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187 posts tagged japan

The latest addition to the Archie McPhee Library is a must-have for any Crazy Cat Lady. Entitled Fashion Cats [Buy on Amazon], it was compiled by Japanese photographer Takako Iwasa, “Japan’s #1 Cat Tailor,” who used his own adorable cats, Prin and Koutaro, as kitty supermodels to document fashion trends for fabulous felines.

"Prin and Koutaro are two cats who don’t get out of bed for less than the best catnip and 10,000 American dollars. They aren’t just cute, they are extraordinarily cute and know how to make Haute Cature look as good as it should. Here they don the latest Japanese Spring, Summer, Fall, and Winter collections, featuring gorgeous, flowered paw bracelets, lace veils, tuxedo fronts, wool capes with matching caps, and much more.:

It’s 160 pages of nonstop kitty couture that’s guaranteed to brighten the gloomiest day.

[Images via Design Taxi and Design Faves]

The Japanese city of Nara is renown for its deer. Thanks to their legendary history, they’re regarded as heavenly animals, messengers of the gods according to Shinto belief, and guardians of both the city and Japan itself. A population of over 1000 remarkably tame Sika Deer reside in Nara Park, where they roam freely and visitors may feed them special biscuits, and every summer they do something strange and awesome. They leave the park and swarm the streets, lounging together on the sidewalks and sometimes right in the road, looking like they haven’t got a care in the world and the middle of the road is the perfect place to be.

YouTube user Blue Bells 9999 shot video of this marvelous phenomenon in 2013 and describes it as a regular occurrence in late July:

"…with the deer strolling out of the park to “enjoy the coolness of the street.” Given that the concrete sidewalk and asphalt road surface would ordinarily retain heat during the summertime, we’re guessing that the surrounding cityscape and topography creates either a cooling wind tunnel or an inviting patch of shade.

Although it might seem like an alarming event, Nara residents seem very used to the presence of the deer. It’s been happening for so long now that the city posts warning signs to drivers about deer crossing the road. No one honks at them or suddenly swerves to avoid them. We’d be so amazed by the sight of them that people would be honking at us for blocking traffic ourselves.

[via RocketNews24]

Summer is now in full swing which means it’s Tanbo season in Japan. Last year we shared some amazing examples of Tanbo art (田んぼアート) or “rice paddy art”, created by Japanese farmers (aided by lots of volunteers) who work by hand to plant different strains of rice in order to transform their rice paddies into colossal living canvases. No artificial coloring methods are used to create these awesome scenes. Each color is simply a different type of rice.

"While planting, different areas of the rice paddy are roped off, so people know which type of rice to put where—kind of like painting by numbers.

Rice is planted in the spring, and then harvested in the fall. When it gets close to harvest, the color changes to a beautiful hue called “koganeiro” (黄金色), which is often translated as “golden” or “honey-colored”. This means the art changes as the seasons change.”

The rice paddies pictured at the top of this post depict a celestial maiden from the Japanese legend of Hagoromo beside Mount Fuji, which was recently recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Visit Kotaku for additional images.

We aren’t sure how it happened, but Godzilla appears to have gotten stuck while walking through the gardens of Tokyo Midtown. He’s only visible from about the waist up (Godzilla has a waist, right?) along with a portion of his tail. But at 6.6 meters (~22 feet) tall, he’s still an awesome sight to behold, even more so at night when the lights and smoke machines turn on. And then the spikes on back light up as well, as though a surge of electricity is traveling down them. So awesome!

This statue was built to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the original Godzilla as well as the Japanese release of the new Godzilla film. The King of the Monsters will be stuck in this Tokyo Midtown park until the end of August. So if you’ve ever wanted to give him a hug, now’s your chance.

Photos 1-3 by Héctor García, 4-6 by Zan Woo.

[via Kuriositas and Kotaku]

Today the Department of Awesome Natural Wonders takes us to Ashikaga Flower Park in Tochigi, Japan, home to the country’s largest great wisteria. This colossal blooming vine is 144 years old and covers an area measuring 1,990 square meters (half an acre). Its numerous heavy branches are held up by a vast network of steel supports. In the spring countless racemes of pink and purple flowers bloom to form a vibrant canopy that practically brushes the heads of the park’s many visitors. If you’re planning a visit, the best time to behold this awesomely enchanting sight is from late April to mid May.

Photos by y-fu, tungnam.com.hk, Makoto Yoneda, P-Zilla, takeoh, Taka Ochiai, and Kazumi Ishikawa respectively.

Visit Demilked for additional images.

Today the Department of Awesome (Grand)parenting salutes 59-year-old grandpa Hidebochi. For 32 years he’s run an udon shop in Mihama, Mie Prefecture, Japan. He’s also been a “weekend carpenter” for 52 years. Those carpentry skills came in very handy when he learned that his two young granddaughters, Ringo (6 years old) and Mei (3 years old), would be moving from Vancouver, Canada to live with him above the udon shop. Just like the little girls in My Neighbor Totoro, Ringo and Mei were moving far away from their first home to a new home out in the country.

