Tofu Specialty Shop Hirakawaya’s New Restaurant in Takeo Onsen

unless otherwise noted all photos by Ben Richards courtesy Keiji Ashizawa Architects

Hirakawaya is a tofu restaurant that has been serving a local specialty for over 60 years. Known as onsen tofu, the dish (as the name implies) is cooked and served in pristine, mineral-rich water sourced from onsen, or natural hot springs. Their new, stylish space located in front of the historical tower gate of Takeo Onsen is a perfect place to enjoy this staple from Saga prefecture.

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Wearable Bean Bag Pillow from Japanese Brand Hanalolo Let’s You Rest Anytime, Anywhere

Are you like us and finding yourself perpetually tired, in need of quick naps and rests several times a day? Well then you’re in luck because we have the perfect attire for you. Meet the wearable bean bag pillow. Is it comfortable? Yes. Cozy? Sure. Will it make you look ridiculous? Absolutely.

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Our Favorite Student Artwork From Japan’s Graduating Class of 2023

In Japan, early spring is graduation season, which means it’s the time of year art students across Japan are proudly displaying their years of hard work in the form of senior thesis exhibitions. Here at S&T we have a tradition of highlighting some of our favorite work by the young artists who are heading out into the real world. From paper sculptures and oil paintings to glass cranes, this year’s class is brimming with creativity.

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Glass Artist Genki Hirano Crafts Tentacle Earbuds

all images courtesy Genki Hirano

Genki Hirano is a Japanese glass artist based in Iwate prefecture who creates delicate works that range from glass cups and vases to more whimsical designs like glass clothing hangers and pens. For a design festival last year in May, Hirano decided to respond to the theme of sea life by creating glass octopus tentacle earbuds.

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Waguya: a 300-Year Old Cavernous Arts & Crafts Shop in Mie Prefecture

image courtesy google maps

Waguya is a seemingly nondescript shop on a quiet residential street in Mie prefecture. With small, potted plants outside and several porcelain vases in the window, it would be easy to pass right by. But do so and you would be missing out on the secretive, cavernous interior that reveals itself only to those who decide to venture deep inside.

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Laundry Holiday in Ehime Combines Laundromat and Ice Cream Parlor

photos by Kenta Hasegawa courtesy Suppose Design Office

Every day is a holiday, even if it’s laundry day. At least that’s the idea behind Laundry Holiday, a laundromat in Ehime prefecture the underwent a drastic facelift last year, rebranding itself as a community-centered gathering spot where neighbors can come together, get chores done and, of course, eat ice cream.

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Exploring the Art & Culture of Okayama and Niigata

this post is sponsored by Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO)

Okayama and Niigata prefectures are not necessarily household names for those visiting Japan. But if you’re looking to avoid the thronging crowds of tourists in Kyoto and Instagrammers in Naoshima, consider a destination off the beaten path. From historical shrines and castles to craftwork and contemporary art, Okayama and Niigata offer something for everyone.

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Miyabi Creates Stunning, One-of-a-Kind Kimonos for Coming of Age Day

all images courtesy Miyabi

The second Monday of January is a special day for youths across Japan who are turning 20. A national holiday in Japan, Coming of Age Day is meant to celebrate, congratulate and encourage those who are entering adulthood. And celebrate they shall. The Kyushu region of Japan in particular is known for their youths who sport over-the-top kimonos that break every rule of Japan’s culture of conformity. And one artist helps their special day be perfect be creating custom-made attire.

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Yashima’s Undulating Mountaintop Pavilion and Renovated Teahouse

If you’re heading to the Setouchi art islands this year, do yourself a favor and stop by Mt. Yashima in Kagawa prefecture. Just a 15-minute drive from Takamatsu Port, which is the gateway to the many islands, the summit of Mt. Yashima now boasts a gorgeous, snaking, mountaintop pavilion that recently opened. Walk around the elevated pathway as it undulates according to the terrain and take in the views of the Inland Sea on one side and Takamatsu City on the other. Then grab lunch at the renovated Reigan Chaya.

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400-Year Old Himeji Castle Celebrates 30-Years of World Heritage Site Status with Message of Peace

Himeji Castle and its iconic white plaster walls (photo courtesy Himeji Castle)

Japan’s Himeji Castle dates back to the 1300s but at the time it was just a fort on a hill. Its current form really took shape in the early 1600s and since then it has remained intact. And in 1993 it became one of Japan’s first landmarks to receive the UNESCO World Heritage Site declaration.

Himeji Castle is not only the largest castle in Japan but also the oldest surviving castle. The reason? “Battles were never fought here.” And to commemorate the 30-year anniversary of the castle’s heritage status the castle is spreading this message of peace.

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