All photos by Kenta Hasegawa
Established in 1957 in Saga prefecture, Maruhiro is a family-owned business that produces hasamiyaki ceramics. Six years since the renovation of their flagship store, the company has embarked on a new initiative to help cultivate a sense of community in their town. They’ve renovated an 86-year old Japanese-style townhouse to function as an office, showroom, community kitchen and artist residency space.
installation photo by Takumi Gunji
At the Contemporary Art Foundation in Tokyo recently, a number of monumental wooden carvings were artfully aligned along the tiled concrete floor. Bulging on the ends and contracting towards the middle like a dumbell, the ragged carvings were part of an exhibition by artist Aki Inomata titled “How to Carve a Sculpture.” In a corner, a similar carving was placed sideways on the floor surrounded by wood chips, clear remnants of the process. But what exactly was the process? And what is the intent of the artist? Visitors soon learn that the carvings are actually the work of beavers whom the artist had enlisted as production assistants with help from several zoos around Japan.
What if we took something inherently disposable and redesigned it around disposability? That was the idea behind CYQL PROJECT, an initiative by graphic designer Kenya Hara’s Nippon Design Center (previously) to propose an alternative to Japan’s massive single-use plastics industry.
The mailbox with the earth roof house in the background
Lewis & Marilyn are an Australian couple that worked in the film industry for many years making props and miniatures. They became interested in Japanese pop culture in the mid 80s, consuming any VHS tapes they could get their hands on, which they supplemented with printed sheets of fan-translated dialogue. They soon discovered Hayao Miyazaki and were engulfed into his world of characters. But it was Totoro that would go on to become the couple’s all-time favorite, and the inspiration behind their “dream studio” built amidst the bush trees of the Blue Mountains.
Disposable chopsticks are clean, fast and cheap, but the environmental pollution caused by them is also a major problem. Japanese designer Keiji Ashizawa is taking that problem and reorienting it in a way that frames the issue not as waste but rather just wasted resources. An innovative yet simple design imagines disposable chopsticks reused as lamp shades.
We’ve all been there — you’re in a quiet meeting or class and suddenly your stomach begins to growl. You can regret skipping breakfast all you want but it’s not going to quiet things down. But now, thanks to Japanese stationery company Eins Corp, you can scarf down your notes. Just make sure they’re not important!
Butterflies can sometimes be found sipping moisture from puddles or wet soil after a rain. The process, seen here in the image above, is known as “puddling.” Except this image is not a real-life butterfly, nor are the puddles made from real water. The scene has been sculpted entirely from wood by Japanese artist Toru Fukuda.
I haven’t had a good pillow fight in a long time but these posters, created as key visuals for Japan’s National Pillow Fight Contest, are making me want to invite some friends over for a sleepover and start swinging. They feature Olympic gymnast Airi Hatakeyama in a series of poses the represent the pillars of pillow fighting: throw, dodge and defend.
Kenichi Nakaya is a Japanese artist and sculptor based in Hokkaido who repairs arts and crafts. But he also has a side-hustle he calls “folklore,” which is an ongoing series in which he takes ubiquitous and often kitschy Japanese rural crafts and reconfigures them into unique, contemporary works of art.
Join us next month on June 18, 2021 (EST) for an intimate talk with kintsugi and ceramic artist Tomomi Kamoshita. Kintsugi — literally ‘golden joinery’ — is the traditional Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with a mix of gold powder and Japanese lacquer called urushi to seal it back together. Based in Tokyo, Tomomi will discuss the history and philosophy of kintsugi, as well as share her modern practice of kintsugi and yobitsugi, which is her style of inventing objects from broken ceramic pieces in an artful mosaic rather than repairing broken pots. We even have some of her one-of-a-kind piece in the shop right now!
The online lecture will be available to Spoon & Tamago members. Already a member? Awesome! Members will automatically be receiving a link by email to join. Leading up to the talk, members will also get an exclusive look inside the studio space where Tomomi creates her work, as well as early access to several coveted pieces we’ll be selling in our shop. Not a member? Consider joining us and getting access to this talk, as well as many other perks!
Online Member Lecture Series with Tomomi Kamoshita
WHEN: June 18, 2021 (EST) | 8:00 – 9:00 PM
WHERE: Zoom Meeting
HOW TO JOIN: All members will be receiving an email with a link to join the meeting.