As we wind down our 15th (!) year of blogging, we embark on our annual exercise of ranking our most popular posts based on viewership. It’s always fun and interesting to see what captivated readers the most. Ever since our beginnings we’ve made a point of providing our readers with eclectic coverage of Japan that shys away from sensationalism. From mundane halloween costumes and cool visual tricks to matchbooks and cat cafe, we hope we’ve been able to add a little bit of beauty and insight into your daily lives by delivering stories about Japan through an art & design lens.
But enough from us. Happy holidays to everyone and here are our top 10 articles of 2022:
10. Glitch Effect Created From A Cool Visual Trick
Elpis is a Japanese crime drama that began airing in October. The key visual features the main protagonists of the story, alongside what appears to be glitches often seen on digital screens where colors are skewed sideways. But look closely because these glitches are not what they appear to be.
9. A Cafe for Writers Working Towards a Deadline
In April we featured this cafe in Koenji that’s only for writers working towards a deadline. But beware, once you enter they will not let you leave until your work is done. Several of our readers (presumably also writers) asked for the same thing in their town.
8. The End of Matchbooks in Japan
A bittersweet article on Japan’s largest manufacturer of matchboxes, Nittosha, who announced that they’re shutting down their business line in June after fulfilling all existing orders. Phillumeny–the practice of collecting matchboxes–is about to get a lot more difficult.
7. Gunkanjima From Above
Gunkanjima, or battleship island, is a small abandoned island off the coast of Nagasaki. Originally just a small mound sticking out of the sea, it rapidly transformed into a prosperous, miniature city after coal was discovered in the late 1800s.
6. Jimi Halloween Costumes of 2022
If there was one thing that made people happy this year it was Japan’s annual celebration of mundane Halloween costumes; outfits so ordinary that they have to be explained. Although the tradition began in 2014, the creativity and humor has not abated.
5. Cat Sleep Study
Earlier this year we reported on one Japanese researcher’s efforts to document their quality of sleep when the pet cat chose the location of slumber. For close to a month the researcher slept under the bed, in the hallway or whatever random spot the cat chose that night. The qualitative and quantitative results were not what you might expect and perhaps some of our readers ended up replicating the experiment?
4. The Seshoseki Killing Stone
In March of this year, the Seshoseki (殺生石) killing stone, said to have sealed the spirit of a vengeful fox demon over 1000 years ago, split in half. It was an ominous event that happened to coincide with the intensifying of the Ukraine-Russia conflict. The stone was actually in the news again recently when 8 wild boar carcasses were discovered nearby.
We don’t know much about cars or much less RVs, but Toyota’s adorable igloo-inspired camping car caught our attention, and the attention of our readers too. We also loved the clever naming: a combination of the Japanese words kamakura (igloo) and kuruma (car).
2. Stray Cats Save Osaka Restaurant
The pandemic has not been kind to the restaurant industry. One eatery in Osaka, which specializes in miniature model trains, was on the brink of bankruptcy when the owner came across an emaciated stray kitten and decided to take it in. That good deed turned out to be a turning point, but not until the kitten’s mother and siblings also showed up. Before the owner knew it, he had a whole family of cats climbing on the restaurant’s miniature models. World quickly spread about the surreal dining experience. And the business started doing so well that the owner could afford to open up a cat shelter on the 2nd floor.
1. Museum of Wonky English
Our most-popular article of 2022 was a late-comer. In early December we published an article about a pop-up museum in Tokyo dedicated to mistranslated signage. If you’ve ever visited Japan you’ve probably seen one. These mistranslations have offered endless chuckles but are also a reminder of the nuances of language and how difficult it can be to accurately capture true meaning. So instead of scolding, this museum celebrates these mistakes, positioning them as valuable stepping stones in acquiring a new language.