Ukiyoe, the Japanese form of woodblock prints that flourished during the Edo period (1600 – 1868), were mass-produced artworks intended to bring joy and laughter to the commoners. And while subjects included landscapes and celebrities, it wasn’t unusual for the artist’s own sense of humor and whimsy to creep into the prints in the form of surreal and unexpected creatures. An ukiyoe museum and retailer have now teamed up to turn some of those odd creatures into plushy stuffed animals.
If you haven’t heard, rice is kind of a big deal in Japan. And around this time of year—harvest season—the grain is front and center on the entire nation’s mind. In fact, according to Japan’s ancient calendar of 72 microseasons (which Spoon & Tamago members receive in their inbox), September 2 – 6 was “Rice Begins to Ripen.”
There are if course traditional ceremonies dating back hundreds of years that pray for bountiful harvests. But more recently, Japan’s national staple has inspired rice farmers to get creative with their grain.
The story of Hachiko, Japan’s symbol of loyalty in man’s best friend, has been told many times, with varying aims. And the canine continues to live on not only in the form of Shibuya’s most-popular meeting spot but in a multitude of forms that range from sake to Bon-Odori posters. But the next frontier is footwear. A collaboration between Japanese streetwear retailer atmos and Adidas has given birth to a pair of furry sneakers that pay homage to Hachiko.
Cup Noodle is so excited about their 50th anniversary that they’ve created something that absolutely no one asked for: Cup Noodle Soda. Four of their most popular and best-selling flavors—original, seafood, curry and chili tomato—have been turned into fizzy beverages.
Masami Yamamoto is a Japanese artist based in Kanazawa largely working in the medium of ceramics. Since around 2011 the artist has been developing a series based on used—often intimate—clothing as a means of creating portraits of the owner of that item. The folds, wrinkles and details are all manually carved by the artist, rendering the ceramic objects in realism that is seemingly lightweight but also possessing strength and density.
If you’re like us and have trouble keeping houseplants alive, here’s a beautiful alternative. Inspired by papercraft and Japanese origami folding techniques, Papelants are paper plants that spring to life without the use of glue, tape, scissors or any tools at all. Intrinsically maintenance-free, they come in a number of different varieties and can stand upright or be hung from walls.
Sushi comes in a variety of styles. And to tell the difference, sometimes all you have to do is look at how sushi is written in Japanese. By far the most common is 寿司, a two-character phonetic representation of sushi that is all encompassing and can include dishes that aren’t necessarily fish such as california rolls. Your local mom-and-pop sushi shops, as well as high-volume, affordable kaiten-zushi chains will often use this form. Then there is the more traditional and singular 鮨. This kanji uses the radicals 魚 (sakana; fish) and 旨 (umai; delicious) and are often used by high-end sushi shops that command several hundred dollars per person. Then there is すし written in hiragana that connotes accessibility and affordability. Now, meet the katakana-written スシ, an innovative, Instagram-friendly neo-sushi that has seemingly emerged from a culinary collision of genres.
The annual Japanese music festival Fuji Rock was cancelled last year. And in the midst of a 5th wave surge in Covid-19 cases, this year seemed precarious as well. But the festival pressed on over the weekend with domestic acts only, limited capacity, YouTube livestreams and other precautionary measures. One of the stand-out acts for us was the 23-year old hyperpop artist 4s4ki (pronounced ‘Asaki’).
Miniature model-maker Studson Studio first got into model-making by way of plastic Gundam kits. Fast forward 20 years later and this crafty creator is now taking plastic and other trash out of the environment—everything from plastic containers to cereal boxes—and using them to create impressive miniature models inspired by Studio Ghibli and the films of Hayao Miyazaki.
Japanese online retailer dinos has released a new line of cat furniture and part of their line-up includes this all-natural oak wood table. With a perch underneath and a hole in the middle, it gives your feline friend a seat, right in the middle of the table. Expertly crafted with high-quality wood, the fashionable table is beautiful both with or without your kitty.