Japanese woodcut artisan makes iconic David Bowie mashups

Artist Masumi Ishikawa has announced a new project to immortalize iconic David Bowie imagery in the style of ukiyo-e, or Japanese woodcuts. Read the rest

Watch how to make patterns in cross-sectioned clay

Nerikomi is a classical form of pottery where different colored clays are rolled into cylinders, then cross-sectioned to reveal a pattern. So soothing to watch the string cut through!

Faith Rahill has a great step-by-step demonstration here:

Nerikomi (often referred to as “neriage”) is a decorative process established in Japan that involves stacking colored clay and then slicing through the cross section to reveal a pattern, which can then be used as an applied decoration. Nerikomi designs provide a wonderful way to work three dimensionally with patterns and images. The results reflect a combination of both careful planning and accidental surprise, plus it’s exciting work for those who love patterns and are drawn to the wet-clay stage of pottery making.

Here are a couple more examples with far less annoying music. The agate pottery revealed after firing the glaze is especially nice:

Centuries old pottery gets new layer (YouTube / NHK WORLD-JAPAN) Read the rest

Buddhist funeral service for robot dogs

When Sony announced in 2014 that support was ending for Aibo, their pioneering line of robotic dogs, former Sony employee Nobuyuki Norimatsu launched A-Fun, a repair service in Japan, to take care of any ailing Aibos. Things progressed from there. Video below. From National Geographic:

Norimatsu came to regard the broken AIBOs his company received as “organ donors.” Out of respect for the owners’ emotional connection to the “deceased” devices, Norimatsu and his colleagues decided to hold funerals.

A-Fun approached Bungen Oi, head priest of Kōfuku-ji, a Buddhist temple in Chiba Prefecture's city of Isumi. Oi agreed to take on the duty of honoring the sacrifice of donor AIBOs before their disassembly. In 2015, the centuries-old temple held its first robot funeral for 17 decommissioned AIBOs. Just as with the repairs, demand for funeral ceremonies quickly grew...

According to Head Priest Oi, honoring inanimate objects is consistent with Buddhist thought. Nippon.com quotes the priest: “Even though AIBO is a machine and doesn’t have feelings, it acts as a mirror for human emotions.”

Read the rest

Japanese people try American style sushi. Not impressed.

Asian Boss asked Japanese people on the streets in Tokyo to try American style sushi.

"I can see that they try to hide the fish flavor by using mayonnaise and adding a bunch of avocado."

Indeed. Read the rest

Japanese try western style sushi

In the latest episode of Asian Boss, people in the streets of Japan are given American style sushi and asked what they think about it. Most of them don't consider the complex, spicy concoctions to be sushi at all. Sample comments: "This is sushi?" "It tastes like Indian food." "Japanese people won't like this." "Not sushi." "I'd rate it 0 as a sushi." "I would never order this at a restaurant."

Image: Youtube/Asian Boss. Read the rest

Bandai is manufacturing armored cats

Bandai created armored cats ("Nekobusou") as a jokey tweet whose unexpected popularity inspired the toymaker to go into production with a like of armored cat figurines ranging from $5-14 each. Read the rest

Hollow bookends that contain dioramae of Tokyo's narrow alleyways

Tokyo artist Monde created a set of bookends for last week's Tokyo Design Festa that are tall, narrow dioramae containing detailed miniatures of the narrow laneways of Tokyo, with street furniture, signage and cobblestones; alas, these don't appear to be production items (and would need some kind of weight or underbook tongues to serve as effective bookends), but they're lovely to look at! Read the rest

How to use a Japanese purikura machine

Purikura means "printing club" in Japanese. It's basically a place for teens and kids to take their pictures in photobooths, filter them, and print them out as stickers. I took my daughters to the purikura shown here on Takeshita Street, and we really didn't know what we were doing, because the touch screens were in Japanese and loaded with options. I also noticed signs that said "No Men Allowed." The guy working there noticed that I was looking at the sign and he said, "Family OK!" and gave me the OK sign with his hand.

