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182 posts tagged japan

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]

There’s no question that a stack of fresh pancakes is awesome, but what about one giant fluffy pancake? Today we learned mixing a batch of pancake batter in the bowl of a rice cooker and then cooking it, just like you would when making a batch of rice, creates one great big floofy pancake that instantly reminds us of Totoro’s belly.

What’s more, just like regular pancakes, you can add all sorts of things to the batter, such as cocoa powder or pieces of fruit and chocolate, to further enhance your adorably plump tototorcake.

Head over to RocketNews24 for complete instructions as well as some helpful tips and suggestions.

This awesome video was created by some Japanese students making the most of their after school classroom cleaning duties by turning them into an opportunity for serious shenanigans. Uploaded by YouTuber Daiki Ikeda and entitled “Blackboard War II”, the stop motion animated video depicts an epic battle between one student trying to clean the blackboard and another determined to draw on it.

Their fantastic fight takes place in both the third and second dimensions as they move from battling with chalk drawings to actually becoming drawings themselves. We don’t want to spoil any more of the fun, so you’ll have to watch the video to see how their creative conflict unfolds.

[via RocketNews24]

Behold the awesomeness that is Bandai’s new “Samurai Taisho Darth Vader” action figure. Designed by Takayuki Takeya, this impressive figure was recently unveiled at the International Tokyo Toy Show 2014. Standing 7.8 inches tall, the design seamlessly “fuses the aesthetics of feudal Japan and imperial galaxy far, far away.” Look closely and you’ll noticed that Vader’s samurai armor features the emblem of the Galactic Empire in place of a Japanese family crest or kamon.

Also known as “Movie Realization Samurai General Darth Vader,” this fantastic action figure is set to be released in Japan during winter 2014. All of our fingers and toes are crossed in hope that it’ll be released worldwide later on.

[via Kotaku and RocketNews24]

How good is your posture? In Japan sitting with a hunched back is known as neko-ze, which translates to mean ‘cat’s back.’ Odds are good that many of us are sporting neko-ze right now as we sit in front of our computers. Poor posture is bad for our backs and can lead to other health issues.

That’s why Japanese toymaker Bandai is putting out this awesome set of eight hunchbacked cat figures, in hopes that slouching office workers will place them beside their computers as a friendly reminder to sit up straight. Say hello to weirdly cute toy kitties and goodbye to neko-ze.

As further encouragement, the series of capsule toys will include four secret cats who sit upright with perfect posture. Right now Bandai is only sharing their silhouettes, so we’ll have to wait until the June 24, 2014 release date to get a better look at them.

[via RocketNews24]

We’ve featured many different kinds and sizes of origami over the years, but this may be the first time we’ve ever seen origami that’s not only made from delicate facial tissues, but also animated. Artist Yuki Ariga created this utterly delightful stop motion animated short for Japanese paper manufacturer Nepia. It features a series of lively origami animals interacting with the artist’s gentle hands.

Click here for a behind-the-scenes video.

[via Colossal]