Over the weekend, Yamaha demonstrated that it doesn’t just make keyboards and bikes.
The “Two Yamahas, One Passion” exhibition at Roppongi Hills showcased prototype musical instruments and mobility machines created under the umbrella of the oddly named “project AH A MAY“, the Yamaha concept design project which was also presented at the Biennale Internationale Design Saint-Etienne 2015 in March.
The project is a joint venture between the two Yamaha arms: Yamaha Corporation and Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. One creates tools for sound, the other creates tools for mobility.
There were 13 exhibits, 6 of which were being shown in Japan for the first time. One of exhibits was a world premiere.
Fujin (God of Wind)
This marimba is designed for two performers and allows them to add and multiply their energy. The seating of the performers brings to mind the image of a two-seater motorcycle and enables the performers to enjoy the thrill of unexpected swigs and gaps as they play the marimba.
Raijin (God of Thunder)
Is this a drummer’s nightmare or a dream come true? Perhaps we should test it out with Terence Fletcher.
This design seeks to create an ideal form that will allow human beings to go beyond existing methods to express themselves. The design resembles a globe and allows performers to let their imaginations run wild on an assortment of different kinds of drums. Energy erupts centered on the performer and creates an increasingly visually dynamic world of sound.
Electric-Power Assisted Bicycle
This prototype was “inspired” by 0±0 (Zero plus/minus Zero).
The electric-power assisted bicycle is placed on a recharging stand, and when cyclists pedal it, this recharges the battery. The battery power can then be taken out of the stand and the electricity generated shared with the family and used to power musical instruments and other electric appliances. The design aims to suggest a lifestyle that takes a positive attitude and approach toward power usage.
By taking the meters on the instrument panel off the motorcycle rider’s view, the idea of the design is to enable him or her to be a part of the passing scenery. The form was created to flow from the seat to the fuel tank and was inspired by a horse motif that aims to give a sense of unity among people, nature, and the vehicle.
This is a three-wheel, multi-terrain motorbike that lights up in cool blue.
The on & off crossover of the concept refers to the multi wheel’s command over a variety of terrain – both on-road and off – that is grounded in the maneuverability unique to the format. A distinctive feature is the seamless design that sees the front and back overlap and interlace with no distinction between the two. The shape advocates a new and racy design expression evolving from the harmony of interweaving the mechanical framework with the flowing body line that makes the most of the volume of the double front wheels.
This concept model brings to life the ideal of a wheelchair that can be controlled with ease and moves elegantly while being adaptable to the needs of each individual user. It is meant to “Merge” all of the functionality required in an electrically power-assisted wheelchair with a design that creates a beautiful sitting posture and a sense of unity between the user and the chair. All this makes it a design concept model that offers excellence in CMF (Color, Material and Finish) in a design aimed at enriching the lifestyles of wheelchair users.
These two concept models explore the potential fun of mobility based on two themes that express expectations for the future, the allure of a racing machine, respect for time-honored forms and styling, and the exhilaration that comes from experiencing the cutting-edge. With a design theme of “Future Racing,” the 03GEN-f expresses the futuristic appeal of Yamaha LMW models with racing-inspired styling. The 03GEN-x features a timeless design based on a “Cross” (crossover) theme that combines classic off-road model elements with the latest LMW structure.
This keyboard has a nice Eighties feel to it!
He exploited local artistic tropes as well as socio-political themes to bring some sharp messages to local pedestrians on the sidewalks and streets of Japan.
In Chiba City, the Barcelona-based artist created Gulliver near an unassuming railway crossing using bonsai and the motif of a boy gardener.
Pejac says: “Using an icon of Japanese culture that I have always felt interest in, as the bonsai, I have wanted to make a surrealistic work that plays with scale of different elements.”
Shark-fin soup was created in Shibuya.
“This is a work that make use of the classic anime aesthetics to camouflage criticism of reality much less kind: the genocide of a species (sharks) for which Japanese consumers are not solely but mainly responsibly for. A sea beast that emerges in the city revealing a human bite on its fin.”
The more overtly Japanese Seppuku also appeared in Shibuya, though this time in a side alley.
“I originally conceived this as an ‘indoor’ painting some time ago. I couldn’t help but make this sort of tribute as a manner of saying thank-you to Japanese culture for the inspiration that drove me to create it in the first place.”
