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Japan Society and the Agency for Cultural Affairs Present 21st Century Japan: Films from 2001-2020

Josee, the Tiger, and the Fish, 2003

As Japan’s film industry enters its third decade in the new millennium, the inaugural ACA Cinema Project online film series 21stCentury Japan: Films From 2001-2020 takes a look back at the last 20 years of Japanese cinema to celebrate some of the most remarkable narrative fiction films and filmmakers that define the era. Covering a wide range of production styles and genres—from small budget independent debuts to festival favorites and award-winning major studio releases—this diverse slate of 30 feature films and shorts offers a guided tour of modern Japanese cinema, including special spotlights dedicated to the work of Kiyoshi Kurosawa and a selection of free breakout films by up-and-coming filmmakers.

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Photographer Ken Ohyama’s Cutouts of Japanese Urban Buildings

a building in Kagoshima that houses a nursery school on the ground level

Urban photographer Ken Ohyama is passionate about cities and the various structures that form them. The 48-year old photographer has a knack for taking oft-overlooked elements of urban environments, from highways to housing projects, and highlighting their beauty by forcing us to look at them in ways we never have.

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New Public Restroom in Sendagaya Appears to be a Levitating Block of Concrete

When public restrooms become art, cities become museums. Those are the words of architect Makoto Tanijiri, who has designed a new public restroom in Sendagaya, right next to the new Tokyo National Stadium.

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Architectural Corner Kamidana Altars by Naohiko Shimoda

The kamidana (literally, “god shelf”) is a miniature family altar found in many homes across Japan. Created as a way to bring the Shinto shrine into the home, most kamidana are fairly simple floating shelves, placed high on a wall. Architect Naohiko Shimoda has taken the concept a step further to create actual miniature shrines in an awe-inspiring scale.

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Tadanori Yokoo Emphasizes Deliberate Misalignment in Contemporary Woodblock Series

Japanese contemporary artist Tadanori Yokoo is presenting a new series of artworks inspired by the woodblock prints of Sharaku, the 18th century ukiyo-e print designer known for his portraits of kabuki actors. Using his signature bold color palette, Yokoo’s woodblock prints deliberately emphasize ズレ (zure), the misalignment that often plagues woodblock printers.

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100-Year Old Wagashi Maker Creates Pandemic-Themed Sweets

Founded in 1901 and located in Hida-Takayama, Tohoen is a historic maker of wagashi Japanese sweets. With a process and materials that have been honed for over a century, Tohoen creates legacy, traditional sweets but also contemporary originals like this set of pandemic-themed wagashi aimed at reminding people how to cope and stay safe.

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Titanium Tumbler Brand SUS Gallery’s New Shop in Aoyama

SUS Gallery is a Japanese lifestyle brand that specializes in handmade titanium bowls and tumblers. The brand leverages the age-old craftsmanship of artisans of Tsubame City in Niigata prefecture, along with the technology required to mold the material, resulting in unique pieces that delicately balance utilitarian charm with luxurious beauty.

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New Public Library in Nasushiobara City is a Forest of Aphorisms

Residents of Nasushiobara City, about 2 hours north of Tokyo, were in for a treat when a new public library opened in late 2020. Nicknamed Mirumiru, the library is a spacious, two-story structure that takes inspiration from mori, or forest, a keyword from the local community’s identity.

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Magical Ice Bubbles Appear on the Surface of Lake Nukabira in Hokkaido

Lake Nukabira, located in central Hokkaido, has become a fantastical canvas for one of nature’s most artistic phenomenons. Gas and other substances at the bottom of the lake freeze as they rise to the surface, becoming trapped in multiple layers and creating a multi-dimensional installation of “ice bubbles.”

The region itself gets heavy snowfall so the ice bubbles typically remain hidden to everyone. But this year the phenomenon has shown itself and photographers have been flocking to the lake to capture the rare sight. Some of our favorites are below.

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Hedgehog Mobile Home Lets You Carry Your Pet Pygmy Wherever You Go

Over the last several years, the domesticated hedgehog, typically the African pygmy hedgehog, has become a popular option as a household pet in Japan, thanks to social media. One hedgehog owner in Japan loved her pet so much she decided to design a miniature mobile home so she could take it with her wherever she went.

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