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Japanese Government Uses Anthropomorphic Pile of Poo to Teach Kids About Taxes

Taxes are not the most interesting subject. But they affect us all. So if I had to learn about taxes, I’m definitely going to pay more attention if the subject is being taught by an anthropomorphic pile of poo. That was essentially the idea that Japanese Finance Ministry’s Tax Bureau had with their new “Unko Zeikin Drill” (Poop tax drill) for children.

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The Impressionistic, Pointillism Animation of Honami Yano

Born in 1991 on a small island in Japan’s Seto Inland Sea, Honami Yano is an animator and filmmaker based in Kyoto and Tokyo. Having always loved to draw and paint, it wasn’t until her years in college, and a chance opportunity to study at RISD in the U.S., when she discovered animation. And it quickly became on obsession that merged her love for drawing, with moving images.

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The Names of Fish are Hidden in the Kanji Characters of this Sushi Teacup

all photos courtesy Mari Ando

Even for native speakers of Japanese, the kanji characters for all the different types of sushi is not a subject anyone would want to be tested on. They have numerous strokes, are fairly complex and all look similar, owing to the fact that they all use the radical for fish, which is 魚. There’s 鱸 and 鱈 and 鯛 but what do they all mean? That’s where the Sushi Yunomi could come in handy.

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Multiple Panels Form Collaged Portraits Painted by Kotaro Hoshiyama

“Blue Smile” 530×455mm Oil and acrylic on canvas 2021

Numerous panels, much like the ones that appear in comic books, come together to form incongruous yet multi-dimensional portraits. From realism and surrealism to cubism and pop, each panel is painted by the artist himself in a multitude of styles. It’s a process typically frowned upon in the art world, which encourages consistency and singularity in artistic styles. But for Kotaro Hoshiyama, the breaking of these rules allowed him to cultivate his own unique style of art.

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Water Shadow Curtain Turns Any Room into an Underwater Oasis

The global pandemic has forced many of us to spend more time in our rooms than we ever expected. And for those living in dense cities, that also means we’ve been using our curtains more. So Tokyo-based designer Oto Kawamata came up with an idea that would allow us to make that indoor time subtly more enjoyable, even with closed curtains.

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Tsumi-gram Building Blocks Teach the Concept of Mass

How do you teach the concept of mass? Our ability to sense weight and mass just by lifting things is a skill that’s atrophied over time, particularly in the age of video games and smartphones. But a group of designers and manufacturers have weighed in, creating Tsumi-gram: a new type of toy that helps build on the concept of mass from an early age.

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Tracing the Footsteps of Traveling Ukiyoe Artist Kawase Hasui

The ukiyoe artist Kawase Hasui (1883-1957) lived through tumultuous times, but you wouldn’t know it from his woodblock prints. Sometimes referred to as a poet with the spirit of a traveler, Hasui traveled Japan in search of nostalgic and everyday landscapes that struck a chord in his own heart. Often depicting the quiet and forlorn, Hasui’s art was perhaps his way of coping with the dramatic shift that was occurring in Japan: a rapid and widespread drive to modernize and engage with the rest of the world.

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An Indonesian Forest is Erased Away in a Time-Based Painting by Kei Imazu

all photos by Keizo Kioku | courtesy Anomaly

Japanese artist Kei Imazu, who is based in Indonesia, is currently wrapping up a large-scale exhibition at the Anomaly gallery in Tokyo. Along with numerous large-scale paintings is a time-based work that depicts the devastating impact that industry is having on earth’s ecosystem.

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Get Lost in the World of Manga Artist Jiro Taniguchi

all photos courtesy Setagaya Literary Museum

The prolific Japanese manga artist Jiro Taniguchi, who passed away in 2017, left behind an immense body of work that continues to be admired both in his home country but also abroad. In Japan, he is perhaps best known for his illustrations in Kodoku no Gourmet (“Solitary Gourmet”), a cuisine manga written by Masayuki Qusumi. But his solo works like Aruku hito (“The Walking Man”) and Haruka na machi e (“A Distant Neighborhood”) had to travel overseas to really shine. A large-scale exhibition in Tokyo reflects on the craftsmanship, details and compositions that went into Taniguchi’s work using over 300 original drawings.

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Japan’s Jimi ‘Mundane’ Halloween Costumes of 2021

Each year we look forward to Halloween, not for the ghosts and ghouls but for Japan’s jimi (mundane) halloween costumes: outfits so ordinary that they have to be explained.

The tradition was started in 2014 by a group of adults at Daily Portal Z who “kind of wanted to participate in the festivities of Halloween, but were too embarrassed to go all out in witch or zombie costumes.” So instead of the flashy and flamboyant costumes they had been seeing gain popularity in Japan, they decided to dress up in mundane, everyday costumes.

You can comb through social media using the hashtag #地味ハロウィン but below we present to you some of our favorites from this year’s festivities.

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