all photos by Taku Saiki courtesy National Crafts Museum
What kind of chemical reaction would occur from combining the various genres of Japanese craft, with what has become on of Japan’s most-popular exports: Pokemon. This call-to-action from Kanazawa’s famed National Crafts Museum was answered by over 20 artisans working across multiple disciplines and ranging in age from young to Living National Treasure.
The rolling dunes of the Sahara have been sculpted by wind over countless millennia. Each curve and peak is a work of art that evokes a sense of carefree beauty. For mankind to create such art, perhaps we need tools that are equally carefree. That was the idea behind a new painter’s palette inspired by the Sahara.
Just in time for cherry blossom season! We received a lovely delivery this weekend from Sakuraco: their cherry-blossom themed snack box, directly from Japan. And who knew Japan had so many sakura-flavored snacks.
“Foretoken” (2008) by Manabu Ikeda. 190 x 340 cm. Images courtesy Mizuma Art Gallery
In 2008, Japanese painter Manabu Ikeda completed a monumental painting titled “Foretoken.” A nod to Hokusai’s famous woodblock painting “The Great Wave off Kanagawa,” the piece depicts a towering, violent tsunami uprooting and devouring everything in its path. But 3 years later, when an actual tsunami flattened many parts of Japan’s Tohoku region, the imagery in the painting was deemed so traumatic and triggering that it was never shown in Japan and was first unveiled in New York in 2014. But despite its relative rarity, the painting unexpectedly contributed to the making of this year’s Oscars sweep: the 2022 film “Everything Everywhere All at Once.”
Tomohisa Suzuki of design studio COC, based in Hiroshima, has recently completed SHOPKIT, a giant Lego like store that can be moved around the city, erectable and dismantlable within a snap. The structure uses simple materials and forms to create a lightweight and functional pop-up store that can be easily moved around, allowing merchants to spring into business anywhere they go.
The other day we stumbled upon a building in Osaka that was shaped like a dachshund. As it turns out, it was a warehouse and distribution center for the Japanese pet food company DoggyMan, which made sense; what you see is what you get.
But it made us wonder: what other novelty architecture is there in Japan in which buildings are shaped like the things they sell? Or are a visual representation of what is inside? Unsurprisingly, there are quite a few and many of them are open to the public, or offer tours, and could make for a fun destination. Read on for some of our favorites.
The frigid snow white landscape of the Notsuke Peninsula, Hokkaido, has once again become the canvas for Azuma Makoto (previously), a floral artist who isn’t afraid to think outside the bouquet. Makoto’s latest masterpiece is the third installation of his ‘Frozen Flowers’ series that started back in 2019. It is a unique blend of art and nature, working with the already beautiful flowers and installing them in one of Japan’s most harsh environments.
a still from the stop-motion film HIDARI made from wooden puppets
HIDARI is an ambitious, upcoming stop-motion film from director Masashi Kawamura (previously) that tells the epic tale of legendary sculptor “Jingoro Hidari,” portrayed by wooden puppets. Working with a team of animators and sculptors, Kawamura is bringing to life an ambitious “Japanimation meets stop-motion” film.
Get ready for a storybook come to life – this manga artist’s dream house in Tokyo by Tan Yamanouchi & AWGL, is a compact wonderland where creativity runs wild! The artist had three requests. The space should accommodate every step of the artist’s creative process, from concept to media interviews. Second, the house should be compact, with limited outdoor exposure. And last, it should have a sense of charm that boosts creativity.
“Anatomy of Burial (It’s Only a Paper Moon)” by Keita Sagaki | images courtesy the artist
It’s been a minute since we featured manic doodler Keita Sagaki but one of his artworks is currently on view at the Daimaru Art Gallery that’s connected to Tokyo Station. And like all his other works, the maddening complexity is only revealed upon close-up.