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Pencil Shavings Become Bonito Flakes in Whimsical Okonomiyaki Pencil Sharpener

all images courtesy @mitiruxxx

Bonito flakes are a popular garnish on many well-known dishes in Japan like okonomiyaki and takoyaki. But those coming across it for the first time often mistake them for pencil shavings. Thanks to the imagination of one product designer, the two have become intertwined in a single, perfect pencil sharpener.

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Bread Bugs: Intriguing and Adorable Four-Legged Felt Pastries by Atelier Hatena

all images courtesy atelier hatena

Usually we would not want bugs around the house. But we’ll make an exception for these incredibly adorable bread bugs created by felt artist Atelier Hatena. Based in Hiroshima, the artist knits together one-of-a-kind, whimsical creatures out of felt.

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Edo’s Eco Life for Today: Part 2 – Food Culture in the Edo Era

this post is sponsored by The Japan Foundation, Center for Global Partnership

On Friday December 17 at 8pm ET, join a free online event with two experts to discuss food culture in the Edo era through the lens of mottainai.

Mottainai, a Japanese word encompassing the spirit of getting the most out of everything, took root in Edo period Japan (1603-1868). Edo period experts Professor Kamatani Kaoru and Professor Azby Brown will discuss food culture in the Edo era through the lens of mottainai, a grassroots mentality that was pervasive throughout the Edo period and discuss the inspiration we can take way for today’s global community. 

Tune into this 2nd installment, “Edo’s Eco Life for Today: Part 2 – Food Culture in the Edo Era,” on Dec. 17 at 8pm ET: And if you missed part 1, you can find it right here.

Miniature, Ornate Wooden ‘Danjiri’ Floats Carved Entirely by Hand

One of Japan’s most-rowdiest festivals is the Kishiwada Danjiri Festival, which takes place in Osaka during the month of September. The 300-year old festival features thirty four large, elaborate floats known as danjiri. Each float represents a different neighborhood and teams of hundreds compete to pull their floats at high speeds through the narrow streets of Kishiwada.

But for one individual, spectating the event was not enough. Armed with carving tools, they are on a mission to carve miniature replicas of every single danjiri.

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Viscous Slime Covers the Faces of Portraits Painted by Kotao Tomozawa

Kotao Tomozawa with her large paintings | all images courtesy the artist

Kotao Tomozawa is a Tokyo-based painter currently attending Tokyo University of the Arts. Using her masterful grasp of texture, translucency and softness, she creates large, unique portraits that feature highly viscous slime-like substances covering the faces of her models. They are simultaneously disturbing yet gentle.

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Kotatsu Have Been Around Longer Than We Imagine. And Art History Has the Proof.

As temperatures continue to drop, households around Japan will begin setting up their kotatsu: low tables covered with a heavy blanket whose underbelly holds an electric heater. Central heating is uncommon in Japan, where the preferred method of keeping warm are site-specific heating solutions like this one. And we often think of the kotatsu as a modern-day luxury but they’ve actually been around for hundreds of years, way before electricity was harnessed for household usage.

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Flash Forward: Debut Works and Recent Films by Notable Japanese Directors

The Chef of South Polar (2009). Directed by Shûichi Okita (all images courtesy Japan Society and the Agency for Cultural Affairs in association with VIPO)

this article is sponsored by Japan Society

Highlighting the early efforts of now-established contemporary filmmakers, Flash Forward: Debut Works and Recent Films by Notable Japanese Directors — the second ACA Cinema Project series — takes an intimate look at six of Japan’s most well-known directors: Naomi Kawase, Miwa Nishikawa, Shuichi Okita, Junji Sakamoto, Akihiko Shiota, and Masayuki Suo. Brought to you by Japan Society and the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan (ACA), in collaboration with the Visual Industry Promotion Organization (VIPO), this hybrid program will feature 18 films streaming throughout the US on Japan Society’s Virtual Cinema from December 3–23, 2021, and two in-person screenings in Japan Society’s auditorium at 333 E 47th Street in Manhattan on December 11 and 17.

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Travelling Through Eizan Railway’s Picturesque ‘Momiji Tunnel’

all photos courtesy Eizan Electric Railway

Along Kyoto’s Eizan Electric Railway is a section known as “Maple Tree Tunnel” (momiji tunnel, in Japanese) that is lined with hundreds of maple trees. They are, of course, beautiful any time of year. But maple trees are particularly stunning in the fall and the railway goes out of its way to accentuate their beauty while allowing riders to get the most of all the sights.

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Nature and Engineering Intertwine in Toshio Shibata’s Photographs of Japan’s Landscape

Kitashiobara Village, Fukushima, 2016

Depending on where you stand on the spectrum of environmental engineering, Japan’s monolithic yet ubiquitous cement structures are either pork-barrel politics suffocating the landscape, or engineering marvels that sustain life. The photographer Toshio Shibata offers a third, more neutral stance. A poetic and abstract look at nature being intertwined with man-made structures.

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Spoon & Tamago Member Event: Virtual Kyoto Tea Ceremony

Join us next weekend on December 11, 2021 (EST) as we virtually step inside a traditional Kyoto machiya to experience the refined world of matcha. The Camellia Tea House will guide us through an intimate and authentic tea ceremony!

In the tea world, this time of year is very much considered the new year of tea. Two exciting things happen: the tea that was picked, processed, and put into storage to settle in the spring is unveiled and turned into Matcha. Also, the hearth upon which the water is boiled for making tea in the Japanese tearoom goes from resting above ground for the warmer months, to being in the ground for the winter, a tradition known as robiraki (炉開き), or the unveiling of the sunken hearth.

The online event will be available to Spoon & Tamago members. Already a member? Awesome! Members will automatically be receiving a link by email to join. Not a member? Consider joining us and getting access to this talk, as well as many other perks!


Online Member Lecture Series with Camellia Tea House
WHEN: December 11, 2021 (EST) | 8:00 – 9:00 PM
WHERE: Zoom Meeting
HOW TO JOIN: All members will be receiving an email with a link to join the meeting.

Archived footage is now available. Members who are signed in can view the video below:


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