The Origami bookmark you can make for free

Origami-Bookmark

I can’t tell you how many times over the past five decades I needed a bookmark when none were around. Bookmarks are designed to reside most comfortably between the pages of a book, which makes them awkward to keep in your pocket, wallet, or purse, which is really where you want them when you suddenly need one.

This results in lots of corners being torn off magazines and newspapers to use in a pinch. But the bookmark you get from tearing off a corner is small and often slides either out of the book or down between the pages. And don’t mention folding the corner of the page over – don’t go there. Book publishers (that’s me) don’t like to hear that.

Of course, origami will solve your problem. Before you give up and think, “I can never get those damn paper folds right,” let me soothe your anxiety by explaining that making one of these cute and clever origami bookmarks is easy as pie and takes about a minute.

The Origami Resource Center online teaches oodles of methods for simple square origami bookmarks, or more decorative versions including pandas, penguins, peacocks, and Santas. From that website is a simple square fold that you can make even if you’ve never folded a piece of paper before. I’ve simplified it a bit more, making it (hopefully) even easier.

First, you need a piece of paper, exactly square – anywhere from 4 to 8 inches will do. And I’ll use a piece of origami paper in the photos so it’s easier for you to keep track of which side is which (commonly found origami paper is colored on one side and white on the other). Read the rest

Perserving the Japanese Way: Traditions of Salting, Fermenting and Pickling for the Modern Kitchen

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See sample pages from this book at Wink.

I saw the sour plums on the cover of Preserving the Japanese Way calling out to me from the highest bookshelf at teeny-tiny Moon Palace Bookstore, Minneapolis. As the Master Food Preserver for my county, I’m a sucker for beautiful books on food preservation. Angela, the owner, clapped and oohed as I plunked it down. “I love this book. I can’t cook, but this book makes me want to eat!”

I’m authorized by the State of Wisconsin to teach the safest scientifically proven methods of food preservation. In my teaching, I’ve heard lovely stories of immigrant grandmothers and their favorite recipes and the joy keeping these traditions alive brings to people. This connectivity to our shared and adopted cultures is one of the most compelling aspects to Preserving the Japanese Way. Nancy Singleton Hachisu is a wonderfully opinionated ex-pat who embraced rural Japanese culture with her marriage to a Hokkaido farmer nearly thirty years ago. Her notes and recommendations are informed by her American “keep trying” attitude, coupled with the Japanese concept of perfecting a singular thing.

Hachisu follows her insatiable curiosity in discovering the old ways. Her vignettes of meetings with artisanal makers are entertaining and informative. Her explanations and definitions of very specific Japanese ingredients are profoundly useful; for the first time ever I understood the nuances of soy sauces. She also acknowledges that artisanally made food is expensive. She recognizes that not everyone has the monetary luxury of purchasing small-batch regional soy sauces and offers accessible and easily available substitutes. Read the rest

Printed circuit board masking tape

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A must-have for the with-it cyberpunk, and it's appropriately hard to get ahold of, being sold only through a Japanese website that uses translation-software-resistant graphics of Japanese text set against an animated background that made mincemeat of all the Japanese-English OCR software I tried it on (I think this is the orders page, but couldn't get more than one word in four out of Google Translate's photo-text converter). Read the rest

Handmade Japanese leather goldfish bags

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Atelier Iwakiri handmakes its nubuck goldfish purses to order, with a two-week to three-month lead time between orders and delivery. Read the rest

Entertaining animated history of Japan

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Bill Wurtz made this fun and informative 9-minute history of Japan. Read the rest

'Low Pixel,' a ceramic art series by Toshiya Masuda

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For his Low Pixel ceramic sculpture series, Japanese artist Toshiya Masuda “pixelates” common objects. Soda cans, flowers, liquor bottles, all are reduced to low rez video game style facsimiles.

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Highball tumblers with tiny Mt Fujis in their base

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They're handmade and the tiny mountains change color based on the color of the drink you serve in them, come in a gorgeous gift box, but they're also a whopping $88 each. Read the rest

Independent economists: TPP will kill 450,000 US jobs; 75,000 Japanese jobs, 58,000 Canadian jobs

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Proponents of the secretly negotiated Trans Pacific Partnership -- which lets companies force governments to get rid of their labor, environmental and safety rules in confidential tribunals -- say it's all worth it because it will deliver growth and jobs to the stagnant economies of the rich world. Read the rest

Impossibly cute paper clips shaped like cats, dogs, and wild animals

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I like to buy these adorable little critter-shaped paperclips from stationary accessories maker Midori of Japan on Amazon. They work just the same as regular paperclips, but they add a lot of sweetness and personality when the design matters, not just the function.

