If you’ve ever wanted to see villages and merchant markets from your favourite role-playing games come to life, then we’ve got quite the collection for you. These are the amazing three-dimensional artworks of Takanori Aiba, a Japanese artist who also designed Ninja Akasaka, the famous ninja restaurant in Tokyo and the 1958-themed Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum.
Aiba is now drawing on his experience in architecture and combining it with his origins as a maze illustrator to produce stunning worlds within the tiny branches of bonsai trees and out of the crevices of unique rocks. From Ghibli-style seaside towns to a bustling hotel built inside the body of the Michelin man, these elaborate designs will simply take your breath away.
Takanori Aiba began his career in 1978 as a freelance maze illustrator, with his maze designs featured in Japanese fashion magazine POPEYE for ten years. In 1981, he turned his attention to designing art spaces, resulting in the hidden doors and surprising entrances of the Ninja Akasaka restaurant and the atmospheric alleyways of the Shin-Yokohama Museum. The breadth of his experience is clearly displayed in his latest project featuring these amazing miniature villages.
This one is called Hawaiian Pineapple Resort. Front, side and rear views show the elaborate attention to detail, with bridges and stairways leading the eye into the nooks and crannies of the building. If only tree houses like this existed in real life!
The Lighthouse Series features two lighthouse designs, each created around two different Japanese suiseki.
Suiseki are small, naturally occurring rocks with unique shapes that resemble mountains, islands or waterfalls. They often reflect nature so perfectly they’re traditionally appreciated on their own in bowls or trays.
Aiba builds upon the natural lines and ridges of the suiseki to create his stunning designs.
Suiseki forms the basis of several other Aiba designs, including one for lovers of steam-punk called “The Rock Island”.
The vertical paradise below is known as “Ice Cream Packages Tower”. We pity the lighthouse keeper who has to walk up all those steps!
In an ode to Bibendum, more commonly know as The Michelin Man, Aiba takes inspiration from the company’s 1898 slogan, Nunc est bibendum, “Now is the time to drink”, once used to describe the Michelin tyre’s ability to “drink up obstacles”. This modern incarnation of Bibendum, entitled “Hôtel de Michelin”, suggests it’s still the time to drink, only now it’s inside the belly of the beast in an exquisite hotel.
The artwork he creates in the planning stages is just as beautiful and intricate as the final design.
Aiba’s bonsai designs play on the relationship between humans and nature. While traditional bonsai reflect the beauty of nature in miniature form, these artworks add themes of humanity and harmony to the continually evolving landscape.
Close-up views show the details on the street lamps, turrets and stairways. We can just imagine tiny workers treading the walkways and napping in shady corners of their homes!
Takanori Aiba has had an impressive career, continually using his creativity and imagination to surprise us in all sorts of different forms and mediums. We can’t wait to see where he takes us to next!