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Camakuruma: The Igloo-Inspired Camping Car

I’ve never really seen the appeal of RVs or camping cars but this Camakuruma is making me take a second look. A combination of the Japanese words kamakura (igloo) and kuruma (car) the new concept car was developed jointly by a number of companies including Toyota and Hoshino Resorts, who want to allow skiers to rent the vehicles and park them right by the slopes to allow easier access than ever.

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Everyday Products Push Above Their Weight with Adorable Sumo Illustrations

Sumo is not just about contact wrestling. It’s about velocity; it’s about strategy; it’s about rituals. And it’s these multifaceted elements that keep audiences hooked. One of those is illustrator Satoko Fuke, who recently teamed up with lifestyle brand Felissimo to create a series of whimsical sumo-inspired products like salt shakers and glasses that are not only filled with salt and water but with humor too.

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Hiraku Suzuki’s Constellations Configured From Silver Spray Paint and Marker

“Constellation #19” (2017), installation view at Arts Maebashi | photo by Ooki Jingu

From studying the veins of dead leaves as a child to making music using environmental sounds, the Japanese contemporary artist Hiraku Suzuki has always been fascinated with the archaeological language that makes up the world around us. But rather than reconfigure the fragments around him, Suzuki chose to forge his own language as a way of re-understanding his environment. The exploration eventually lead to a series he calls “Constellation.”

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Spring Intimation: an Exhibition of Paintings by Brooklyn-based Japanese Artist Akané Ogura

this post is sponsored by Akané Ogura

Come celebrate the new year and the arrival of spring through food and art. “Spring Intimation ~ 春のほのめき~ Haru no Honomeki” is an exhibition of paintings by Brooklyn-based Japanese Artist Akané Ogura, taking place at Japanese restaurant Gen in Brooklyn through February 27th, 2022.

Who would have thought the covid pandemic would last so long? Unfortunately, many people living in New York City who have family abroad are still having difficulty reuniting with loved ones. Some cultures celebrate Christmas and Hanukkah while others celebrate New Year. In Japanese culture, New Year is the biggest celebration of the year. They celebrate with the tradition of having a New Year’s meal and visiting a local shrine to pray for the health and prosperity of the year.

With the current Japanese border restrictions, 3 days quarantine at the government specified hotels and 14 days quarantine at home, long waiting time at the airport for the testing and processing after 14 hours flight, many people who had planned on traveling to see their family had to postpone their visits once again.

In this exhibition, Ogura exhibits her paintings inspired by her heritage of Japan. She took her sentiment of “Longing for Japan”, and created several new paintings. She also gathered paintings she made in the past, specifically seasonal from New Year to early springtime. She uses the traditional Sumi-e technique and Impressionistic painting method to create the unique series of seasonal plants and nature scenes of Japan and her distinctive portraits of women.

Visit the seasonal exhibition during this unique time and celebrate the new year and early spring with authentic Japanese food and saké at Gen Brooklyn (map).

Music Monday: Kaho Nakamura

If you’ve seen Mamoru Hosoda’s latest film BELLE, you may recognize our featured musician of the week as none other than the voice of the animated film’s protagonist. Thirty-year old Kaho Nakamura is a Japanese singer-songwriter based in Kyoto who was selected last year as the voice of Suzu/Belle. Having originally attended art school with ambitions to become a visual artist, Nakamura’s background is evident in her songs and music videos which are richly layered with texture, color and emotion.

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The Road Less Traveled in Tohoku

this post is sponsored by Tohoku Japan

The six prefectures that make up Tohoku were once considered Japan’s frontier. Now, excellent access by train, plane, and automobile have enabled more visitors to appreciate the region’s natural scenery, from the fresh green leaves of Aomori Prefecture’s Oirase Gorge in summer to the burst of color of Miyagi Prefecture’s Rairai-kyo Gorge in autumn. Japan’s borders remain closed due to the global pandemic, but in anticipation of a reopening, correspondent Noam Katz travels to Tohoko in search of hidden gems.

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In Historic Narai-Juku, an Ancient Sake Brewery Converted to a Lodge

all photos by Masahiro Ikeda courtesy Nosigner

At one point in time, the 400-year old Narai-juku was one of the most-prosperous “stations” along the Nakasendo trail that connected Kyoto with current-day Tokyo. As a designated preservation site, it’s one of the few places in Japan that has retained its Edo-era architectural charm. Along a narrow road lined with merchants and inns was the former Suginomori sake brewery. It’s here that a new lodge called Byaku has decided to inherit roots.

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Artist Enrico Isamu Oyama Designs Kesho Mawashi for Sumo Wrestler Terunofuji

Teruofuji (center) entering the ring | Photo by Hitomi Mori

When the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament kicked off last week, it was sole yokozuna Terunofuji’s kesho-mawashi that caught our attention. As the dominating wrestler entered the ring in ceremonial fashion, he was wearing a traditional embroidered silk apron designed by artist Enrico Isamu Oyama: a rare collaboration between contemporary art and sumo wrestling.

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Template Rulers Allow You to Recycle Paper Bags into Small Accessories

You know all those cute paper bags that you keep stockpiling because they’re too pretty to throw away and you’re definitely going to find a use for them some day? Well now you actually can, thanks to Kimochi no Katachi, a set of acrylic template rulers that allow you to easily cut a fold a paper bag into card holders, business card cases or snack pouches.

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Stray Cats Save Osaka Restaurant from Going Out of Business During Pandemic

all images courtesy diorama_shokudo

Railway model enthusiast Naoki Teraoka has operated miniature model-themed ramen restaurants and eateries in Japan since 2005. His latest was the Diorama Restaurant in Osaka, which he opened in 2018. But when the global pandemic struck two years later, business went south and Teraoka was pushed to the brink of shutting down his business. But an unlikely savior–a stray cat that Teraoka rescued–would turn things around.

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