Japan

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Design

A Series of Japanese Benches Showcase How Pencils Are Made

August 7, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

Images via @pomo

A series of benches that surround the Mitsubishi Pencil headquarters in Tokyo give step-by-step instructions for how the brand’s pencils are made. The concrete and wood furniture dot the perimeter, adding a creative touch to the public space just beyond the company’s walls. (via Spoon & Tamago)

 

 



Design

The Japanese Mini Truck Garden Contest is a Whole New Genre in Landscaping

June 8, 2018

Johnny Strategy

The Kei Truck, or kei-tora for short, is a tiny but practical vehicle that originated in Japan. Although these days it’s widely used throughout Asia and other parts of the world, in Japan you’ll often see them used in the construction and agriculture industries as they can maneuver through small side streets and easily park. And in a more recent turn of events, apparently they’re also used as a canvas for gardening contests.

The Kei Truck Garden Contest is an annual event sponsored by the Japan Federation of Landscape Contractors. Numerous landscaping contractors from around Japan participate by arriving on site with their mini trucks and then spending several hours transforming the cargo bed into a garden.

Other than using the kei truck there are very few limitations and landscapers have incorporated everything from benches and aquariums to elements of lighting into their designs. Judges then rank the entries based on planning, expression, design, execution and environment.

We’ve included a few of our favorite entries here but you can see more on the website of the Osaka branch, as well as this PDF from the Hanshin branch. (Syndicated from Spoon & Tamago)

 

 



Art Design

A Project to Immortalize David Bowie in Traditional Woodblock Prints

June 7, 2018

Johnny Strategy

David Bowie, who passed away in 2016, had a very special connection – some may even call it a “love affair” – with Japan. He originally developed his affinity after taking an interest in Kabuki and was heavily influenced by the exaggerated gestures, costumes and make-up. He later went on to work with fashion designer Kansai Yamamoto on many iconic costumes, as well as with musicians like Tomoyasu Hotei and the filmmaker Nagisa Oshima. In a sense, the love affair has come full circle and now a project has been announced to immortalize David Bowie in the form of ukiyo-e woodblock prints that depict Bowie in elements of kabuki.

Two unique prints were announced last month from Ukiyo-e Project, an organization that creates contemporary Ukiyo-e based on elements of pop culture. Each of the prints are inspired by iconic photo shoots of Bowie, which have been translated to woodblock print by ukiyo-e artist Masumi Ishikawa.

One of these is inspired by Brian Duffy’s photograph of a bare-chested Bowie with a red lightning bolt scrawled across his face the cover of “Aladdin Sane” (1973). For the ukiyo-e print, the artist imagines Bowie as Kidomaru, a fictitious snake charmer from the Kamakura period.

The second print was inspired by Terry O’Neill’s “Diamond Dogs” promotional photograph (1974) in which Bowie is posing with a large barking dog. For this ukiyo-e print the artist imagines Bowie as Takezawa Toji, a magician and entertainer who was often depicted by Utagawa Kuniyoshi.

The prints will be on display, and available for sale (priced at 100,000 yen) at the Marc Jacobs-owned BOOKMARC in Omotesando from June 23 – July 1, 2018. The final prints will be displayed alongside photos of David Bowie, as well as other materials that show the process of creating the woodblock prints. (Syndicated from Spoon & Tamago)

left: David Bowie, Aladdin Sane, Eyes Open, 1973© Courtesy of the Duffy Archive | right: Terry O’Neill – David Bowie Diamond Dogs, 1974 © Courtesy Mouche Gallery

 

 



Design

The World’s Largest LEGO Cherry Blossom Tree Blooms in Japan

May 17, 2018

Laura Staugaitis

A record-breaking LEGO tree has taken shape at LEGOLAND Japan, a theme park in Nagoya dedicated to the beloved plastic bricks. The cherry tree’s construction marks the theme park’s first anniversary, and has been registered as the “largest LEGO brick cherry blossom tree” in the Guinness Book of World Records. It was made with 881,470 bricks which took over 6,500 hours to assemble. Superlatives aside, the hand-built tree is a spectacular sight to behold. The tree sculpture includes a grassy green base and illuminated lanterns, all made with LEGO bricks. You can watch a video of the tree’s creation below. (via My Modern Met)

 

 



Art

‘Future Flowers’ Blossom in a Digital Collaboration Presented at Japan’s Dazaifu Tenmangu Shrine

April 10, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

For the Hanami 2050 exhibition in Fukuoka, Japan, Danish floral designer Nicolai Bergmann collaborated with the Tokyo-based design firm Onesal to create a series of dazzling botanical animations. The works were created under the concept of “future flowers,” and explore creations from deep within the designers’ imaginations. Fantastical and brightly colored buds burst into bloom with a satisfying crack and sizzle, presenting arrangements that appear like a cross between a botanical garden and extraterrestrial forest.

The looping presentations were displayed on screens embedded in real foliage arranged by Bergmann, and sprung to life at the historic Shinto shrine Dazaifu Tenmangu (太宰府天満宮) from March 29 to April 1, 2018. You can see a video, and several clips, from the recent installation below.

 

 

 



Photography

The Blinged-Out Work Trucks of Japan Photographed by Todd Antony

February 13, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

For more than 40 years Japanese truck drivers have been piling on lights, patterned fabrics, and other over-the-top adornments to their work trucks, creating moving masterpieces covered in LEDs. This tradition of decorated trucks or “Dekotora” originated from a 1970s Japanese movie series inspired by Smokey and the Bandit titled Torakku Yaro or “Truck Rascals.” Drivers first began decorating their vehicles in the style of the comedy-action films in hopes of being cast in upcoming films. Eventually the extravagant trucks became a way of life for many workers, with decoration costs to produce such elaborate vehicles sometimes running over $100,000.

Although the art form is now seeing a decline after it reached its peak in the ’80s and ’90s, the Utamaro-Kai Association of Dekotora drivers has begun to help raise funds for various charity initiatives, including areas of the country that have been hit by the recent Tsunami. Photographer Todd Antony‘s latest photographic series documents the men behind the association, taking a peek inside their cabs to view the personalization that goes into each piece of machinery. You can view more of Antony’s recent projects on his website and Instagram. (via Colossal Submissions)

 

 



Design

Japanese-Designed Public Restrooms in the Shape of Fish, Crabs, Tree Stumps

February 6, 2018

Kate Sierzputowski

Flickr user and photographer Okinawa Soba (Rob) has been documenting the obscure designs of public restroom facilities on the Japanese island of Okinawa for the last six years. Rob has lived on the island, which is home to 1.3 million residents, for nearly 43 years, and has had the chance to explore some of the stranger bathrooms the prefecture has to offer. Included in this group is a koi-shaped bathroom which asks guests to enter through the mouth, a sliced orange, a stubby trunk with windows that have replaced its missing branches, and a robotic crab. You can see more of Rob’s unique Japanese finds (including these Okinawa manhole covers) on his photostream. (via Web Urbanist)