For Everyone is an Artist Pejac went to Kawasaki, just west of Tokyo.
“Making use of the Joseph Beuys affirmation, I made this tribute to all working women of the world.”
A charwoman silhouette seems to stand in for every suffering housewife in Japan as she pours away her dirty water — which is transformed into Hokusai’s Great Wave off Kanagawa, probably the most famous ukiyoe print of all time.
We recently featured a beautiful video featuring miniatures of traditional Japanese architecture and gardens.
Well, here’s the modern-day version!
This is a contemporary Tokyo landmark in minimal 1/100 scale.
The Terada Mokei team have created a stop-motion animation of the most famous intersection in the world — Shibuya Crossing in front of Shibuya Station, informally known as “Scramble Crossing”.
The animation features around 1,000 different “characters” called Genki-kun, made using paper models from the Terada Mokei architectural models. Look out for tiny buses, cars and more.
The animation was directed by Tomohiro Okazaki, with production direction by Naoki Terada.
Terada Mokei also produced this cool 1/100-scale sumo wrestling model.
PythagoraSwitch is an educational NHK TV show about science and engineering. It has inspired a generation of youngsters (and dads) to try building and figuring out how things work. It’s unashamedly geeky but also creative, since the contraptions showcased in its most famous segment are essentially “useless” Rube Goldberg machines.
Of course, PythagoraSwitch has spawned a thousand imitators at home: families and kids building intricate routes for balls to travel across.
But now you can add the official NHK touch to your homemade devices with the PythagoraSwitch Goal Machine No.1.
Happinet has teamed up with NHK to make this toy, which replicates the feel of the original show.
When the ball enters the “goal machine” the green PythagoraSwitch flag is raised and the iconic jingle from the TV show is played.
For the engineering buffs, here’s how the inside of the goal machine itself works.
And here it is in action.
The makers prepared more examples of the kind of elaborate contraptions you can create.
Here is one involving laundry pegs and a bridge.
This one has a tunnel, Jenga blocks and more!
This one has a mini whiteboard, chopsticks, and even a toy bus.
Finally, this ingenious design starts with a vibrating cellphone causing the ball to roll… and then keeps on become more and more elaborate.
Now Haneda is undergoing a mini make-over, courtesy of Mercedes-Benz.
From July 22nd, Haneda Airport Terminal 2’s basement floor will get a new branded space, including a lounge installed with digital devices, a “collection shop” with fashion and lifestyle curation, and restaurants and cafes. Around the stores will be a gallery space, showcasing exhibits of the latest vehicle models.
The eateries announced so far are eggcellent BITES and Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, who aren’t the most obvious choices of partners for a luxury automobile maker. They will serve food and drink original to the Haneda terminal.
Mercedes me Tokyo Haneda is the first “Mercedes me” outlet in Asia and the first time the global brand portal has ventured into an airport. The Shinagawa Mercedes dealer will actually handle the services, so there won’t actually be a separate Mercedes-Benz dealership inside the airport.
Mercedes, like Audi and Lexus, also maintains a brand “third space” in central Tokyo. Mercedes-Benz Connection is located in Roppongi and functions as an event and food space.
People in Japan may not know Yutaka Foods but if you’ve bought any Japanese food in the UK or elsewhere in Europe, the chances are it was imported by them.
Yutaka Foods has just released an ad, Japanese Diorama, that revels in Japan’s “miniature” image, using a series of intricately detailed models of Japanese settings.
The commercial referenced how we associate Japan as the land where everything is “tiny” but also pays homage to its love of miniatures.
Model-making culture is alive and kicking in Japan, from impressive museum models (take a trip to the Ghibli Museum or the Edo-Tokyo Museum to see what we mean) to “fake food” samples at restaurants, while hobbyists still enjoy the art of making papercraft models and die-cast models like the innovative Tamashi series by Bandai.
The video was made by GetNewDesign, a London design agency.
Here’s what James Reeve, who runs GetNewDesign, had to say about the making of the ad.
The 70-second ad was shot in London using miniature models painstakingly created by our team of model makers. (It took them 5 weeks to build 5 different sets.) The actual shoot took 5 days and the entire video was shot on 16mm film. We wanted to use traditional film cameras to give the video a sense of nostalgia that you can only achieve with a real film grain.
Even better than the real thing.
