Found Muji Aoyama showcases Engimono good luck charms from all over Japan

Written by: William on November 27, 2014 at 8:33 am | In CULTURE, PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

Engimono are good luck charms and talismans, and come in all shapes and sizes, from Daruma dolls to Maneki-neko, the beckoning cat. They are particularly associated with the Eto (Chinese zodiac) and so often are given in the form of small ornaments to celebrate the New Year.

found muji aoyama engimono japanese good luck charms talismans crafts regional

Perfect for finding a gift for the holidays, examples of engimono will be on sale at the special Found Muji Aoyama store from December 5th to December 25th. Found Muji is the Muji brand for showcasing items not made directly by the famously minimalist retailer but nonetheless fit into its philosophy. Engimono talismans, being small and simple, are a good match.

found muji aoyama engimono japanese good luck charms talismans crafts regional

found muji aoyama engimono japanese good luck charms talismans crafts regional miharu-goma horse toy fukushima

Found Muji will feature charms from all over Japan, from Miharu-goma wooden horses from Fukushima, dolls from Chiba and Sewa stick figures from Hokkaido. All are made by local regional crafts workers and with varying materials.

found muji aoyama engimono japanese good luck charms talismans crafts regional sewa doll chiba

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Shiseido Hanatsubaki, Geppo and Graph magazine archives document rich history of Japanese cosmetic advertising and graphic design

Written by: William on November 25, 2014 at 11:04 am | In CULTURE | No Comments

Shiseido’s Hanatsubaki digital archive is a fascinating glimpse back into Japan’s cosmetics advertising past.

Drawing on the graphic design and ads featured over the years in Hanatsubaki, Shiseido’s consumer magazine founded in 1937, and its previous publications Shiseido Geppo (started in 1924) and Shiseido Graph (1933), the archive is a veritable treasure trove.

Shiseido has just added some new Shiseido Geppo (Shiseido Monthly) images from the December 1930 issue, giving us an excuse to indulge in selections from its previous archives. The changing style of the design obviously reflects the progress of both the social and publishing scene.

Shiseido Geppo, 1924

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

Shiseido Geppo, July 1930

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

Shiseido Geppo, December 1930

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

Shiseido Graph, June 1935

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

Shiseido Graph, 1936 Issue 31

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

Shiseido Graph, 1937 Issue 45

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

Shiseido Graph, 1937 Issue 49

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar 1950s 1960s 1940s 1930s

Shiseido Hanatsubaki, January 1940

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

Shiseido Hanatsubaki, March 1952

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar 1950's 1960's 1940's 1930s

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar 1950's 1960's 1940's 1930s

Shiseido Hanatsubaki, July 1953

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar 1950's 1960's 1940's 1930s

Shiseido Hanatsubaki, April 1960

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar 1950s 1960s 1940s 1930s

Shiseido Hanatsubaki, June 1962

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

Hanatsubaki, Shiseido’s “corporate culture magazine”, still continues today. Its name is derived from the Japanese camellia flower and which of course Shiseido has also created a whole line of Tsubaki hair products.

See more images at the Shiseido Hanatsubaki digital archive.

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Posters released for live-action film version of Attack on Titan

Written by: William on November 21, 2014 at 10:50 am | In CULTURE | No Comments

The first posters for the upcoming live-action adaptation of Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin) have been released, showing the cast in costume as their respective characters.

Regardless of your taste in manga or anime, the posters are pretty awesome just in terms of graphic design.

It also gives fans of the Hajime Isayama series a chance to see how the cast of the upcoming big screen version measure up to the characters as depicted in their previous animated or comic-book incarnations. Oh, and the weaponry and hardware also get a very strong emphasis.

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

The all-star cast includes Hiroki Hasegawa, Haruma Miura, model Kiko Mizuhara, idols Nanami Sakuraba and Ayame Misaki, Jun Kunimura, and Satomi Ishihara.

Kotaku did a nice comparison of the anime, manga and film versions of each main character.

Attack on Titan has become a commerical phenomenon in recent years and this majoro film adaptation is the icing on the cake. Filming on location at Gunkanjima, it will be released in Japan in summer 2015.

If you can’t wait, you can always stage your own mini Attack on Titan battle scenes on your desk with the Tsumikore EVO! Attack on Titan Mania.

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ALMA Music Box telescope captures radio waves from a dying star, turns them into music

Written by: William on November 19, 2014 at 9:00 am | In CULTURE, LIFESTYLE | No Comments

What would a melody from a dying star sound like?

ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) is a state-of-the-art radio telescope developed and operated by 20 countries and territories across Asia, Europa and America.

alma music box telescope radio waves dying star 21 21 design sight

Connecting 66 parabola antennas deployed in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, ALMA works as a giant radio telescope with a diameter comparable to the size of the JR Yamanote Line. It detects faint radio waves emanated by distant celestial objects to study the origin and evolution of galaxies, stars, and planets. Obtaining a clue to the origin of life is another goal of ALMA.

