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Tokyo Designers Week 2013

October 28th, 2013 by

This year’s Tokyo Designers Week’s main event at Meiji Jingu-Gaien has had a bit of a makeover. As “Creative Fes,” it now includes a music venue, various food stalls and a market of hand-crafted goods. But, of course, the main focus remains design, and the event’s new Asia Awards, which includes categories for design schools, young creators and professionals, pulled in plenty of entries.

From architectural constructions to jewelry, we took a look at what the students and pros had to offer, as well as perused our old favorite — Designboom Mart. This year, we also found an extra favorite spot: the TAPAS Spanish Design for Food exhibition, which not only made us hungry for more, but proved that design can have a great sense of humor.

Flip a skirt a month in 2014

October 26th, 2013 by

The original run of Kari Kato‘s “Skirt Flipping Calendar” did so well that it’s back this year in two colors:

two colors

Gray is new for 2014.

While the thrill of most novelty calendars is spurred by anticipating what the next month’s image will be, in this case, every month looks more or less the same…

jan

Weekends and holidays are color-coded.

…which is not to say there’s no thrill here, because when all 12 skirts are flipped — well, you’ll have waited for all year, so let’s not spoil it. If you want to see how 2013 was rung in, check here.

The new sticky notes seem even more fun.

Write and fold.

Write and fold.

Gigazine‘s example cracked me up, but really, I can’t think of a place to stick these that wouldn’t be entertaining.

niku

“There’s nikujaga in the freezer. Zap it and eat up! – Mom” Aww.

The calendars run ¥2,100, while the sticky notes are ¥680 for 20. They’re available through Village Vanguard or directly on Kaori Kato’s site.

It’s amazing how design can take something that would be totally inappropriate in real life and make it not only whimsically cute, but functional. Anyone planning on watching the days go by with one of these pin-up girls?

Isetan Mitsukoshi Design Week

October 24th, 2013 by

Today, the Isetan Department in Shinjuku launches its Designers Week product fair “Hand Made By For Me,” featuring numerous lifestyle brands across various floors of the Isetan main building. The fair runs till Nov. 5 and with all items also available to purchase, it could be a good opportunity to get a little Christmas shopping in early.

We took a sneak peak last night and selected some of our favorite Japanese designs.

J-blip: Pipo-kun’s new song and dance

October 22nd, 2013 by

The Pepo-kun song on the website of the metropolitan police

Pepo-kun, as seen on the metro police’s website

Japanese netizens are apparently all in a lather regarding the question of whether virtual pop star Hatsune Miku is the new voice of police mascot Pipo-kun. The “Pipo-kun Song” video, made to celebrate the fact that the Tokyo Metropolitan Police’s counter crime initiative Twitter account now has more than 60,000 followers, is a collaboration between a synthetic voice and the police headquarters’ orchestra.

However, the consensus on the web seems to be that there is no mistaking that Pipo has Hatsune’s distinctive saccharine sweet voice. When asked by J-Cast if this was a correct assumption, the police replied, “The identity of the singer hasn’t been announced.” One wonders why they’re being so reticent as Hatsune’s “dulcet” tones are now commonplace, having been widely used in the many commercials and TV show theme songs.

Pulsations (10.15.13)

October 15th, 2013 by

Here’s a new batch of Pulsations, links to fresh stories and visuals about Japan, shout-outs to fellow bloggers and highly clickable stuff that we think you might enjoy.

In no particular order . . .

The Mystery of Japanese “Sauce” (from Just Hungry): You may know the sweet brown concoction as “tonkatsu sauce” but it’s not only for drizzling on breaded pork. What is it, anyways?

Asleep at the wheel (from Ikimasho!): A short-term foray into taxi driving turned into 15 years.

Feel better fast: Eight home remedies from the little old ladies of Japan (from RocketNews24): Is that a cold coming on? Learn how to say no to germs in the language of Japanese DIY medicine.

Looking for Scary Faces (from Japanese Streets): A regular club event called Heavy Pop had an early Halloween party. Check out this great photo collection!

Koloro wagon teaches little kids to be organized (from Spoon & Tamago): It’s a wagon! No, a shelving unit! No, a bunch of baskets! Actually, the new “storable furniture” designed by Torafu Architects is all of the above.

Exploring the GSC Offices with wooser (Part 1) (from Kahotan’s Blog): If you ever wanted to check out the inside of hobby figure maker Good Smile Company’s office, here is your chance, with a cute character guide.

The Successor to Duck-Lips is Sparrow Face (from Kotaku): Will just smiling for the camera ever be good enough again?

Video Pulse

Design Taxi tipped us off to this cool navigation app that is more fun than a map. Can’t find the Sunshine Aquarium? Just follow the penguins!

Psssst! Wanna bottle of fresh air?

October 10th, 2013 by

Frisk is taking the phrase “like a breath of fresh air” quite seriously — or rather not seriously at all.

The breath-mints brand’s latest online campaign involves a lottery to win a grand prize of seven bottles filled to their brim with exotic air (or, if you’re a cynic, seven completely empty bottles).

The Frisk Select World Fresh Air Collection campaign is promoting the introduction of the brand’s newest flavor — Fresh Herb Mint — as well as the return of Frisk Spearmint. And, doing what must be one of the most enviable jobs, one Frisk employee is being sent to seven scenic destinations across the world, just to pump air into glass bottles.

