Japan

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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.

 

 



Crafts 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.

 

 



Design

A Gigantic Buddha Statue Emerges from the Top of a Hill in Japan

August 3, 2017

Johnny Strategy

Unless otherwise noted, all photographs by Shigeo Ogawa.

Normally a cemetery wouldn’t be on our list of recommended sites to see, but the Makomanai Cemetery is one of the most awe-inspiring places we’ve ever been. Located in the outskirts of Sapporo, a large stone Buddha occupies the sprawling landscape. All 1,500 tons of it has sat alone there for 15 years. But when the cemetery decided they wanted to do something to increase visitor’s appreciations for the Buddha, they enlisted architect Tadao Ando, who had a grand and bold idea: hide the statue.

Photo by Hiroo Namiki.

“Our idea was to cover the Buddha below the head with a hill of lavender plants,” said Ando. Indeed, as you approach “Hill of Buddha” the subject is largely concealed by a hill planted with 150,000 lavenders. Only the top of the statue’s head pokes out from the rotunda, creating a visual connection between the lavender plants and the ringlets of hair on the Buddha statue’s head.

Upon entering, visitors are forced to turn left or right and walk around a rectangular lake of water before entering the 131-ft (40-meter) long approach tunnel. The journey is a constant reminder of the weather, the breeze and the light, and is works in tandem to heighten anticipation of the statue, which is only visible once you reach the end of the tunnel.

Any time of the year, visitors will have a different experience. The 150,000 lavenders “turn fresh green in spring, pale purple in summer and silky white with snow in winter.” It really is a miraculous work of environmental art. (Syndicated from Spoon & Tamago)

Photo by Hiroo Namiki.

Photo by Hiroo Namiki.

 

 



Colossal

New in the Colossal Shop: Furoshiki Scarves Hand-Made in Japan by the LINK Collective

July 6, 2017

Christopher Jobson

Kyoko Bowskill, the founder of Tokyo-based LINK, is working to revive the centuries-old Japanese tradition of carrying objects of all sorts in beautiful reusable squares of fabric: furoshiki. Made from smooth and lightweight cotton fabric and measuring 90cm square (about 35 inches), these furoshiki can be twisted into wine bottle carriers, folded for gift-wrapping, knotted into a quick tote bag, spread out for a picnic, or simply tossed around your shoulders as a scarf.

From the initial design to the finishing touches, each scarf is hand-made. LINK collaborates with designers around the world to create new imagery for their scarves, adding a modern spin to the age-old concept. The small factory where each scarf is made has decades of experience that they use to pull each screen print; carefully air dry the scarves, and hand-roll and sew each seam for a polished finish.

We’ve selected some of our favorite designs for The Colossal Shop: clever origami-inspired trompe l’oeils of dots and paper, a journey tracing the dizzying path of the mountain-weaving Hida Express train, a dreamy scene of cherry blossoms in moonlight, and a contemporary take on the classic look of ruffles.

 

 



Photography

Photos of Japanese Playground Equipment at Night by Kito Fujio

June 29, 2017

Johnny Strategy

In 2005 Kito Fujio quit his job as an office worker and became a freelance photographer. And for the last 12 years he’s been exploring various overlooked pockets of Japan like the rooftops of department stores, which typically have games and rides to entertain children while their parents are shopping. More recently, he’s taken notice of the many interesting cement-molded play equipment that dots playgrounds around Japan.

The sculptural, cement-molded play equipment is often modeled after animals that children would be familiar with. But they also take on the form of robots, abstract geometric forms and sometimes even household appliances. Fujio’s process is not entirely clear, but it appears he visits the parks at night and lights up the equipment from the inside, but also from the outside, which often creates an ominous feel to the harmless equipment.

Speaking of harmless, the nostalgic cement molds have been ubiquitous throughout Japan and, for the most part, free of safety concerns. That’s because the cement requires almost no maintenance; maybe just a fresh coat of paint every few years. The telephone (pictured below) is evidence of how long ago the equipment was probably made.

The sculptural cement equipment was a style favored by Isamu Noguchi, who designed his first landscape for children in 1933. Many of his sculptural playground equipment can be found in Sapporo but also stateside at Piedmont Park in Atlanta.

Fujio has made his photographs available as part of a series of photobooks (each priced at 800 yen) that he sells on his website. (Syndicated from Spoon & Tamago)