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Yesterday during Tokyo Designers Week designer Ronan Bouroullec and Japanese architect Kengo Kuma presented their collaboration for the East Japan Project which the latter started after the Fukushina disaster in 2011. The inspirational project aims to get the artisans of the region back on their feet by creating lifestyle products that are manufactured by the local craftsmen. One of those traditional objects combining aesthetics with craftsmanship are kokeshi dolls, which we’ve been collection for quite some years now. Inspired by the extraordinary dolls Ronan and his brother Erwan Bouroullec designed a series of kokeshi dolls which are exclusively produced for the East Japan Project. The Bouroullec brother’s interpretation moved away for the super enlarged head and has a more human shape, with its torso separated in two elements, connected by a hinge which allows them to bend at the hip area, resulting in a more modern, moveable, but nevertheless familiar kokeshi doll. Such an elegant interpretation of one of our favorite Japanese traditional objects. read more…

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We love elegant design which is boiled down to its core and the Square Wind Bell by the very talented Kouichi Okamoto of Kyouei Design inhabits everything of those elements. The designer, who first gained attention in the world of music at the end of last century and since stretched his spectrum of output significantly, created the minimum wind chime from metal and glass, utilizing the properties inherent in each of the resources used to produce sound. The Square Wind Bell is created out of two iron lower-outs covered in trivalent chrome plating, which are united to every single other by a basic slit in each and every corner, forming a mixed geometry that teeters on the edge of a consuming glass. As one plate catches the wind, the other acts as a excess weight, striking the transparent volume repeatedly and resounding with the action of the wind. Highly sophisticated and elegant. read more…

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From December to February, if one takes a trip to the countryside of the Japanese town of Tsukuba, known for its science industry, Siberian winds meet the moist air of the Pacific and innundate the peaks and valleys with snow. Temperatures drop far below zero, and rural inhabitants must plan carefully to survive the long, hard months of winter. These icy temperatures and the sentiment of finding ways in bearing the hard atmosphere, inspired to yet another stunning series by regular collaborator Ben Ingham and Rapha for The Road collection Autumn / Winter 2014 which was designed for riding in extreme condition like the countryside of Tsukuba. The images of Ingham translate the Japanese countryside to a highly grainy aesthetic, as if the winter-cold needed to be feelable directly through the photographs, and overall spoken resulting in one of the rawest series to date which we really like. read more…

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The latest by inspirational Lisbon-based publisher Pierre von Kleist editions brings us back to Japan. After releasing the beautiful ‘Japan Drug‘ by António Júlio Duarte in May now follows another tremendous grainy black and white photographic book by the name of ‘Tokyo Diaries’. In 2009 André Príncipe, the co-founder of Pierre von Kleist editions, and filmmaker Marco Martins travelled to Tokyo to shoot a film about elliptical narratives and the importance of the diaristic practice in Japanese photography. During one month and in a totally improvised way, the filmmakers shot hours of 16mm footage and thousands of photographs of their daily life as well as their encounters with photographers such as Nobuyoshi Araki, Daido Moriyama, Takuma Nakahira, Hiromix, Kohei Yushiyuki and Kajii Syoin. The film which was the result of this trip: ‘Traces of a Diary’ was subsequently shown in film festivals around the world and received the jury prize at Documenta Madrid. And now the amazing book which was created out of the 100 rolls of Tri-X 400 film which remained unused  brings the essence of the beautiful trip back to printed still images. We love the character which the images transcend, capturing a dynamic energy within a highly inspirational generation of Japanese photographers perfectly. read more…

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The Makinohara, Japan-based architecture firm mA-style finished the design of this extension for a young couple’s house next to the main family home in Yaizu last year, but we still find this one of the more elegant designs we have seen in a long time. The house that was extended is an one-storey Japanese-style house with an area of approximately 200 m², a very common house seen in rural areas. The house is large and has many spacious rooms where the whole family can gather and socialize, but the young couple wanted a new quiet space that would ensure them a private area. A simple extension would enable them to seclude, but the connection with the main house might get lost which they wanted to prevent. Therefore, by utilizing the functions for living in the main house, the extension is designed as a minimum living space pursuing distance without losing contact, very in line with the complexity of delicate Japanese social interaction and inherent serenity. Above all it’s a space of stunning beauty one sees rarely. read more…