So far he’s been to Waipio Valley in Hawaii to collect air of a “mysterious atmosphere.” You can watch a rather exhilarating video of the process.

Yes, who wouldn’t want this man’s job? He’s being jetted around the world to simply don a lab coat and white gloves, and then stick an air-compressor tube into a bottle for 15 seconds.

His next destination will be Canada’s glacial Moraine Lake for some “romantic” air, which will be followed by South America’s Iguazu falls (healing air), England’s Oxford (intelligent air), Matterhorn of the Northern Alps (freezing air), Tanzania’s Kilimanjaro (wild air) and finally Tasmania (beautiful air).

To prove that the air really has been obtained and make anyone with a desk job feel completely inferior, sad and jealous, a video of the air-collection at each destination will be uploaded onto the campaign site.

The Frisk Select World Fresh Air Collection is being described as a gift for people suffering the daily stress of modern life. Quite how it will help, though, is unclear. Perhaps it’s just a case of positive thinking: The bottles are NOT empty, they are full!

Five sets of bottles can be won, as well as 50 original Frisk gift boxes. To enter the lottery, you just fill out the form here. And do it before 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 31, when the opportunity to win will vanish . . . into thin air.

Rent a dude for ¥1,000: an interview with Takanobu Nishimoto of Ossan Rental

September 18th, 2013 by

“In Japan, old guys get a fair amount of ridicule, basically bad-mouthing. That had been kinda ticking me off, so I was thinking if we could create a bunch of good — not looks-wise, but lifestyle-wise — fun, older guys, then maybe the value of older guys would be seen.”

Meet professional ossan Takanobu Nishimoto

Meet professional ossan Takanobu Nishimoto (Emily Balistrieri photo)

That seed grew in the mind of Takanobu Nishimoto, a 46-year-old jack of all trades, and blossomed into what is now known as Ossan Rental (“Old Guy Rental”). Thanks to the unusual brand name, the experiment attracted customers early on, and later, the attention of social media and web watchers on sites like NariNari and Kotaku.

So who rents themselves out for ¥1,000 an hour? How did Nishimoto find time between his college and vocational school lectures, fashion consulting, modeling and everything else? As I learned more about him, my curiosity was definitely piqued. And part of me wanted to confirm that he is simply a guy doing something interesting . . . and not a creep, as some people might assume.

I requested an interview and got an enthusiastic “yes.” When I asked him to choose a cafe where we could relax and chat, as if I were renting him, he suggested one on a fifth floor overlooking Shibuya.

His introduction was as casual as his button-down shirt and jeans. “Hello, I’m Ossan Rental,” he says, half laughing, perhaps realizing how goofy that sounded. We order tea and coffee and get right into it.

“Outside of work there’s a distance between older guys and young people.  I think it’d be cool if we could connect more. I’m 46. There aren’t many opportunities to talk to people in their 20s in our private lives. I thought it would be neat if I could set up opportunities to make that happen.

“I would go to Tsutaya or some rental shop and think, ‘If older guys were lined up on the shelves, that would be something.’ But how would you order them? Well, putting them in a cart would work. And then you could return them by mail. Well, ‘returning by mail’ would be parting ways at the mailbox, but . . . (laughs).”

This past February he turned his crazy Ossan Rental vision into a reality.

Continue reading about ossan rental →

Pulsations (09.11.13)

September 11th, 2013 by

Here’s a new batch of Pulsations, links to fresh stories and visuals about Japan, shout-outs to fellow bloggers and highly clickable stuff that we think you might enjoy.

In no particular order…

Japan’s Real-Life Kick-Ass Is Very Helpful (from Kotaku): A friendly guy helps locals carry strollers or luggage at a station where this is no elevator or escalator. Oh, and he’s dressed as a Power Ranger.

An ‘Origami’ Chair Folded From A Single Wooden Strip (from DesignTaxi): This chair concept was inspired by Japanese paper-folding techniques.

The Notorious MSG’s Unlikely Formula For Success (from Buzzfeed): Get your facts straight on that delicious taste, umami, including how University of Tokyo chemist Kikunae Ikeda discovered the man-made version.

Kiritoshi House by Sugawaradaisuke (from Dezeen): Looking at these pictures, it feels like this must be something much more than a two-bedroom house in Chiba, and yet . . . it’s a two-bedroom house in Chiba.

Famed Photog Yasumasa Yonehara Wants Kids to Tack Back Fashion for Themselves (from MTV81): “The culture informs their choice of clothing – but these outfits aren’t exactly practical. I want cosplay kids to stay true to themselves after removing their outfits.”

The old-timey treat that’s back in style thanks to Hayao Miyazaki (from RocketNews24): Everyone’s curious to try the “Siberia” cake featured in “The Wind Rises” and luckily, you can!

Control Bear Store Tokyo — Beyond Character Goods (from Tokyo Telephone): As mentioned in this month’s On Fashion in The Japan Times, Control Bear now has its own shop in Harajuku. This post goes in-depth!

Video pulse

“The Light Shooter” is a first-person shooter with a peripheral you’ve never seen before — a real, stringed bow, no arrows necessary.

 

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