An Ethereal Bubble Emerges from a Japanese Townhouse in New Art Installation by MAD Architects

photos by Osamu Nakamura

In Niigata prefecture’s Murono Village, a surreal scene has unfolded…or should I say, inflated? From the rear of an abandoned townhouse a colossal, semi-transparent bubble has emerged, immediately transforming the quiet village into what could easily be mistaken for one of Willy Wonka’s inventions gone awry. This is, in fact, the latest creation by Ma Yansong, the visionary behind the architectural firm MAD Architects and a new addition to the local Echigo-Tsumari Art Festival.

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Tenohira Hanabi Let’s You Enjoy Sparklers in the Palm of Your Hand

Senko hanabi, literally meaning ‘incense fireworks,’ are small and subtle sparklers that are packed with about 10 seconds of delicate pyrotechnics. Typically sold alongside other handheld fireworks, the unspoken rule is that senko hanabi are reserved for the grand finale. However, their ethereal and subtle nature always leave us wanting more.

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Tamiya’s New Plamodel Factory in Tokyo is a Model Maker’s Paradise

Tamiya, perhaps the most recognized brand name in the modeling industry, recently opened a new flagship facility in the Shimbashi Toranomon area of Tokyo. Dubbed the Tamiya Plamodel Factory, the shiny new store, which just opened in late May, replaces the previous store just across the street, and had served model makers since 2008.

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Forest Crayons Derived Solely From a Different Species of Tree Native to Japan

Forest Crayons are a set of 10 crayons, each with a color derived solely from a different species of tree native to Japan such as cedar, hazenoki and katsura. Designed by Saki Maruyama and Daniel Coppen of Studio Playfool, the crayons manage to repurpose Japan’s otherwise wasted timber as a source of pigment, breathing new life into the country’s abundant wood resources and allowing one to appreciate and create with the forest like never before.

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Kirie Artist Lito Celebrates Tanabata with Handcut Leaves

Today is Tanabata (七夕, meaning “Evening of the seventh”), a Japanese festival celebrating the meeting of the deities Orihime and Hikoboshi. According to legend, the Milky Way separates these lovers, and they are allowed to meet only once a year on the seventh day of the seventh month. To commemorate the special day of stagazing, kirie artist Lito has carved 2 very special leaves.

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Hyper Realistic Pencil Drawings of Metallic Objects by Kohei Ohmori

Something must have come over me, says Kohei Ohmori, reflecting on the 280 hours or roughly 5 months spent drawing a hyper realistic composition of a metallic bolt and nut using just pencils. The 30-year old artist, who has publicly discussed his struggles with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder), has managed to overcome what is often perceived as a weakness and harness his incredibly capability for focus, which recently culminated in a solo exhibition at the Setouchi City Museum of Art.

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Keep Cool This Summer With the Komorebi Uchiwa

Komorebi (木漏れ日) is one of those uniquely untranslatable Japanese words. It means “sunlight filtering through the tree leaves” and embodies a poetic appreciation for nature and its changing seasons. Capturing that aesthetic, and embedding it into a beautiful handheld fan (uchiwa), is designer Kotoko Hirata, who created the Komorebi Uchiwa.

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Fukutake Tres is an Art Space Dedicated to the Fukutake Family, the Visionary Force Behind the Setouchi Art Islands

Over the past three decades, Soichiro Fukutake, the former chairman of Tokyo-based education firm Benesse Holdings, and his family have spent $250 million of their fortune to transform Naoshima and roughly a dozen neighboring islands in the Seto Inland Sea into a global art destination. Their family home, situated along Okayama’s Handa Mountains and looking out over the city and inland sea, have recently been renovated and rebranded as Fukutake Tres.

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The Asuke II Cruise Ship is a Floating Museum of Traditional Craftwork

Over 50 pieces of traditional craftwork (dento kogei) are on display on the Asuka II cruise ship for a project organized by the Japan Kogei Association, a Tokyo-based group comprising artisans nationwide, and Anchor Ship Partners Co., a shareholder of the company that operates the leisure liner.

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Hokusai-Inspired Erasers Reveal Mt. Fuji the More They Get Used     

Erasers are usually used to delete mistakes. And as they get worn down, they become dirty or harder to hold. By nature, they are not fun to use. But Japanese stationery fim PLUS is on a mission to reverse that mentality with erasers inspired by the iconic woodblock prints of Katsushika Hokusai.

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