Japan

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Illustration

Meet Tatsuo Horiuchi, the 77-Year-Old Artist Who ‘Paints’ Japanese Landscapes With Excel

December 4, 2017

Christopher Jobson

For over 15 years, Japanese artist Tatsuo Horiuchi has rendered the subtle details of mountains, cherry blossoms, and dense forests with the most unlikely tool: Microsoft Excel. The 77-year-old illustrator shunned the idea of paying for expensive painting supplies or even a basic drawing program for his computer, saying that he prefers Excel even over Microsoft Paint because it has “more functions and is easier to use.” Using simple vector drawing tools developed primarily for graphs and simple shapes, Horiuchi instead draws panoramic scenes of life in rural Japan.

Great Big Story recently visited Horiuchi at his home for a brief interview and a behind-the-scenes look at how he works in the video above. If you’re even slightly skeptical, here’s two of his earlier Excel artworks you can download and explore yourself:

Cherry Blossoms at Jogo Castle (2006)
Kegon Falls (2007)

You can explore more of Horiuchi’s Excel drawings on his website and at Spoon & Tamago.

 

 



Design

A Japanese Home Designed Around a Climbable Earthquake-Proof Bookshelf

December 4, 2017

Johnny Strategy

Floor-to-ceiling bookshelves are lovely, and can act as a robust focal point in any home, though accessing the high shelves can be a problem. The common sidekick has always been ladders which can also add character and charm, but for smaller homes like in Japan they can be a nuisance, occupying too much space for not enough usage. Japanese architect Shinsuke Fujii came up with a simple, yet brilliant solution that solves another problem too: earthquake safety.

The “House in Shinyoshida,” as it’s called, named for the neighborhood in Yokohama where it stands, was conceived shortly after the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake. The client, who happened to be an avid book lover, approached Fujii with the task to design a home around a large bookshelf that’s both easily accessible but also one that won’t spill all the books if there’s ever a tremor.

The solution was to slant the entire western-facing façade and create a built-in slanted bookshelf whose shelves also function as a ladder. The slant allows family members of all ages to climb up and reach books, but also keeps the books from falling should an earthquake ever shake the home. The slanted façade also has the effect of creating an open feeling in the family room, where the home’s high perch allows for plenty of sunlight to enter through the large windows. (Syndicated from Spoon & Tamago)

 

 



Design

Plant Party: A Greenhouse in Tokyo Bursts Into a Dazzling Light Show When You Touch the Plants Inside

October 24, 2017

Kate Sierzputowski

An illuminated greenhouse fills Tokyo Midtown’s garden space, encouraging visitors to touch the variety of vegetables that grow inside. The functional plant shelter was created by design studio PARTY for the city’s 2017 Design Touch event, a month-long festival that focuses on the experiential elements of good design.

Each plant in the Digital Vegetables installation is rigged to trigger a symphony of light and sound when touched. Each color and noise reflect a specific aspect of the plant, allowing the visitor to connect to the organic matter with senses that lay outside of taste or smell.

“Sounds of rubbing seeds. Sounds of touching leaves. Sounds of eating fruits,” says Digital Vegetables’ Sound Designer Ray Kunimoto. “I recorded the sounds created with actual vegetables. Then, I mixed them with the sounds of orchestra instruments on the computer to make 7 melodies.”

Kunimoto’s technique makes sure there is a unique sound for each. When visitors touch a tomato they will hear the sound of a violin, carrots will trigger trumpets, and cabbages will activate the deep sounds of the oboe.

The installation is free, and will be displayed in Tokyo Midtown through November 5th, 2017. You can see the greenhouse in action in a short video of Digital Vegetables below. (via Spoon&Tamago)

 

 



Photography

Snow Covered Vending Machines Illuminate a Frozen Hokkaido

October 6, 2017

Kate Sierzputowski

There are over five and a half million vending machines across Japan which sell a variety of merchandise from soda and cigarettes, to fresh eggs and flowers. These machines are not only scattered within the large city centers of the country, but also are common sights in smaller, more rural towns. The beverage dispensers are functional all night, serving as main a light source in remote areas without prevalent night life or street lamps.

Many vending machines populate the country’s prefecture of Hokkaido, a northern island that experiences harsh winters. Photographer Eiji Ohashi noticed how the light from these vending machines would illuminate surrounding snow, precipitation that had either piled on top of the machine or buried it completely. These glowing subjects became a source of intrigue for Ohashi who has created a series based on the machines titled Time to Shine.

“As dusk approaches, roadside vending machines light up in cities and in the outskirts,” says Ohashi in a statement. “These scenes of vending machines, ordinarily standing on the roadside, are particular to Japan. The vending machines downtown or in the wilderness, placed to stand in solitude, are an image of loneliness. They work tirelessly, whether it is day or night. But once their sales drop, they are taken away. If they do not glow and shine, they will stop existing. There might be something human about them.”

Ohashi compiled several of the images from his series into a photobook titled Roadside Lights. You can see other images from a snow-covered Hokkaido on his website. (via Spoon & Tamago)

 

 



Design

Dozens of Rice Varieties Form Colorful Drawings in the Fields of Inakadate, Japan

September 26, 2017

Kate Sierzputowski

The village of Inakadate is an area of Japan most known for its production of rice, an agricultural product that has grown in the surrounding fields for over 2,000 years. In order to increase tourism to the small village, officials began a traditional of creating large, elaborate images by strategically plantings different varieties of rice. Nearly 25 years later, the town is known throughout the country for its colorful rice drawings, which occur each year with the help of hundreds (and sometimes thousands) of local volunteers.

To begin the process for upcoming designs, there is first a conference to discuss possible ideas. Next government officials make simple computer mockups of the winning designs, which are then sent to local art teachers for more conceptual renderings. Finally, markers are placed into the fields to create what is essentially a large-scale paint-by-number, the entire process taking up to three months.

You can see more images of the famous rice paddy fields in the video above. (via Great Big Story)

 

 



Photography

Magnificent Photographs of Japan’s Summer Firework Festivals

September 13, 2017

Christopher Jobson

Furukawa Fireworks Festival

Summer in Japan means colorful explosions in the sky, where some 200 firework festivals called “hanabi taikai” are held across the country in July and August, a tradition that dates back to the early 18th century. At many events, pyrotechnicians actually compete to create the best firework show, with extreme attention to detail in scale, color, and design. Photographer Keisuke trekked to several shows this summer and captured the most eye-opening moments of these nighttime events. Although just 25 years old, the photographer has received numerous awards for his landscape photography of Japan and he’s amassed quite a following on Instagram.

 

 



Craft Food

New Edible ‘Amezaiku’ Animal Lollipop Designs by Shinri Tezuka

August 24, 2017

Christopher Jobson

Based out of a Tokyo candy shop called Ameshin, candy artisan Shinri Tezuka (previously) crafts some of the most unusual lollipops you’re ever likely to eat from wiggling goldfish to statuesque lions or prickly hedgehogs. The translucent candy seems to have more in common with glassmaking than confectionery design, and perhaps it’s no surprise that the process of working with hot sugar even shares similar tools—a traditional Japanese craft called amezaiku. Tezuka recently shared a variety of new lollipop designs on his Instagram account and you can step inside the Ameshin candy shop in a video from DogaTV below.