unless otherwise noted, all photos courtesy Shinya Yoshida
Nestled deep in Northern Hokkaido is the town of Tsubetsu: pop 4400. It’s home to Yamagi Mokko, a 3rd generation family owned furniture company with just 22 employees. But size is not always an indicator of success. Back in 2019, the company won a contract to design and create 5000 wooden cases for Tokyo Olympic medals.
With a little bit of close observation, the spirit of sporting, competition and the Olympics can be found all around us. And for Tokyo-based illustrator Adrian Hogan this rang true, especially over the last two years as Japan struggled to contain the coronavirus while also preparing to host one of the world’s most notable sporting events.
all images courtesy Nendo
The climax of the Tokyo Olympics opening ceremony was undoubtedly the moment when the torch was passed to star athlete Naomi Osaka, who made her way up to a Mt. Fuji-esque podium. Once she arrived, the mountain opened up in front of her, revealing a set of stairs leading up to a large, white, spherical form. The object then began to rotate as 10 panels detached and “blossomed” into the ceremonial cauldron of fire.
all photos courtesy Tomo Koizumi
One of our favorite moments of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics opening ceremony was seeing and listening to Japanese singer-songwriter Misia perform Kimigayo, Japan’s national anthem. And while it was one of the best renditions we had ever heard, we also couldn’t take our eyes off of her scrumptious dress. Although it’s been dubbed the “cotton candy dress” by various western media outlets, in our book it’s the “kakigori dress”: Japanese shaved ice, and in every flavor.
rendering courtesy Fukuoka City
Here’s your wholesome story of the day: Fukuoka City has stated its intent to re-paint one of their port cranes to look like a gigantic giraffe. Unveiling the initiative on July 20, 2021, the mayor noted that he hopes it will cheer up the kids in Fukuoka Children’s Hospital, which looks over the port. The zoomorphic paint job is expected to be completed by February 2022.
Fukuoka’s Island City has a total of 6 cranes, each towering 100 meters (328 ft) into the sky. The paint job is expected to cost 100 million yen (about $900k usd) but if the first one proves popular, the city will consider painting the other five as well.
Many of you know that we have a soft spot for capybaras. So we were absolutely smitten when we discovered this capybara cheescake depicting the oversized yet gentle rodents soaking in an onsen, or Japanese hot spring. The delectable delight was created by university student and baker rinsforest, who says that they were inspired by the real life capybara hot springs of Japan.
all photos by Kozo Kaneda
If you were in Tokyo yesterday and looked up into the sky, or out your window, there was a good chance you might have thought you were still dreaming. At approximately 8AM, a giant hot air balloon began to inflate and then slowly rise into the sky from Yoyogi Park. Shaped like a giant head of a random person, the hot air balloon was a one-day installation by Japanese art collective Mé and titled “Masayume” which means ‘dream come true.’
Summer is a time for scary stories, but also lanterns, or chochin in Japanese. In fact, Japan’s peak lantern production happens in July ahead of Kyoto’s famous gion matsuri, which see streets and floats lined with lanterns. So now is a perfect time to admire these handmade lanterns designed by Ryosuke Harashima, which combine elements of tradition and ghouls.
all images courtesy Akihiro Kumagaya
Japan has a rich history of creating woodblock prints. And one of its many allures lies in its ability to conceal its true nature. In a recent series of prints, designer Akihiro Kumagaya has reconfigured this notion, returning — both literally and figuratively — to the roots of woodblock printing by creating a series of woodblock prints of wood blocks that emphasize the surface, grain and tree rings of the wood.
all photos by Akira Koyama
Thanks to a growing international audience, Japanese anime now represents a 2.5 trillion yen ($22 billion usd) industry. But it’s also notorious for poor working conditions, which has led to an exodus of animators and artists who now have more options to choose from like the gaming industry or other Asian markets. But MAPPA Studio, known for producing some of your favorite anime like Jujutsu Kaisen and Attack on Titan, are changing the game starting with the place where their animators spend the most time: the studio.