Rice Straw Sculptures from the 2022 Wara Art Festival

Autumn is officially upon us. It’s the season of shorter days, brighter moons and bountiful harvests. Niigata prefecture, in Northern Japan, is known for its rice paddies and rice production. Around this time of year the rice harvest becomes a big deal, as well as the tons of rice straw, or wara, that is leftover. It can be plowed down as soil improver, fed to livestock, or even woven into decorative ornaments. But before any of that, for the past 9 years Uwasekigata Park has hosted a Wara Art Festival by teaming up with art students to create creatures, both large and small, from rice straw.

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Inside Vegan Leather Brand CRAFSTO’s New Tokyo Store & Studio

all photos by Takumi Ota courtesy Oniki Design Studio

CRAFSTO is a new Japanese fashion accessory brand that places sustainability at the forefront of their business model. Working mainly with cacti and other plant-derived vegan leather, CRAFSTO has developed what they call “future-oriented craftsmanship.” And their ethos extends not only to their products but to the walls of their new Tokyo shop and beyond.

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Celebrate the Arrival of Fall With a Forest of Kirie Foliage

all images courtesy Ayumi Shibata

Yesterday was the autumnal equinox: the official start of fall. And if you’re in Tokyo, there’s no better way to welcome in the season than at the KITTE, the design-forward commercial complex right outside Tokyo Station. Now through October 10th, kirie artist Ayumi Shibata, inspired by the fall foliage of a forest, has installed one of her largest works in the atrium of KITTE.

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Tokujin Yoshika’s New Public Sculpture Glistens Outside Tokyo Station

all photos courtesy Tokujin Yoshioka

Designer Tokujin Yoshioka has unveiled his latest work: a gigantic 10-meter sculpture made of over 2000 stainless steel mirrored rods that converge, as if crystallizing, into a luminous star. The permanent sculpture of light is situated outside, just steps from Tokyo Station, and is designed to randomly reflect the natural and artificial lights of the city that change throughout the day.

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A Tea Ceremony in a Portable Tea Room Atop Mount Fuji

photos courtesy Mori Soyu and Kazumasa Murayama

Last week, climbers approaching the summit of Mt. Fuji were treated to a special event: a tea ceremony inside a pop-up tea room set up at the eighth station of the Yoshida trail. The tea ceremony, which was scheduled just days before the end of Mt. Fuji’s hiking season, was intended to express gratitude for the blessings of Mt. Fuji.

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Watch & Optical Repairman Creates Miniature Sculptures From Old Parts

all photos courtesy ticktackart

Hisashi Ito is the 2nd generation owner of Megane Tokei Ito, a small shop in Saga prefecture that specializes in the sales and repairs of watches and glasses. An optometrist by trade, Ito spends his time spare time toying with spare parts, upcycling them into miniature sculptures of animals and insects.

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Maison Owl is a Cave-Like Restaurant in Yamaguchi Designed by Junya Ishigami

all images courtesy Maison Owl

It’s been almost 10 years since Motonori Hirata, the brainchild of the Maison Owl restaurant, came up with an idea to create a space that felt like entering a hideout. He conceived a restaurant that felt like it had been on earth for 10,000 years. And eating there, guests could imagine it being there for another 10,000 years. Hirata teamed up with architect Junya Ishigami, who helped bring his concept to life. Maison Owl had it’s soft-opening last lear and has been slowly working up towards full operation through an invitation-only policy. But they’re now preparing for an official opening this fall.

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Gunkanjima from Above: Exploring What Was Once the World’s Most-Densely Populated City

all aerial photos shot with drone by Jordy Meow

Gunkanjima, or battleship island, is a small abandoned island off the coast of Nagasaki. Originally just a small mound sticking out of the sea, it rapidly transformed into a prosperous, miniature city after coal was discovered in the late 1800s. Although the island does offer tours, over 90% of the land is off limits due to risk of collapse. So today we’re sharing some aerial photos captured recently by Jordy Meow using a drone, combined with archive photos.

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Trompe-l’œil Illusions of Globs of Paint Form New Paintings by Teppei Takeda

The Japanese artist Teppei Takeda creates abstract portraits seemingly composed of bold and audacious brush strokes with globs of paint forming lines and contours of the face. However, step closer and you’ll discover that each and every glob of paint is a meticulously painted illusion and the work is as flat as the original canvas it was painted on.

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Tetanpo: A Bird-Shaped Ceramic Hand Warmer

Riffing on the word yutanpo, which is Japanese for hot water bottle, tetanpo is an adorable bird-shaped ceramic hand warmer. Maybe you’ve been working on your computer on a cold day and your hands (and eyes) need a break? The tetampo was developed for just that type of situation.

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