Japan

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Craft Food

Miniature Embroideries by ipnot Transform Thread into Delicious Designs

January 9, 2019

Kate Sierzputowski

Japanese embroidery artist ipnot (previously) continues to dazzle us with her creative miniatures formed from thread and embroidery hoops. The works often incorporate props, such as ketchup bottles or chopsticks, to add an interactive layer to the pieces. Textile noodles are staged in slurping position while a perfect pile of ketchup appears to have just been dolloped onto another one of her works. The artist’s realistic designs typically involve food, like her recent sushi stop-motion animation, or a hovering pizza slice that appears to be connected to an embroidery hoop with melted cheese. You can see more of the artist’s embroideries on Instagram.

 

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Sushi Roll🍣 – #embroidery #stopmotion #ipnot#節分#恵方巻#刺繍

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Photography

Traditional and Contemporary Japanese Culture Collides in Striking Photographs by RK

December 7, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

Tokyo-based photographer RK explores the far reaches of Japan, as well as neighboring Asian countries, shooting images that capture both timeless and of-the-moment scenes.  RK often includes signs of life in his landscape images, whether a fisherman casting a line beneath a vibrant Japanese maple tree, or a carefree skateboarder cruising down a paved road with Hokkaido looming in the distance. The photographer also highlights the densely-packed nature of life in Japan, from masses of commuters forming a sea of umbrellas to shop owners surrounded by huge selections of neatly organized inventory.

Despite the highly composed quality of his photos, RK shares with Colossal, “There’s always new places I want to take photos, so I always try to find new compositions and ideas when arriving at the photo spot.” RK explains that he came across photography by chance: he was immersed in street culture and working as a professional DJ, when he joined an urban running crew and the founder asked him to take some photos of his teammates. From there, he dove into the field, teaching himself to shoot and edit images.

You can see more of RK’s work on his website and stay up-to-date on his most recent photographs and travels via Instagram. (via This Isn’t Happiness)

 

 



Photography

Charming Photographs Capture the Daily Life of Three Daughters Growing Up in Kamakura, Japan

November 27, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

Japanese photographer Shin Noguchi’s series One Two Three follows the daily explorations, amusements, and tantrums of his three daughters, nine-year-old Yumeji, four-year-old Kotoyo, and two-year-old Hikono. The unplanned snapshots capture split-second moments of beauty such as a bubble floating perfectly in frame to surround his daughters’ faces in one image, or a photograph of his toddler at the table fast asleep behind a large cheese pizza.

“I just click the shutter when the moment is right during the life of my family,” explains Noguchi to Colossal. “I definitely hear a kind of music while clicking the shutter—the unposed, unstaged moments that exist. It’s like improvisations in Jazz. Like Eric Dolphy said, If I missed it, it’s gone in the air, I can never capture it again.”

Noguchi was inspired to start documenting his children after losing his father to stage four lung cancer in 2017. When packing up his father’s things he found previously unseen pictures of his own childhood taken by his mother which inspired him to engage in a more comprehensive documentation of his own family’s life. “If someone asks me, ‘Are these photos then art, or life?’ I want to say that ‘life is art,'” he explains. “I never called my photography ‘art,’ but definitely they show me what I feel art to be.”

You can see more photographs from the quiet and loud moments of Noguchi’s daughters’ lives on his website and Instagram. (via Īgnant)

 

 



Design History Illustration

Hundreds of Japanese Firework Illustrations Now Available for Free Download

November 15, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

In the early 20th-century English fireworks company C.R. Brock and Company (now known as Brocks Fireworks) published colorful catalogs displaying designs from Japanese companies such as Hirayama Fireworks and Yokoi Fireworks. Six catalogs of diverse pyrotechnic diagrams have been digitized and made available for download thanks to the city of Yokohama’s public library. If you don’t read Japanese, you can download each publication’s PDF by visiting their website, clicking one of the book’s English titles near the bottom of the page, and then clicking “本体PDF画像” link below the image. Each catalog is a tremendous and varied selection of the firework shapes and colors of the time, with several designs you might recognize no matter where you view contemporary fireworks displays. (via Open Culture)