In 2011, ALMA observed radio waves from a dying star R Sculptoris. Made in collaboration with the Tokyo and New York-based agency PARTY, the resulting ALMA Music Box utilized this data, translating the 70 different radio images onto 70 musical discs, one for each frequency. In other words, the music for this music box is supplied by a red giant star 1,5000 light years away, a melody from a soon-to-be supernova.

As the makers told Wired:

As the disc spins around the player, little teeth pluck the holes and emit a twinkling sound. It sounds sweet, like a lullaby coming from the mobile above a baby’s crib. But there’s a sadness to it, too, perhaps because we know the star is in the process of dying out forever. As Masashi Kawamura, co-founder of PARTY, puts it: “It’s made to sound like a requiem for the star in a way.”

alma music box telescope radio waves dying star 21 21 design sight

ALMA Music Box is a new kind of visualization project to try to find a way to make the uses of the ALMA telecope more accessible to non-astrophysicists. It is now on display at 21 21 Design Sight’s “The Fab Mind” exhibition until February 1st.

alma music box telescope radio waves dying star 21 21 design sight

alma music box telescope radio waves dying star 21 21 design sight

Impenetrable science projects in Japan often come up with very sophisticated ways to “advertise” their achievements to the public. NIMS (National Institute for Material Science), for example, has made a great series of videos called “The Power of Materials”.

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Design your own Attack on Titan character with Titan Montage app

Written by: William on November 17, 2014 at 8:54 am | In CULTURE | No Comments

It’s sold 40 million comic books and counting. The live-action film adaptation is coming to a big screen near you soon. And now you can design your own Attack on Titan character and have it eat people. The “Titan Montage” app lets you mutate a face to create an original titan, and then places it into scenes from the anime so you can see your monster run amok trying to devour victims.

kyojin montage attack on titan app portrait creation character design customize

The app has been launched as a promo for an Attack on Titan exhibition about to kick off in Ueno in Tokyo. You can go to the special website and design a portrait in the distinctive Attack on Titan style, customizing all the parts of the face from the teeth to the hair, eyebrows, nose, mouth and facial structure.

kyojin montage attack on titan app portrait creation character design customize

Your titan character is then inserted into the world of the manga. Your creation is first placed into an Attack on Titan pose against a randomly selected background image from the comic and anime series. Needless to say the titan is not looking to make friends with the smaller humans. There is also an option to have the site generate an anime scene with your titan racing around the landscape looking for people to gobble up.

kyojin montage attack on titan app portrait creation character design customize

kyojin montage attack on titan app portrait creation character design customize

kyojin montage attack on titan app portrait creation character design customize

This is then dispatched into the digital nether of Facebook and Twitter, populating Japanese social media with caricature crowd-sourced titans!

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Tokyo Designers Week 2014 Photo Report

Written by: Japan Trends on November 6, 2014 at 2:18 pm | In CULTURE, PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

Japan’s biggest design showcase Tokyo Designers Week (TDW) landed again for the year in the Gaienmae Aoyama area.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos

We went along to check out the exhibits. Here are our highlights.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos

tokyo designers week 2014 photos chintai asami kiyokawa

Real estate company Chintai are a regular face at TDW. Here they created a “Tokyo Merry-Go-Round” with artist Asami Kiyokawa.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos clappy pachi pachi

At the Robot Exhibition we liked this “clapping robot”, a kind of large version of the Pachi Pachi Clappy. Maywa Denki also participated in this part of TDW, showing off their latest instrument toy, Mr Knocky.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos noriko yamaguchi keitai girl suit

This was more mysterious. Artist and digital sculptor Noriko Yamaguchi created the “Keitai Girl Suit Chi”, whose entire body is covered in cellphone (keitai) keypads. It was a contemplation on how touch is still important to communication.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos asuna android a-lab uncanny valley receptionist

Here we entered the Uncanny Valley. The android Asuna was a “receptionist” created by A-Lab.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos toyo ink co shintaro kago manga stickers

tokyo designers week 2014 photos shintaro kago manga stickers

This booth was very popular, a manga sticker world presented by Toyo Ink and manga-ka Shintaro Kago.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos kengo kuma dnp tree metal

DNP and Kengo Kuma teamed up with technology that allows you to print directly onto a tree, fusing the texture of metal with wood and promising a “new materiality”.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos tanjo no katachi nihon university

The outdoor schools section featured this “Tanjo no Katachi” by Nihon University, a primitive representation of form itself.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos sebastian masuda container

Staying outside, these kids seemed to love this container installation designed by Sebastian Masuda (an art director for Kyary Pamyu Pamyu).

tokyo designers week 2014 photos hokusai exhibition

It wasn’t all “new” stuff, though. A special pavilion was devoted to the work of Edo-era ukiyoe print artist Hokusai.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos hokusai digital interaction

Here the Hokusai prints came into digital life. Using a special interactive app, holding up your phone brought the flat images into colorful life on your mobile screen.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos shiori yano mothers mountain

Shiori Yano’s “MOTHERS MOUNTAIN” bottled up motifs of street culture.

tokyo designers week 2014 photos sato sugamoto fashion non-verbal communication

Finally, Sato Sugamoto’s “Non-Verbal Communication” shows two “hats of thought” of two people meeting and trying to communicate.

