Japan

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Art

Mysterious Underwater ‘Crop Circles’ Discovered Off the Coast of Japan

September 19, 2012

Christopher Jobson

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration less than five percent of the world’s oceans have been explored, meaning that 95% of what lies deep underwater on Earth has yet to be seen by human eyes.

One person who has dedicated his life to uncovering the mysteries of the deep is Japanese photographer Yoji Ookata who obtained his scuba license at the age of 21 and has since spent the last 50 years exploring and documenting his discoveries off the coast of Japan. Recently while on a dive near Amami Oshima at the southern tip of the country, Ookata spotted something he had never encountered before: rippling geometric sand patterns nearly six feet in diameter almost 80 feet below sea level. He soon returned with colleagues and a television crew from the nature program NHK to document the origins what he dubbed the “mystery circle.”

Here is what they found.

Using underwater cameras the team discovered the artist is a small puffer fish only a few inches in length that swims tirelessly through the day and night to create these vast organic sculptures using the gesture of a single fin. Through careful observation the team found the circles serve a variety of crucial ecological functions, the most important of which is to attract mates. Apparently the female fish are attracted to the hills and valleys within the sand and traverse them carefully to discover the male fish where the pair eventually lay eggs at the circle’s center, the grooves later acting as a natural buffer to ocean currents that protect the delicate offspring. Scientists also learned that the more ridges contained within the sculpture resulted in a much greater likelihood of the fish pairing.

To learn more about the circles check out the full scoop over on Spoon and Tamago, and you can see two high resolution desktop photos courtesy of NHK here. If we’re still making discoveries this significant in 2012, it really makes you wonder what else is down there. Just 95% more to go.

 

 



Art

100,000 LED Spheres Flowing Down a Japanese River

May 13, 2012

Christopher Jobson

As part of the recent Tokyo Hotaru Festival, 100,000 illuminated blue LEDs were released in the Sumida River. The massive installation of solar-powered spheres was meant to mimic a swarm of fireflies that twisted and bobbed along the river by moonlight. For those of you worried about pollution or safety, the lights were later caught downstream by giant nets. See much more over at Spoon & Tamago. (photos by jeremy v, makure, and ajpscs)

 

 



Photography

Snow Monkeys at the Jigokudani Monkey Park

March 16, 2012

Christopher Jobson

One of my favorite recent additions to the 200 or so photographers I keep up with on Flickr is the work of Kyoto-based Kiyoshi Ookawa who has been capturing these wonderfully intimate portraits of snow monkeys. The monkeys live in a sanctuary at the Jigokudani Monkey Park which is at an elevation of 850 meters (2,788 feet) meaning that the ground is covered in snow for a third of the year. The monkeys congregate at a hot springs in the facility and if you’re lucky you might even catch them on their live webcam (no monkeys at press time).

 

 



Photography

Stunning Long Exposure Photographs of Gold Fireflies in Japan

December 30, 2011

Christopher Jobson

Taken in various locations around Maniwa and Okayama Prefecture in Japan between 2008-2011 this brilliant series of photographs captures the wild frenzy of gold fireflies as they mate after thunderstorms during the June to July rainy season. Shot using a slow shutter speed, the neon green and yellow contrails seem almost digitally imposed on the scenic landscapes, but I assure you these are real. See them a bit larger here. (via polaroid dreams)

 

 



Design

Words Can Fly: A 3D Typographic Poster in Support of Fukushima, Japan

December 26, 2011

Christopher Jobson

This beautiful typographic poster made of folded paper was designed and constructed by Montreal-based designers Kyosuke Nishida, Brian Li and Dominic Liu for the Words Can Fly A Thousand Miles Project. The piece shows a number of origami cranes bursting through the surface of carefully crafted type. Via their website:

This design was inspired by the Japanese traditional custom, Senbazuri, which means a group of a thousand origami cranes. It is customary to fold these cranes to wish someone luck. We wanted to pay tribute to this custom through the process of constructing the paper sculpture.

The words on the poster were inspired by the instant encouragement and consoling words that Japanese people were able to receive just after the tsunami and earthquakes hit Japan, through social networking services such as Facebook and Twitter.

The project is currently accepting financial donations and handwritten notes in an attempt to console and encourage people in Fukushima. You can read more and see some making of photos over on My Modern Met.

Nishida and Li were featured earlier this year on Colossal for their typographic Still Life Comes Alive installation.

 

 



Photography

Long Exposure Photos of Yurikamome High Speed Rail Transit

August 6, 2011

Christopher Jobson

Today I stumbled onto the Flickr stream of photographer Céline Ramoni based in Tokyo who for the last few years has been capturing these fantastic long exposure photos of the Yurikamome transit line that travels between the Japanese cities of Shimbashi and Toyosu. The rest of her photography is well worth your time including gems like this, and this, and oooh this.

 

 



Design

NY Store Kiosk Sources Everyday Treasures from Japan

October 22, 2010

Christopher Jobson

I stumbled onto Kiosk when doing research for the minimalist bottle openers post a few weeks ago. The folks who run this NY-based store trek far and wide to places like Sweden, Finland, or Hong Kong and pick up tons of funky stuff that you’ve probably never seen before. Some things are quirky, some utilitarian, others just decorative and fun. The spoils from their second journey to Japan went online last night.