The amazing Truck furniture store just outside Osaka, Japan on Bloesem

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We really like this series by the always inspiring Todd Selby in which he portrays the beautiful Tokyo studio of the visionary Japanese photographer and fashion designer Yuriko Takagi. In signature Selby-style every little detail that is worth seeing is highlighted in the recognizable colorful photographs of the light studio of Takagi. The Tokyo-based is best known for her studies of the human body and ethnic elements used in in fashion photography combines earthly Japanese serenity with folkloristic souvenirs from all her worldwide travels, from dolls and masks to a rather large collection of garments. And even her history as a fashion designer is still reflected by the Singer sewing machine which seems to not get a whole lot of action anymore though. Yet another highly inspiring photographic story by The Selby. read more…

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We really like this project by the Tokyo-based architect Fumihiko Sano, located in the Taito-Kut district of the Japanese capital, which was named En yu-An. The eye pleasing light space functions as the salon and showroom for Maruwakaya, a company which produces monozukuri, meaning craftsmanship or art of design and manufacturing, that links traditional crafts to Contemporary art. The central piece in the space is an eye-catching long narrow counter made from tremendous Japanese cedar, which is augmented through the appliance of lintels, sills, and pillars. The diverse arrangement of the lintels and the pillars in the room aims to make visitors unconsciously sense the variation of the space. Yet the structure does not affect the existing surfaces of the space, it is simply placed inside the room, without being fixated to the walls, floor and ceiling, giving the space a very unique and organic aesthetic and feel. read more…

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The latest work by Japanese architect Tsubasa Iwahashi is truly extraordinary. For the project named ‘Hut on the Corridor’ Iwahashi, who previously created the beautiful Folm Arts beauty salon in the Osaka prefecture, was asked to renovate the corridor of eleven office units on one floor of a building in Osaka’s Nishi-ku district. This resulted in a garden-inspired project, in which the architect and his team created a common area where employees can take a time out from their work. The centerpiece of the concept is a wooden hut in the middle of the space, which can be used as a meeting area or a quiet relaxation zone. The hut has only three walls with people stepping inside by walking around to its rear, it has no windows, but a large skylight which ensures enough enlightenment in the area without opening up the space for by-passers. There is a small peephole in one corner of the hut, revealing the feet of anyone walking by, giving the people in the hut total peace and privacy without being totally cut off. read more…

This set of beautiful and dark, lifeless photographs capture the future of Tsukiji Fish Market. Via Spoon & Tamago.

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Yet another amazing project by Yusuke Yeki. This time situated in Japan’s second largest city Osaka, the inspirational designer created a immaculate store for nail salon Kolmio+LIM. Completed in September 2013 as an expansion of the popular Less Is More (LIM) hair salon, Yeki incorporates elements inspired by the services and name: ‘kolmio’ means triangle in Finnish. The first element in this approach is the color palette: based directly on the tones of human skin and nails. Other design features are inspired by the layering process of painting nails: an opening in the impressive wooden zigzag wall; a pattern used regularly on nails, lets natural light into the main space, while groups of three stools, three mirrors and three beauty chairs are all direct references to the salon’s name. The beautiful space evokes a sentiment of relaxation through its overall serene, minimal aesthetic which fits a salon perfectly. read more…

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We’ve slowly been collecting Kokeshi dolls for some years now. From the moment we found the first doll at Tortoise General Store we have been fascinated and impressed by the craft that goes into the production of the dolls, which clearly shows. In this video the modern production process of the Kokeshi has beautifully been caught on camera by Sàneyuki Owada of Japanstore. However, the origin of the beautiful Kokeshi dolls lays in North-East Japan, where it was first produced as wooden toy for children during the closing chapter of the Edo period, which ended in 1868. These first dolls were produced by woodwork artisans, called Kiji-shi, who normally made bowls, trays and other tableware by using a lathe. They began to make small dolls in the winter to sell to visitors who came to bathe in the many hot springs near their villages, which was believed to be a cure for the demands of a strenuous agricultural lifestyle. read more…

