Keep Cool This Summer With the Komorebi Uchiwa

Komorebi (木漏れ日) is one of those uniquely untranslatable Japanese words. It means “sunlight filtering through the tree leaves” and embodies a poetic appreciation for nature and its changing seasons. Capturing that aesthetic, and embedding it into a beautiful handheld fan (uchiwa), is designer Kotoko Hirata, who created the Komorebi Uchiwa.

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Fukutake Tres is an Art Space Dedicated to the Fukutake Family, the Visionary Force Behind the Setouchi Art Islands

Over the past three decades, Soichiro Fukutake, the former chairman of Tokyo-based education firm Benesse Holdings, and his family have spent $250 million of their fortune to transform Naoshima and roughly a dozen neighboring islands in the Seto Inland Sea into a global art destination. Their family home, situated along Okayama’s Handa Mountains and looking out over the city and inland sea, have recently been renovated and rebranded as Fukutake Tres.

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The Asuke II Cruise Ship is a Floating Museum of Traditional Craftwork

Over 50 pieces of traditional craftwork (dento kogei) are on display on the Asuka II cruise ship for a project organized by the Japan Kogei Association, a Tokyo-based group comprising artisans nationwide, and Anchor Ship Partners Co., a shareholder of the company that operates the leisure liner.

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Hokusai-Inspired Erasers Reveal Mt. Fuji the More They Get Used     

Erasers are usually used to delete mistakes. And as they get worn down, they become dirty or harder to hold. By nature, they are not fun to use. But Japanese stationery fim PLUS is on a mission to reverse that mentality with erasers inspired by the iconic woodblock prints of Katsushika Hokusai.

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Photographer Meticulously Recreates Images of Chickens Painted by Edo-Era Artist Ito Jakuchu

Edo-era painter Ito Jakuchu (1716-1800) excelled at capturing the flora and fauna of the natural world, a skill that extended to remarkable depictions of birds. In particular, chickens were a common theme for the artist and it was said that Jakuchu owned many of them, and allowed them to roam freely in his yard as he observed and painted them. One enthusiast shares in Jakuchu’s obsession with chickens, as well as the work of Jakuchu itself, which has resulted in the wonderfully niche hobby of recreating the 18th century images through contemporary photography.

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The Watermelon Kimono is the Perfect Summer Outfit

Summer in Japan is not summer in Japan without festivals and watermelon. So if you’re looking to refresh your wardrobe with some playful pieces that celebrate the season, as well as festival-appropriate outfits, look no further than the watermelon kimono – a juicy take on a timeless garment. A unique blend of tradition and whimsy, the watermelon kimono is not just a fashion statement but the perfect embodiment of summer’s spirit.

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Three Art Festival to Visit in Japan in the 2nd Half of 2024

Japan’s numerous art festivals have proven to be an effective way of luring domestic and international tourists out of popular destinations and into rural parts of Japan they would have otherwise not visited. The poster child is perhaps the Setouchi Triennale, whose combination of art and island hopping has transformed an obscure region of Japan, into one of the country’s must-see destinations. Below, we present you with three lesser-known art festivals all kicking off later this year. If you have plans to visit Japan and are looking for destinations off the beaten path, consider this a sign.

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This is the Time of Year Bamboo Shoots Grow, Sometimes Wreaking Havoc

a triptych by Toyokuni Utagawa depicting an excursion to gather bamboo shoots (early 1800s)

According to Japan’s ancient calendar of 72 microseasons, right now is microseason 21: the time of year when “Bamboo Shoots Sprout.” Known as takenoko in Japan, these voracious plants have numerous uses in Japan, both as building materials but also edible vegetables. They can be store-bought but in ancient Japan they were delicacies that had to be picked and eaten right away or they would harden. The image above from the 1800s is part of a series depicting seasonal activities around the year. This one, from May, is a beautiful triptych that depicts noblewomen out on an excursion to gather bamboo shoots.

However, their incredible vitality and speed at which they grow—sometimes as much as 1 ft per day—can also wreak unexpected havoc on homes, particularly in the countryside.

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The 2024 Toyama Kei-Truck Gardening Contest

The 2024 Kei-Truck Gardening Contest took place over the weekend. In what is perhaps the most-Japanese contest, professional gardeners and landscapers compete to create a beautiful, seasonal, and unique landscape , all within the bed of their kei-trucks.

This contest originated in 2011 after a landscapers association came up with the idea to promote a renewed interest in gardening. It’s since spread around Japan. Read on for scenes of some of the contestants.

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‘Puddle’ Are a Series of Flower Vessels Inspired by Puddles of Water

Simple and common acts of nature often inspire brilliant design. Such is the case with “Puddle,” a series of flower vessels that mimic a puddle of water. Using properties of transparency and surface tension, these whimsical vessels create the illusion of a single plant growing from a puddle.

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