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Halloween costumes take over Shibuya: Crowds go cosplay wild for October 31st

Written by: William on November 1, 2014 at 3:19 pm | In CULTURE | No Comments

If you passed through Shibuya yesterday evening or night you cannot have failed to notice that it was Halloween. A bustling and manifold place at any time of the year, on October 31st it burst into even more colorful life with a motley bunch of locals (Japanese and foreign) taking to the streets wearing an impressive variety of costumes.

Japan is of course the land of cosplay, so importing Halloween culture makes perfect sense and teenagers in particular seemed to rise to the occasion.

From Jesus (on a pagan festival?!) to Kaonashi, Sento-kun and even Sailor Moon, the inspirations went beyond the usual Halloween motifs to draw on Japanese anime and more.

The reliable folk from Kai-You were out and about in the streets of Shibuya snapping this fun gallery of images.

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014 sailor moon

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014 matsuri omikoshi shrine portable

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014 omikoshi shrine matsuri

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014 santa where's wally waldo

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014 girls in police uniforms

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014 jesus sento-kun

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014 mario luigi

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014 tenga

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014

halloween costume cosplay shibuya tokyo october 31st 2014

Images: Kai-You

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Iron Maid Cafe: Akihabara maid cafe now irons shirts for customers

Written by: William on November 1, 2014 at 9:05 am | In CULTURE | No Comments

Maid cafes in Akihabara have almost become a cliche of themselves, catering for the curious tourist as much as the genuine enthusiast. But cosplay restaurant subculture apparently still has some tricks up its sleeve.

Take the Iron Maid Cafe — we had to be careful not to write “Iron Maiden Cafe”! — which opens as a temporary pop-up in the Maid Kissa Tougenkyou from November 1st.

iron maid cafe akihabara ironing service tougenkyou original stitch

Iron Maid Cafe is nothing to do with a certain British heavy metal band or the notorious torture device. Instead it features maids who will iron your shirts for you, a sort of laundry service cum maid cafe.

iron maid cafe akihabara ironing service tougenkyou original stitch

The menu includes the usual drinks and snacks, plus you can even get measured up for a tailored shirt by a maid.

iron maid cafe akihabara ironing service tougenkyou original stitch

The pop-up is a promo for Original Stitch, the American online made-to-measure tailor clothing service run in Japan by insprout.

Ahead of the official opening, some lucky people tried out the ironing service at Iron Maid Cafe, though we’re pretty sure that regular patrons will have to remove their shirts first before the ironing can begin.

iron maid cafe akihabara ironing service tougenkyou original stitch

Having a maid of your choice iron your shirt for you will cost ¥800 (under $8), while getting a measurement from a maid as well as a handwritten message will set you back ¥1,000 (about $10). It seems you can’t sit there and watching the maids do your ironing, though. The shirts are ironed and returned to you in 3-5 days.

iron maid cafe akihabara ironing service tougenkyou original stitch

The Iron Maid Cafe is open November 1st to November 16th at Tougenkyou.

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Marco releases first photography book, “Spring Pedals by lovely hickey”

Written by: William on October 30, 2014 at 10:00 am | In CULTURE | No Comments

Photographer Marco’s first photography book “Spring Pedals by lovely hickey” will be released by Futabasha on November 7th. Featuring mostly portraits previously showcased by Marco on the website JADICT, it features young models such as Nana Komatsu and Mona Matsuoka.

Marco is a “disciple” of Mika Ninagawa, and that photographer’s influence is obvious: female models, lots of flower visuals, soft aesthetic, and so on.

marco spring pedals by lovely hickey photography

marco spring pedals by lovely hickey photography

marco spring pedals by lovely hickey photography

Some might find the emphasis almost exclusively on girls in their late teens slightly unsettling but this kind of photography is popular with a certain market of female consumers.

Marco started working for Ninagawa in 2003 and then kicked off his own career as a photographer in 2008. He mainly works in advertising and fashion catalogs.

marco spring pedals by lovely hickey photography

marco spring pedals by lovely hickey photography

marco spring pedals by lovely hickey photography

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