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Yusuke Yeki designed this beautiful retail space named Nakagawa Masashichi Shoten-gai for a 300-year old traditional Japanese fabric producer’s store in the Tokyo’s midtown shopping complex. ‘Shoten-gai’ refers to a traditional shopping street, located within the centre of a (small) town, which one finds throughout Japan. However, the faces of these shopping areas have changed significantly over the years, with large drugstore chains and convenience stores replacing the local artisans. Inspired by the original shoten-gai and with the intention to recreate its charm Yeki designed a new type of market place; which is more suitable and competitive within modern life, but with a traditional character. read more…

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Tokyo-based studio Torafu Architects recently completed the Kyoto store for our favorite cosmetics label Aēsop. Once again it is of the highly inspirational quality we’ve become used to when it comes to Aēsop stores. Located in the central shopping district of Kawaramachi, the beautiful space consists of two levels; a retail and small lounge area on the ground level, and a gallery space on the upper floor intended for social interaction. The original building structure was key in the design by Torafu as they wanted to keep it as intact as possible. Creating a beautiful raw and industrial aesthetic, exposed concrete and irregular wall surfaces have been preserved and integrated into the overall design.

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This dream-house is positioned on Mt. Rokko, with commanding views overlooking Kobe, Japan. The ‘House in Rokko’ by Japanese architect Yo Shimada of Tato Architects as featured on Designboom.

Volume 8 of Kinfolk Magazine gives a glimpse of Japan through the Kinfolk lens, an ode to a country and culture we admire. This special Japan issue focuses on its traditions and fun things to do; delicious indigenous snacks; the harvest process behind green tea, wasabi and seaweed, along with interviews with some of the country’s finest makers and artisans who live and work in the country and abroad, with the usual focus of laid-back entertaining and great ideas for gatherings.

Get Kinfolk Magazine Volume Eight / Japan here.

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Last month was a crazy one. We traveled form Amsterdam to Tokyo, to Basel, to Lisbon for both business and pleasure. In the coming days we’ll share some of our experiences here. To start with Japan. Together with Menno and Rene – Tenue de Nîmes – we went to Japan to get some serious indigo and retail inspiration. Besides our amazing visit to Takeo Paper, we were invited to visit this indigo paradise of the legendary Bryan Whitehead. read more…

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While running around with our Tenue de Nîmes crew I was invited by Takeo Paper, to visit their head office and showroom in Tokyo. Takeo, a paper trading company founded more than a century ago, in 1899, brings the tradition of Japanese paper (wash) to a next level. Entering the high-white showroom you could easily thinking you arrived in a laboratory. Small cabinets filled with a rainbow of paper. More than 9000 kinds of paper, in every colour of the rainbow, from super light weight to massive cardboard, this place is a walhalla for everyone who loves paper, textures, tactility and luxurious materials. read more…

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It is believed that wasabi was first used where it was found, growing wild in Japan’s valleys of Mt. Heike, Mt. Mizuo, and Mt. Bahun. The locals gathered wild wasabi to use as a condiment with slices of raw yamame, and raw venison. In addition to use as a flavoring, the stems and leaves of wasabi were also pickled and eaten as a vegetable. At one point the wasabi was shown to Tokugawa Ieyasu, a Japanese warlord of the era, who liked it so much declaring it a treasure only to be grown in the Shizuoka area. read more…

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We really like the last year’s November opened Otsuka-Dofukuten store designed by Yusuke Seki. The store is located at the feet of the Yasaka Shrine which is a Shinto shrine in the Gion District of Kyoto, Japan. The beautifully designed store has as a goal to reintroduce the traditional Japanese kimono culture. The kimono is a cloth which traditionally had a varying range of prices and quality. Therefore the cloth was affordable within different layers of Japanese society and people wore kimonos in everyday life. Over the last decades however it became more and more common to only wear a kimono on special occasions which resulted in the industry focusing on expensive, high quality kimonos and the cheaper (quality) cloths became less and less available. read more…

Onitsuka Tiger is celebrating its 60th anniversary with the publication Made of Japan by the editors of Zoo Magazine. Made of Japan features more than 30 iconic personalities, including Chiharu Shiota, Naomi Yotsumoto, Yusuke Iseya, Hirofumi Kurino, Thomas Demand, and former star athletes Dave Cowens and Lasse Virén. The magazine will be distributed to exclusive read more…

‘Taking thematic and technical approaches from traditional Japanese painting and reviving them in the present day.’ That is the result of the beautiful paintings by Tenmyouya Hisashi. Thanks for sharing butdoesitfloat.