This video explains how to use a purikura machine. It still confuses me. Read the rest

This Japanese body wash commercial is my everything

I've got nothing. Just... just watch this. Read the rest

Experimental 1080p video footage offers an uncannily sharp snapshot of 1992 in Japan

Good-Night TOKYO was video recorded in 1992 using a high-definition camera with features that didn't become standard on consumer devices for 20 years: 1080 lines and 60 frames per second. The world depicted is clearly from decades ago, but is recorded with a sharpness and starkness that signifies the present day, at least in the U.S. and Europe. It's a fascinating artifact which reminds me how carefully composed period films and shows have to be, because the real world is in truth empty of old things and overstuffed with the new.

It doesn't say in the video description, but this was perhaps a trade pitch for Japan public broadcaster' NHK's high-definition LaserDisc specifications. Read the rest

Watch this lovely tribute to Isao Takahata's groundbreaking animation career

Animation visionary Isao Takahata of Studio Ghibli fame died on April 5, and Smithsonian magazine published a great written overview that complements the video essay above. Read the rest

A visit to a self-service sushi restaurant in Japan

You have probably seen sushi restaurants where plates of different kinds of sushi move past you on a conveyor belt. These kinds of places are called kaitenzushi. Here's one where you order sushi on a touch screen and the sushi arrives on a little rail system, stopping right in front of you. I want to go and see how it works. Read the rest

This is the world's smallest sushi

At Tokyo's Sushiya no Nohachi (すし屋の野八) you can order sushi made with just one grain of rice (粒寿司). Fortunately, after the novelty wears off, you can also order regular-sized sushi that's said to be excellent! A plate of tiny sushi is free, so long as you also drop around US$50 on regular sushi. The tiny sushi plate includes Toro (tuna), Tai (sea bream), Chūtoro (medium fatty tuna), Hokkigai (surf clam), Uni (sea urchin), Tako (octopus), Tamago (egg), Gari (pickled ginger). From Tofugu:

The tiny sushi idea originally came from a customer in 2002 who challenged the owner's son (Ikeno Hironori) to see how small he could make a piece of sushi. Over time, it became something they were known for.

That said, when we asked how often they need to make a plate of small sushi, we were surprised.

"Just a few times a week and at most five times in a day." Though when customers from overseas order, they tend to be extra enthusiastic about the tiny sushi.

He told us that one woman from Europe burst into tears and cried for an hour and a half after seeing the cute, little sushi.

Read the rest

Gorgeous scrap-electronics wearable cyberpunk assemblages from Hiroto Ikeuchi

Tokyo designer Hiroto Ikeuchi creates amazing wearable cyberpunk assemblages out of scrap electronics and other odds and sods. Read the rest

How to get food in Japan without knowing how to speak Japanese

This is a fun video introduction to feeding yourself in Japan, even if you don't know Japanese. Really, it's pretty easy to get food in Japan if you're a foreigner, but this video shows you different options, from konbini (convenience stores, which are much better than the ones in the US), to chain restaurants (again, usually tastier than US chains), to shopping mall food courts (beautiful and mind bending), and actual non-chain eateries. Read the rest

Here's a charming giant paramecium made of felt

For a group gallery show titled, "The Kingdom of Specimens," longtime fave Hiné Mizushima created these delightful felt paramecia. Read the rest

Photo of a homeless man's homemade shelter in a Tokyo park

I've been to Yoyogi Park in Tokyo many times, but I've never seen a homeless encampment there. Redditor biwook took this photo of one of the shelters there. Whoever built it did an excellent job. There's a little sign in front. I can understand three of the four kanji characters: "stand up" "enter" "???" and "stop." What does the sign say?

A homeless guy's home in Yoyogi park. Looks nicer than my apartment. from r/Tokyo

Top image: Photogra Fer/Flickr. Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) Read the rest

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