Pencils That Visualize the Graphite Grading Scale

Historically, pencil makers have used graphite grading scales like 2H or 2B to indicate the hardness and darkness of the core. Although there is a certain charm to these letters, for some it poses questions when selecting pencils. And because they typically come unsharpened when first purchased, there’s no way of testing them. So Japanese designer Kazuya Ishikawa came up with a simple way of visualizing what type of graphite is in each pencil.

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DesignArt Tokyo 2021 is Transforming the Metropolis into a Museum

DesignArt Tokyo will be in full-swing starting this week and running through the end of October. The annual celebration sees Tokyo transform into a living, breathing museum. Over 300 artists and designers from all over the world will be showcasing work at galleries, retail shops and other spaces for ten days: from October 22 to October 31, 2021.

You can explore all the exhibitions and venues over on the official website. As a proud media sponsor, we’re thrilled to be able to share some of our must-see exhibitions and works!

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Discover the Joys of Japanese Illustrator Unpis

Unpis is the nom de plume of a Japanese illustrator hailing from Fukushima prefecture. The artist’s minimalist yet surreal illustrations, which deftly combine clean lines with a subtle sense of humor, have earned her fans from all around the world. Now, she’s releasing her first compilation titled “Discover.”

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Ume Yamazoe is an ‘inconvenient’ hotel renovated from a Japanese mountain hamlet townhouse

all photos courtesy ume yamazoe

Nestled in a small mountain hamlet of Nara prefecture is a grand townhouse once owned by a former village chief. A sloping path leads up to the home where it looks over Oku-yamato and all of the small town’s secluded, untouched beauty. Easily over 100 years old, the home was falling into disrepair until a sushi maker decided to purchase it and expand into the hospitality business. But the end-result was unlike any other hotel.

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Enjoy a Socially Distanced Dinner Inside Chochin Lanterns at Hoshinoya Tokyo

Last week, the rejoicement and excitement in Tokyo was palpable as major restrictions were lifted, allowing restaurants and bars to reopen. But just because the State of Emergency was over, doesn’t mean we’re out of the proverbial pandemic woods. For those who continue to be cautious and vigilant, Hoshinoya Tokyo is offering socially-distanced dinners inside chochin lanterns.

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Yuta Okuda Combines Blotches of Paint with Delicate Lines to Create Colorful Bouquets

all images courtesy the artist

From afar, Yuta Okuda‘s artwork can resemble pressed flowers. But come closer and the blossoming bouquets reveal themselves to be something much more complex with an ambiguity that shifts between realism and the abstract. The Japanese artist uses blotches of acrylic paint, which he then combines with miniscule, delicate pen drawings to create petals and blossoms within each other.

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Real Life Tokyo Streets and Manga Merge in Milestone Campaign for ‘KochiKame’

This week, the 201st volume of long-running police comedy manga “Kochi Kame” was released after a 5-year hiatus. To celebrate, a series of posters have been created which merge manga artist Osamu Akimoto’s illustrations with the actual street scenes of Tokyo where the the manga takes place.

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Circular Pedestals Suspend Vegetation in Midair at REN, a Specialty Plant Store in Tokyo

All photos by courtesy NOSIGNER (Yuichi Hisatsugu)

For over 100 years, REN has operated a botanical specialty shop in Tokyo’s Mita district. Passed down through four generations, the family business has taken on several iterations but has always been grounded in the world of ikebana and plants. The current owner, botanical artist and designer Nobuaki Kawahara, recently relocated REN, which takes it’s name from the Japanese word for lotus, renovating a 55-year old building and creating the brand’s flagship location.

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Milkbrew Coffee in Saga is Built Inside a Renovated Historic Warehouse

Photos: Hiroshi Mizusaki courtesy Case-Real Architects

Within Ureshino, a town in Kyushu’s Saga prefecture, is a historic road lined with whitewashed traditional buildings. It’s inside one of these–a former warehouse–where a unique business has staked out its new home. Milkbrew Coffee, as its name implies is a cafe that brews their coffee with milk, rather than water.

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How the Pandemic is Changing Ritual Practices of Japanese Shrines and Temples

The Covid-19 pandemic has dramatically altered daily life and everyday routines for almost everyone. Japanese Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples were certainly not immune but in order to ensure their ability to maintain operations and continue offering services to their community, many have taken a leap of faith, altering the way they do things that go beyond just a creative use of digital technology.

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