Kadokawa Musashino Museum Designed by Kengo Kuma

unless otherwise noted, all photos by Matthew Waldman

On August 1, 2020, Tokorozawa Sakura Town, a new suburban development in the northwestern outskirts of Tokyo, welcomed the opening of one of their major components: the Kadokawa Musashino Museum. Part museum and part library, the monolithic granite structure was designed by Kengo Kuma and developed by Kadokawa, a major publisher of manga and light novels.

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Amayadori: Tadao Ando’s Circular Public Restroom Incorporates an Engawa

The Tokyo Toilet project continues to make progress with the latest designer public restroom by Tadao Ando (previously) opening last week. Ando’s design features a circular floorplan with a spanning roof and engawa which, in Japanese architecture, is an edging strip of space on the outside of the building that occupies an area in between the interior and exterior.

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Stay Connected to Japan with Kokoro Care Packages

*this post is sponsored by Kokoro Care Packages*

Kokoro Care Packages is a subscription box service offering hand-crafted packages filled with authentic Japanese foods delivered straight from Japan to your door. Although there are various Japanese subscription boxes on the market, Kokoro Care Packages stands out through their high-quality selection of foods that emphasize local farmers and producers. If you’re missing Japan right now and unsure when you’ll be able to travel there, Kokoro Care Packages is a great way to stay connected to the country!

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The 2021 Japan Packaging Design Awards

Japan has a rich history of packaging design that dates back hundreds of years and rooted in a tradition of gift-giving. Before industrial materials like plastic and cardboard, gifts were wrapped in straw, bamboo, leaves and paper: an art unto itself that lives on today in the form of products often wrapped in as many physical as symbolic layers.

Every two years the JPDA (Japan Packaging Design Association) celebrates excellence in packaging design by hosting the Japan Packaging Design Awards. The winners of the 2021 Awards were just announced and can be all viewed here (PDF) but we’ve put together some of our favorites!

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Long-Exposure Photographs of Torii Shrine Gates by Ronny Behnert

Torii on Bentenjima (Hamamatsu, Shizuoka)

In 2019, German photographer Ronny Behnert travelled around Japan visiting various Torii, the traditional Japanese gate commonly found at the entrance of Shinto shrines and used to symbolically demarcate the transition between our world and the sacred world of the gods. And I know what you’re thinking — do we really need another photo gallery of Torii taken by a foreigner? We asked ourselves the same question and the answer, in this case, was yes.

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The Newly Renovated Koganeyu Sento in Tokyo

all photos by Yurika Kono

It must be a public bath miracle. Just last week we wrote about how rare it was to see a sento open instead of close, or be converted into a cafe. Now it’s happened again. Rather than bending to the winds of change, the owners of Koganeyu, an 88-year old sento in Tokyo, have doubled-down on their aging public bath, launching a crowdfunding campaign to support renovations. The new Koganeyu reopened this week.

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New Large Scale Structure Planned For Jingumae Crossing in Harajuku

The face of one of Tokyo’s most famous crossings continues to change. The West corner of Jingumae Crossing has largely remained unchanged for the past 50 years. But when the iconic Condomania relocated in late 2018, it proved to be the first sign of new changes to come. Now, renderings have been revealed: a monolithic, multi-functional structure designed by architect Akihisa Hirata will open in 2022.

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A Wooden Cabin Constructed Locally in the Mountains of Japan Using a 3D Wood Cutter

unless otherwise noted, all photos by Takumi Ota

Nestled deep in the Gokayama mountains of Japan is Marebito no ie, a wooden cabin constructed near Toga village. The region is renowned for a unique type of A-frame housing design and architectural style known as gasshō-zukuri (合掌造り) which uses wooden beams combined to form a steep roof that can easily shed snow from their roofs. Marebito no ie was designed as a contemporary homage to this tradition but with minimal impact to the environment: an affordable Shopbot 3D wood cutter was brought in and the entire project was completed with local timber that did not have to be transported.

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Kuwamizu Sento: A Private Residence with a Public Bath in Kumamoto

photos by Shigeo Ogawa

There are a countless number of projects these days to renovate sento public baths and turn them into cafes, art galleries or both. Indeed, the old relics of society are on the decline and it’s not everyday a new sento opens but that’s exactly what happened in Kumamoto recently with the opening of Kuwamizu Sento.

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Makeup Artist & Buddhist Monk Kodo Nishimura on Celebrating Sexual Diversity

all photographs by Masaki Sato

Kodo Nishimura grew up in Tokyo but moved to New York at age 18 to study art at Parsons. After returning to Japan to complete his training as a monk he then chose to travel again to Los Angeles where he furthered his classical training in makeup. Today, Nishimura, who identifies as non-binary, divides his time between his two passions: makeup artistry and the Buddhist monastery. He also recently published an autobiography celebrating sexual diversity and spreading the message in Japan that different is beautiful.

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