In Japanese, the word for snowman is yuki daruma. While many language learners and even native-born Japanese themselves might not think to question why a snowman in English is known as a snow daruma in Japanese, these paintings from the Edo period (1603-1807) reveal the secret history of the word and a fascinating tradition of snow-making that was somehow lost along the way.
At the beginning of this year, we found out just how hot Mona Lisa was as a college student. With her long curled auburn hair and fancy side bangs, she looked more chic than enigmatic. A new image of Mona Lisa has surfaced on the internet in Japan, making many of us wonder exactly what stage in her life she could have been in. With flirty pigtails sprouting from either side of her head and a smaller pointed chin, she looks more at home amongst the girls of Japanese idol group AKB48 than in the Musée du Louvre in Paris.
We’ve introduced the work of Oki Sato of Nendo before with Coca-Cola bottleware and a Starbucks pop-up store, but you have yet to see just how creative and unusual his art can be. From floating chairs to puppet tote bags, Mr. Sato strives to “give people a small ‘ ! ‘ moment” with his unique works of functional art.
In recent years, there has been a backlash against the numerous princesses in Disney’s films. Criticisms have been lobbed at films spanning the many decades of the studio’s animated canon, with complaints that earlier princesses are too inactive, and that more recent heroines are too sexualized in design.
Regardless of whether or not you agree that Disney’s princesses are having a negative influence on the impressionable minds of children, I think we can all agree that what’s most important is not how someone looks, but rather the quality of their character and integrity. The highest form of beauty is inner beauty, and it’s important that we help our children develop the skills necessary to look inside of a person to see what they’re really made of.
And I can’t think of a better way to do that than by examining X-rays of Disney princesses.
Have you ever had one of those moments where you wish you could just disappear and the let the world pass by? Like Harry Potter’s cloak of invisibility, Chinese artist Liu Bolin has perfected the art of being unseen. Liu uses his chameleon-like skills (and a great deal of paint) to make himself barely noticeable even in some of the world’s busiest cities. Get ready to test your eyesight and take a look at 38 pictures of Liu hiding in plain sight!
The robotic vacuum cleaner Roomba has already made life easier by cleaning floors on its own (when it is not running away), but a U.S. art exhibition recently showed how the device can turn household chores into a replay of childhood video games. At the art show, an artist crafted Nintendo-inspired covers and turned the cleaning robots into four of the most feared, but beloved video game enemies from the Super Mario and Legend of Zelda series.
We were all pretty sure we live in the Matrix anyway. Doesn’t that explain deja vu and rainbows or whatever?
Now we have definitive artistic proof that the Matrix is real, and only those that read tons of books ever get it. As this artist rendition shows, reading books makes you more knowledgeable about the world around you in the form of a giant book ladder that lets you climb up and see the real world outside of our digitized quasi-reality.
If you visit a shrine in Japan, you’re sure to find a small shack somewhere on the shrine grounds selling Omamori, special amulets for good luck or protection. These small pieces of colored cloth come in many different designs and serve various purposes. Some are meant to protect the holder while traveling, others give good luck to those taking a test. They are almost always brightly colored and are works of art in themselves. Inspired by the beauty of Omamori, one design team from Japan has created beautiful pouches and notepads that are sure to impress.
Do you have an important date or job interview coming up? Why not seal the deal by flashing your handmade Mega Man wallet so everyone knows you’re playing with power? And if you don’t have a Mega Man wallet, then Sova Leatherworks can make one for you!
Steph M. is the artistic talent behind Sova Leatherworks in Tacoma, USA. Although she sells a wide range of patterns on her wallets, it’s her self-confessed geekiness which led to the series of handcrafted wallet designs based on video games and movies that have been attracting attention in Japan.
When it comes to Japanese handicrafts, almost everyone has heard about the amazing shapes achievable with origami. But how many people are familiar with Japanese orange peel art?
