japan connection. “Mask Up 2020” is an original face mask design contest sponsored by The Japan Foundation that is open to amateur creators of all ages, from children to adults. Along with an advisory committee – which includes judges from UNIQLO, Parsons School of Design, and Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum – contest participants will also decide the winning designs.

The winning designs will win prizes (gift cards for Kinokuniya Books and Blick Art Materials) and be printed on masks and distributed to medical institutions and nonprofit Japan-related organizations such as Japan-America Societies, Japanese Gardens, etc.; winners will receive 25 of their designed face masks.

  • Deadline: January 22, 2021 by 6:00pm (EST)
  • Voting and Judging: February 8-17, 2021 (EST)
  • Winners Announced: March 1, 2021, live on Japan Foundation’s YouTube channel.

Japanese Designer New Year’s Cards of 2021

Akemashite omedetougozaimasu. Happy New Year! It’s the year of the ox, a beautifully calm animal. Strong yet gentle; reliable, fair and conscientious. I know there are many, including us, who are looking forward to a new year and hopefully many traits of the oxen will show themselves throughout the year. As tradition holds, here at S&T we like to start off the new year by admiring some New Year’s cards (nangajo) and artwork created by some of our favorite Japanese artists and designers.

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Tsuchiya Kaban Creates Leather Bag Specifically for Carrying Snowpal

Japanese leather bagmaker Tsuchiya Kaban has created a hand-crafted leather bag whose sole purpose to to carry one miniature yukidaruma (snowpal, in Japanese). With smooth, clean lines, high quality, water-resistant leather and a thermally insulated polyester inner lining, the bag ensures you and your snow sculpture will arrive in style.

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Spoon & Tamago’s Most Popular Posts of 2020

What. A. Year.

As we reflect upon our 13th year of blogging, there’s one thing we’ve learned for sure: just as you think you’re sailing smoothly, life has a way of upending everything you’ve become accustomed to. But regardless of the challenges, we’re thankful that we’ve been able to continue doing what we do, and proud of the new challenges we’ve taken on. In addition to our daily coverage of Japan, this year we launched a membership program – thank you to everyone who has already joined!

Our shop faced its own unique challenges: although it was a strong year for online shopping, when Japan Post halted overseas shipping, our shelves quickly emptied out and we ran out of inventory. That’s when my partner and in-house seamstress began making face masks. Her level of craftsmanship and attention to detail quickly won over fans and she single-handedly carried our shop through much of the year, while also helping so many stay safe!

Whether you read one of our articles, purchased something from our shop or became a Spoon & Tamago member, thank you so, so much for your support this year! We’re so happy to have been able to be your connection to Japan during a year defined by distancing and isolation.

Read on for our 10 most popular posts of 2020.

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1000 Handmade Mizuhiki Cord Balls Embedded with LED Lights Forms this Christmas Tree in Tokyo

photo courtesy Kitte Marunouchi

The KITTE department store just outside Tokyo Station is known for their annual effort to stage a beautifully designed Christmas tree. But this year they’ve outdone themselves, collaborating with artisans from Iida City in Nagano to craft a Christmas tree made from 1000 mizuhiki cord balls, each embedded with LED lights and suspended in midair.

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