Dear Readers –

As the year of the monkey comes to an end, and we prepare to welcome in the year of the hen, it’s time to reflect on 2016, and take a look at what stroke a chord most with our audience. The top 10 list this year is a diverse mix of subjects that range from geography and horticulture to traditional craft, music and photography. I’m proud of each and every one of these articles, but I can also say that I’m proud of all the articles we chose not to write. “Fake news” was on the mind of many media publishers this year, and understandably so.

But we stand by each and every article that we’ve published and I hope readers can take comfort in knowing that our stories, even though they’re about relatively lighter topics, are vetted for accuracy and truthfulness.

2017 will mark our 10-year anniversary of blogging! To us, that’s pretty incredible. And we couldn’t have done it without our readers so I wanted to take this opportunity to say thank you for stopping by and spending time reading. Look out for some fun projects next year to celebrate our 10th blogiversary!

1. The Map that Changed the World

Our most popular post this year was a latecomer – published in October – that quickly catapulted to the top. This map, created by Hajime Narukawa, may very well be the most accurate ever. Narukawa has spent years improving on the conventional map, which has largely not changed since 1569. Read about what’s different with Narukawa’s projection, and why it’s ever-so relevant today.

2. The Levitating Air Bonsai

Hoshinchu, a Kyushu-based workshop, captured our fascination when they added a fun, poetic twist on indoor gardening. By utilizing the opposing forces of magnetic energy they created a levitating plant called Air Bonsai. Since then, we’ve seen countless imitation products and variations but we’ll always remember this small design studio as the original plant levitators.

3. The Tokyoization of World Cities

What happens when you take Tokyo’s vibrant, rich and sometimes overstimulating skin and apply it to other cities? That was the question that led Japanese architect Daigo Ishii to embark on his Worldwide Tokyo-lization Project.” The fascinating project takes elements of Tokyo and applies them to 6 global cities: New York, Buenos Aires, Copenhagen, Paris, La Paz and Venice.

4. The Art of Japanese Wood Joinery

Japanese wood joinery dates back to the seventh century and is a craftsmanship technique that involves complicated, interlocking wooden joints that form bonds without the use of nails, screws or adhesives. A young Japanese man, fascinated by the techniques and aiming to preserve the dying art, began illustrating them and posting them to a dedicated twitter account.

5. Piko Taro Takes the World with an Apple and a Pineapple

Hit songs sometimes take years to craft. But for comedian Piko Taro, all it took was an apple and a pineapple. Oh, and a pen. The utterly simple yet infectiously addictive song and dance became a viral hit that made Piko Taro famous practically overnight. Our article too, in which we reported on Pico Taro’s true identity, was one of the first and for a while was the top hit on google search, which helped secure its place at number 5 on our list. Thanks Google!

6. Portraits of Tokyo’s Stray Cats

Masayuki Oki is a master at catching the stray cats of Tokyo making funny faces, napping and even sometimes fighting. But whatever they’re doing when Oki snaps his shutter each is imbued with character and personality that is instantly relatable. His portraits of Tokyo’s stray cats are number 6 on our list.

7. A Porcelain Treasure Hunt

The Kouraku Kiln was founded in 1865 and has been producing ceramics for the past 150 years. Over that time the facility accumulated a vast collection of pottery that has, for one reason or another, gone unsold. So the warehouse decided to offer visitors a unique treasure-hunting experience to try and get rid of some of their stock. For just 5000 yen, visitors could rummage through their vast warehouse and take home whatever they found! We later heard from the kiln that swarms of visitors had come thanks to our article which, in our mind, is one of the greatest compliments.

8. Cross-Sections of Major Train Stations in Tokyo

In addition to being an architect, Tomoyuki Tanaka is also a master draftsman. And his painstakingly-produced, hand-drawn cross sections of major train stations in Tokyo are a work of beauty. If you’ve ever visited Tokyo, Shibuya or Shinjuku Station, you’ll appreciate these sketches.

9. 100 Views of Tokyo

Following in the footsteps of ukiyo-e artist Hiroshige, Shinji Tsuchimochi spent 3 years illustrating 100 views of Tokyo. Each view is a unique work of art, inspired by ukiyo-e but produced with a modern sense of whimsy and, sometimes, surrealism. After our initial article on him, we reached out, offering to carry his book in our shop of he ever decided to make one. Less than 6 months later the book was stocked in our shop, and it became our best-selling product of the year.

10. Japanese Portable Record Players

Fumihito Taguchi, a record shop owner in Tokyo, took an avid interest in the unique, portable record players that were mass-produced in Japan in the 60s and 70s. His collection of over 100 different varieties was the 10th most popular post on spoon & tamago during 2016.

Thanks again for reading and Happy Holidays to all!