Myaku-Myaku Footwear, Inspired by the Googly-Eyed Mascot for the Osaka Expo

Myaku-Myaku, the unsettling googly-eyed humanoid that was selected as the 2025 Osaka Expo, has inspired numerous spinoffs, both official and unofficial. And with exactly 1 year to go before the Expo, we should all expect to see a lot more. The latest iteration comes in the form of a collaboration with Mizuno, who have created a series of footwear inspired by the benevolent blob.

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Death Fes in Shibuya Asks Visitor to Embrace Their End

images courtesy Death Fes

April 14th is the unofficial “day of good death” in Japan. The date 4-1-4 can be pronounced yo-i-shi, or good death, making today the perfect day to kick-off the Death Fes, an event aimed at encouraging people to think and talk about their inevitable end.

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Oyane-san Blending Tradition with Modern Technology In Shikokumura

all images © Takumi Ota courtesy of Kousou Inc.

Welcome to Oyane-san, affectionately known as “Honorable Roof,” standing proudly at the foot of Mount Yashima on Shikoku Island. This new addition serves as the entrance to the Shikoku Mura, an outdoor architectural park showcasing historic buildings from the Edo to the Taishō periods.

Designed by Yoshiyuki Kawazoe of Kousou Inc., Oyane-san’s distinctively curved roof immediately catches the eye. The site’s status as a national historical heritage and restrictions on deep foundations guides the overall form. By gradually changing the angle of 47 pairs of glulam beams, the designer was able to achieve the organic roof shape. The roof structure pushes the boundaries of modern technology while paying homage to centuries-old architectural forms.

As visitors approach the west face, they’re greeted by a captivating sight of the wooden screen, shading the semi-outdoor space. Crafted from cut pieces of timber salvaged from the beams and columns of the Endo Residence (which belongs to the client), this resembles a modern art piece, inviting reflection on the passage of time and the spirit of craftsmanship.

On the northern side of the foyer, visitors are greeted with a striking view of three layers together: the curved roof of Oyane-san, the thatched roof of the Waraya restaurant, and the ridges of the Sanuki Mountains.

The ‘Episode’ room on the first floor offers a journey through the history and heritage of Shikokumura. From archival photographs documenting the museum’s inception to personal messages from contributors, visitors are immersed in the stories that have shaped this cultural landmark.

Before bidding farewell to Shikokumura, visitors are invited to explore the museum store. From miniature replicas of iconic buildings to handcrafted folk objects, there’s something for every enthusiast eager to take home a piece of Shikokumura’s legacy.

In Oyane-san, tradition and innovation converge to create a masterpiece that transcends mere utility and binds the previously existing buildings together. As Tatsuo Kato’s vision continues to inspire and resonate, Oyane-san stands as a beacon of cultural preservation.

Shikoku Mura
Yashima Nakamachi, Takamatsu, Kagawa 761-0112 (Google Maps)

Kenji Yanobe’s BIG CAT BANG is Now on Display at Ginza Six

Space cats in astronaut suits, ultraman figurines reenacting the beginning of the universe, and a tribute to Taro Okamoto’s iconic Statue of the Sun sculpture. There’s a lot to love about artist Kenji Yanobe’s new installation, BIG CAT BANG, and it’s now on view to the public inside the Ginza Six shopping complex.

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Tomona Matsukawa’s Realistic Paintings Reconstruct Fragments of Everyday Life

“Morning will come and my feelings will ease a little” (2024), Oil on linen mounted on panel

Kyoto-based artist Tomona Matsukawa creates realistic and somewhat dramatic oil paintings that are each inspired by conversations with other women of her generation, often strangers. The artist imbues her work with arresting narratives, both in the form of subject matter, as well as title, which are both derived from striking phrases or memorable moments during the conversation.

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Demographics Professor Warns that by 2531, Everyone in Japan Will be Named Sato

image courtesy Mainichi Shimbun

Despite today’s date, this is not an April Fool’s prank. At a press conference in Tokyo last weekend, professor Hiroshi Yoshida from the Tohoku University Research Center for Aged Economy and Society, sounded the alarm bell for a looming crisis. By the year 2531, everyone in Japan will have the surname Sato.

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Japan’s Stationery Award Offers a Return to the Primitive

Early civilizations had it all figured out. At least according to the Kokuyo Design Awards, arguably Japan’s most-influential stationery design award, which this year asked designers to look to the past. “If we return to the idea of ‘primitive’ in order to create the future,” they proposed, “what form of evolution can we imagine?” This year, the awards received nearly 1500 entries for proposed stationery products, each inspired by materials and methods of the past. Earlier this month, one grand prize and three runner-ups were selected.

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The Playable Poetry of Zeni Tainaka

The Day I Couldn’t Write a Poem is a short, playable game in which the reader moves a character through text, interacting with obstacles and making their way through a narrative. It’s the work of Zennyan (Zeni Tainaka), a Japanese pixel artist who has been experimenting with digital art mediums.

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Satoshi Odagiri Creates One-of-a-Kind Organic Mobiles from Found Material

Located in the wilderness of of Hanno City (Saitama), about an hour outside of Tokyo, is Saturday Factory, a design studio founded by Satoshi Odagiri in 2015. Inspired by the surrounding forests, rivers and wildflowers, Odagiri creates balancing mobiles that incorporate materials that he finds near his studio and along walks in the forest.

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Japan’s Tiniest Botanical Garden is in Shibuya

photos by Kenta Hasegawa courtesy Suppose Design Office

Walk south from Shibuya station and within 10 minutes you’ll come across a glass dome-shaped building sandwiched between several nondescript buildings. Hidden in plain sight is the Shibuya City Botanical Garden, Japan’s smallest indoor arboretum.

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