More than 24 designs are available in Midori's super-kawaii D-Clips series, with lots of little animals and birds to choose from: elephant, turtle, squirrels, whales, penguin, and more, on sale for $7-8 per pack of 30 clips at the time of this blog post.

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That ain’t baloney, it’s magic!

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Yasuo Amano, a Tenyo collector, author of the Japanese blog Hey Presto, and all around creative guy recently bought a package of what is known in Japan as “Fan Shaped Sausage.” It appears to be a cross between salami, baloney, or perhaps a luncheon meat as yet undefined.

He took out a few slices, put them on a plate, and saw something that no one else in Japan noticed, which is pretty impressive considering its population of almost 200 million people. Said slabs of meat can be used to do a well-known magic trick (or, more rightly, the optical illusion shown above). But it all looks so innocent on the plate.

Discovered by Joseph Jastrow in 1889, magicians have been performing this for years and calling them “Magic Boomerangs.” Two pieces of identical size and shape, when placed one below the other, produce the uncanny illusion that one is larger and the other smaller. Take another look up at the lead photo: that ain’t no baloney! Both pieces are exactly the same size.

The question of why it looks so amazing can be answered by the first magic set produced in Germany after World War II, in which I discovered said boomerang trick with props that were short and very squat. This produces a much stronger illusion that what magicians have been futzing around with for years.

If you want to do magic tricks with your canapés, then you may attempt to order the “Fan-Shaped Sausage” from its manufacturer.

As an added bonus, since we’re still on Yamano’s fascination with making magic tricks out of edibles, take a look at this video, in which he manages something miraculous with a French fry and the Tenyo trick “Zig Zag Cig” invented by Hiroshi Kondo decades ago. Read the rest

Blue's is a magazine about Japanese construction worker culture

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“There’s no media anywhere about these guys, but they’re so cool!” That's the thought Tomonobu Yanagi had when he decided to make a magazine about "construction culture." Yanagi was a punk musician in the 1970s, and now manages a waterworks construction firm. He teamed up with Japanese “new journalism” writer Gensho Ishimaru (known for writing about his recreational drug trips) to launch Blue's Magazine. With lavish photos, it covers subjects such as the kind of food construction workers favor (salty, greasy food), what it is like to be on a crew rebuilding the Fukushima area, and the influx of construction workers from Africa and America.

From Ignition:

Before BLUE’S, no “culture magazine” had ever written profiles of the men who work at construction sites. Because of that, though, there are really no fixed rules or formulas for how to make such a magazine. Every issue’s layout, Ishimaru says, presents a fresh challenge, and forces the pair to reinvent the rules from zero. The best example of this may be the magazine’s cover design, which features photos of construction artist Hironari Kubota in a loincloth

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Giant inflatable duck hates drinking water in Japan

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In this Japanese TV commercial we learn that anyone who tries to prevent college students from enjoying any beverage other than water will face the wrath of a giant inflatable duck.

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Walk through the incredible installation inside the Japan pavillion at Venice Biennale

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Last spring, we went to Venice to celebrate my wife's birthday and took a boat to the Biennale, which was pretty disappointing, with one notable exception: 'The Key in the Hand,' Chiharu Shiota's installation at the Japan pavilion, which took our breath away.

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This line from a Rage Against The Machine song sounds like something funny in Japanese

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“Rage Against the Machine's Killing in the Name lyrics "and now you do what they told ya" sounds like 'break the chicken nuggets, daddy' in Japanese,” says Redditor seasalty_. “A television show made a video about it.” Read the rest

Steiff Japan's centaur teddybears

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The Teddytaur is an actual, $400 product, made from alpaca-wool, sold by high-end toymaker Steiff in its Japanese store. (Thanks, Fipi Lele!) Read the rest

Book and Bed: Tokyo's coffin hotel/bookstore

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If you're in Ikebukuro and need a cozy, bookish bed for the night, try Book and Bed, a "designed hostel" that hides coffin-hotel-style bunks among bookshelves lined with handsome volumes and rolling ladders. The books aren't for sale, but you're welcome to read them in your bunk. Read the rest

Fully poseable, articulated Michaelangelo's David action-figure

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It's been nearly a decade since a single thumbnail image of Michaelangelo's David's willie caused a censorware company founded by a registered sex-offender to block Boing Boing for all its clients as a "nudity" site. This post will probably blow their minds. Read the rest

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