In effort to welcome them and prevent them from feeling homesick, Hidebochi decided to recreate the rain scene from My Neighbor Totoro right outside their new home. He constructed a 10-foot-tall Totoro using materials such as wood, water pipes and rugs. Hidebochi’s Totoro stands at the Catbus stop with an umbrella in hand and a welcoming grin on his face.

"A concrete block keeps Totoro secure in front of the Teuchi Udon Ōishi-ka shop. A camera in Totoro’s nose lets Hidebochi’s family know when visitors come to meet the iconic character. Totoro can play music from the film when people visit him.

Totoro waits next to the Kōshiyama Eki Mae catbus stop near the Kōshiyama train station in Mihama. Visitors who want to ride the catbus may be out of luck because it only comes at night from about midnight to 5:00 a.m., according to Hidebochi’s catbus stop sign.”

What’s more, Hidebochi positioned Totoro so that his granddaughters can always see him, smiling up at them, from their room above the udon shop.

Click here to watch a brief video in which Hidebochi shows how he created this awesome Totoro. You’ll also get to see Ringo and Mei help recreate the rain scene. Judging by the smiles on their faces, it seems they’re pretty pleased with their new home and, of course, their awesome grandpa.

Visit RocketNews24 for additional photos and info about Hidebochi’s heartwarming homemade Totoro.

Behold the delicate beauty and cleverness of this interactive Japanese children’s book by Megumi Kajiwara and Tathuhiko Nijima. Entitled Motion Silhouette, the handmade book features white pop-up silhouettes between each page. Shining a light on either side of the silhouettes cast moving shadows onto the pages that help tell the story. Ghosts appear before frightened a sleeper, a train travels down tracks and across the face of the moon, someone makes a wish on a dandelion head and then blows out birthday candles, butterflies flutter and what appears as a tree on one page turns into lightning flashing above a cityscape on another.

Click here to watch a brief video that offers a closer look at this enchanting book.

Motion Silhouette is a sequel to a previous book by Kajiwara and Nijima entitled Silhouette. These beautiful works of interactive art are handmade to order.Click here for order inquiries.

[via Colossal]

World travelers Jürgen and Mike of For 91 Days recently visited an amazing temple in Setagaya, Tokyo. The Gōtoku-ji temple contains an awesome shrine dedicated to the Maneki-neko, or “Beckoning Cat”, a symbol of good luck and one of Japan’s most iconic images.

Setagaya is the setting of one of the Maneki-neko’s origin stories: It was there long ago that a wealthy feudal lord took shelter during a storm under a tree near Gōtoku-ji temple. “The lord saw the temple priest’s cat beckoning to him and followed; a moment later the tree was struck by lightning. The wealthy man became friends with the poor priest and the temple became prosperous. When the cat died, supposedly the first maneki-neko was made in his honor.”

"Worshipers at the Gotoku-ji often bring a Maneki Neko statue to leave for good luck. The result is a little surreal, with hundreds of cats sitting along a set of shelves outside a shrine. Except in size, they’re are all identical, exactly the same model with the same paw raised and the same beatific expression on their face.

The cat shrine is just one tiny section of the expansive Gotoku-ji temple, which, thanks to its location on the outskirts of the city, is usually very quiet.”

As you can see from these photos, there really are countless ceramic Maneki-neko figurines all over the place. To get an even better sense of just how densely populate the shrine is, check out Jürgen and Mike’s brief video panning across the grounds. There are also many more photos to be seen over at Tokyo For 91 Days.

[via Neatorama and Tokyo For 91 Days]

We thought these creepy yet strangely serene ceramic space and biker babies might help make your day a little more awesome. They’re the work of Japanese artist Shigeki Hayashi, who uses traditional ceramic techniques to create decidedly futuristic pieces inspired by science fiction and Manga.

"The somewhat unusual baby motif, as gallerist Aki Nakanishi revealed in an essay about the artist, stems from the 900 AD story “Taketori-Monogatari,” where a woodcutter discovers a baby from the moon in a bamboo tree — perhaps one of the first science fiction narratives in existence.

Hayashi’s works at times resemble dolls or action figures, and intentionally so. The artist toys with the idea of mass production, giving his work a polished, refined look that makes it appear machine-made, though each piece is sculpted from clay using Japanese ceramic techniques that date back to the 13th century.”

Head over to Shigeki Hayashi’s website to check out more of his fascinating ceramic creations.

[via Hi-Fructose and Weezbo]

We aren’t sure if this Giant Isopod iPhone case would deter phone theft or actually encourage it, but either way it’s creepily awesome. You could chat on your isopod phone while snacking on a batch of adorably creepy isopod sausages or actual giant isopods.

Created exclusively for sale in Japan, these limited edition communication crustaceans come in both silver and gold versions, which sell for $80 and $120 respectively. Only 500 were produced, so we’d better buy plane tickets soon if we hope to snag one for ourselves.

It probably won’t fit in your pocket. But if your phone looked this fantastically freaky, would you ever want to put it away? Neither would we.

[via Geekologie]