 

 



Art

Moonlit Owls, Tigers, and Dragons Set Against Ethereal Backgrounds in Paintings by Takashi Kanazawa

November 6, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

Japanese artist Takashi Kanazawa paints animals such as tigers, owls, cranes, and dragons set against minimal backdrops which are lit by large waning moons. The scenes are painted on washi paper, a Japanese material produced by hand with local fiber, and are a twist on traditional Japanese painting, or Nihonga. The term was established near the turn of the 19th-century when Western oil painting became popularized in Japan, and refers to the traditional painting materials, techniques, and subjects rooted deeply in Japan’s art history.

Kanazawa’s work was recently included in the group exhibition NIHONGA: Contemporary Art of JapanSEIZAN Gallery‘s inaugural show in their New York City location. The exhibition brought together seven painters who reinterpret traditional Japanese art techniques through a contemporary lens. You can see more of Kanazawa’s painting on SEIZAN Gallery’s website.

 

 



Design

The Art of Japanese Funeral Floral Arrangements

October 3, 2018

Johnny Waldman

The farewell ceremony for actress Kirin Kiki took place on September 30, 2018 | Photo courtesy Sankei News

Last weekend, at the farewell ceremony for the late actress Kirin Kiki, a large display of white flowers, designed to look like a wave, greeted the constant flow of family members, fans and celebrities that had come to pay their respects, and to say farewell to the 75-year old who had passed away from cancer on September 15. The white wave of flowers was comprised of roughly 1200 chrysanthemums, orchids, and gypsophila (an ornamental flower known as baby’s-breath in the West).

Relatively speaking, the wave of flowers at Kiki’s farewell ceremony was actually quite modest, in accordance with her wishes for a simple gathering. Attempt to search the Internet for 生花祭壇 (seikasaidan, which literally means fresh flower altar) and you’ll see any number of extravagant designs.

The company Ito Sogi has a online catalog of funeral floral altars you can choose from

The wave motif itself is actually a common one in Japan, alongside the mountain. Both are typically used for men because they symbolize strength, but the rules of the old guard are starting to come down. Even chrysanthemums, which used to be the only accepted flower, are now joined by other white flowers, sometimes even colorful ones. But the alter of plentiful flowers is relatively recent, having originated in Kyoto just 30 years ago. This would make sense though because the technology and logistics involved in procuring large batches of fresh flowers is also relatively recent.

Diagram explaining the 6 stages of the chrysanthemum blossoms, from the book Nippon no Seikasaidan

A lot of money is spent on funeral flowers in Japan. In fact, in 2006 Beauty Kadan became the first publicly traded Japanese company specializing in funeral flowers when it listed itself on the Mother’s section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Youkaen, a general flower company that entered the funeral flower business in 1972 now says that roughly 75% of their 50 billion yen in sales (roughly $44 mm USD) comes from their funeral flower segment.

Over the summer, Haruichi Mimura, the founder of funeral flower company Sunvillage, published a massive 480 page book detailing the intricacies of seikasaidan. It’s an extensive look at the details involved in created fresh flower alters: everything from history and tools to the types of flowers and designs. It’s available from Pie Books and also Amazon. (Syndicated from Spoon & Tamago)

 

 

 



Design History Illustration

An Early 20th Century Guide to Wave Designs for Japanese Craftsmen is Now Available Online

September 26, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

In 1903, Japanese artist Mori Yuzan’s wave designs were published in a resource guide for Japanese craftsmen looking to add aquatic motifs to their wares. The three-volume series, titled Hamonshū, includes variations on contained and free-form wave patterns suitable for embellishing swords, religious objects, and ceramics. The collection has recently been digitized and is available for free on Internet Archive, a non-profit digital library of free books, movies, and software. (via My Modern Met)