So reads the tagline and these models truly live up to that: for the first few seconds you cannot tell they are replicas.
There are trees and moss, stone steps and a lantern. Also look out for the perfectly made sunken hearth (iori), sliding doors, tatami mats, and even shrine gates.
Here’s the video.
Here are some images from behind the scenes, showing the scale of the models.
Just an ordinary weekend in Tokyo? Wrong. Saturday witnessed the first ever robot wedding.
As we reported back in May, Maywa Denki’s Frois bot and the AKB48 Yuki Kashiwagi idol-lookalike android Yukirin (here renamed Roborin) joined together in holy matrimony at Aoyama Cay in Spiral, central Tokyo.
The non-legally binding ceremony was an event (called Robo-kon, or “robot wedding”) produced by Japan’s favorite tech and music anarchists, Maywa Denki, who created the “groom” (Frois). The “bride” was made by Takayuki Todo in the likeness of a certain Japanese music idol (whose name was withheld from the official PR materials).
The handful of lucky guests who attended (paying ¥10,000, or more than $80 for the privilege) witnessed the happy occasion as the mechanical couple tied the knot.
The proceedings were presided over by Aldebaran and Softbank’s robot Pepper, who can normally be found in certain Softbank phone stores offering entertainment to customers. Frois may not be the most conventionally good-looking of grooms: “he” is a kind of large red bath stool robot. Well, who says romance is dead?
The wedding ceremony pulled out all the bells and whistles, with a male and female MC, Pepper as the “priest”, plus a walk (actually, more like being gently wheeled) down the aisle, a cake — and even a kiss.
Tails of Head is a project by HYdeJII where a specially adapted robotic vacuum cleaner creates paintings using multiple colors.
Head-kun (aka Mr Head) is the artist. According to his (?) profile, Head-kun is 15 years old and a robotic painter converted from an unnamed robotic vacuum cleaner product by iRobot.
The process is very time-consuming but involves Head-kun traveling over the same space countless times, dripping different acrylic paints onto a canvas measuring 1,000mm x 1,000mm.
This is Spring Starburst (2015).
This is Spring Worm Hole (2014).
While paintings created by robots is not a new gimmick by any means, we haven’t seen one done by a vacuum cleaner bot like this before. Sure there was a nice light painting by Roomba cleaners and a iRobot Scooba 450 did some impressive seascapes, but Head-kun is surely the Jackson Pollock of this genre.
Here is how Head-kun created his drip paintings.
Dominique Ansel, the acclaimed Parisian-style New York bakery, has opened its first overseas outlet — in Tokyo.
The new bakery opened at the plush Omotesando Hills complex on June 20th, joining the growing ranks of high-end global food and drink creators, especially third-wave coffee roasters like Blue Bottle and Fuglen, or craft beer makers like BrewDog, who have opted to expand overseas with a first outpost in Tokyo.
The menu features all the Dominique Ansel Tokyo favorites like Cronuts (the Dominique Ansel-trademarked croissant and donut hybrid), Frozen S’More, and Cookie Shot, plus many Japan-exclusive items developed and inspired by local cuisine elements.
Dominique Ansel Tokyo is a standalone three-story affair, with two dining spaces and an upstairs kitchen. The ground floor offers take-out and eat-in, while the second floor is a restaurant with waiters and a separate menu.
The first floor interior is inspired by Paris and New York subway stations, with a seasonally changing photo diorama. The subway theme continues with custom art by Vahram Muratyan that shows a mashup of the two cities’ train systems. Observant visitors will spot that the “stations” are actually various chefs’ names.
Clearly, the Japanese obsession with lining up outside stores for hours, or even overnight in advance of major releases, also extends to Cronuts. Two men started camping in front of the Tokyo bakery 12 hours before the doors opened on Saturday morning.
There is also Paris Tokyo (“A twist on the traditional Paris Brest with matcha ganache and a soft passion fruit curd”), Monaka Cookie (“A fun texture twist with a crispy monaka shell and a moist matcha financier cookie”), Mr Roboto (“Our take on the melon pan filled with a caramel black truffle custard”), and Mont Blanc Wagashi (“Chestnut cream, meringue, and orange confit done in the style of a wagashi pairs perfectly with tea and is only offered in our private Japanese tea room”).
There are even yuzu- and vanilla-filled cream puffs stacked and shaped to look like Maneki Neko cat figures.