In the cold winter months, it’s an unspoken tradition for Japanese people to curl up under a kotatsu (heated table with a blanket thrown over it) and eat mikan (Mandarin oranges). However, many people have found that just eating these winter treats is not enough to satisfy them, and cutting away the peel into complex shapes has become a common art form. You’ll be amazed by the creatures that can come to life from a single orange peel!
Semantically speaking, you’d expect scarecrows to be, well, scary. It turns out, though, that along with starkly contrasting attitudes regarding the appropriateness of pooping on a freshly washed car, people and birds have vastly different terror thresholds. Any vaguely human-shaped combination of sticks and rags will do the trick in keeping avian adversaries away from your crops, so there’s no need to put that much time or effort into the design process.
Nonetheless, one artist in rural China went the extra mile in producing scarecrows that, while still not frightening humans, are definitely impressing them.
If you’re in Belfast before December, you might want to consider a helicopter ride.
That’s the only way you’ll truly able to appreciate a huge artwork that’s sitting in the city’s Titanic quarter.
If you’ve ever used the Tokyo Metro, or even browsed maps of the rail network online, you’ll know that it is a positive maze of lines, colours, numbers and names that even locals sometimes have trouble navigating. Compared to the London Underground or even New York’s massive subway system, the Tokyo Metro is absolute chaos on paper, making us wonder how it could possibly all run so smoothly on a daily basis.
Thanks to one Tokyo University graduate’s efforts, however, we now know exactly what is going on beneath our feet, with this three-dimensional model filled with coloured liquids representing every twist, turn, climb and dip the Metro’s tunnels make in real life.
We almost wonder whether Yang Liu, a Beijing-born designer who has lived in Germany since 1990, was tripping when she put together these hip, riddle-like pictographs that abstractly convey behavioral differences between Westerners and Easterns; or more specifically, Germans and Chinese.
Relying on her experiences in Europe and China, Liu put together these clever designs that are a sort of Rorschach test for which region you identify with. We found ourselves staring and trying to figure out what they stood for, then nodding in agreement about one side or the other, but not always the side Liu expected us to identify with.
Although the language barrier can make traveling or living in Japan tough at times, dining out is a snap. There are plenty of conveyer belt sushi restaurants where you just grab what you want as the plates go by, and at many ramen and beef bowl restaurants you simply buy a meal ticket out of a vending machine, then pass it off to the cook.
Even when technology isn’t there to save you, ordering is still easy, thanks to the numerous Japanese restaurants that display wax models of their menu items, allowing you to bring the wait staff to the display window and point and what you want. There’s a whole industry devoted to replicating food, and we recently tried our hand at making a wax creation of our own.
Wire art is certainly nothing new, head down to any local craft fair and you’ll probably find a little wire frog or ostrich overflowing with folksy charm. But you’ve never seen anything like what Korean sculptor Park Seung-mo can pull off with thin strips of metal.
To say he takes the art to another level is an understatement. His elaborate 3-D portraits and statues are awesome in their detail and mind-boggling to imagine how much time and effort went into making them.
The art of origami is one of Japan’s most widely recognized cultural contributions to the international world. Although the practice of paper-folding has many possible roots, the Japanese approach to sculpting three-dimensional shapes from flat squares has had a large impact on many people’s approach to not just art, but also packaging and product design. Here are six very special items, designed both in and out of Japan, which claim inspiration from the practice of origami.
Interesting media can make for especially interesting art, as the pencil-tip carvings, hairy apples and damaged banana art we’ve covered before should attest, but when you go carving up some perfectly good brand-name lipsticks to celebrate strong women and fashion icons, you are bound to cause your intended audience a little heartache.
Pin-up girl illustrations hold a sexy and nostalgic fascination for men and women alike. There’s just something about the combination of their cute, open expressions and slightly erotic poses that captures and keeps a viewer’s eye.
That lasting fascination means that while the heyday of pin-up girl illustrations may have come and gone with the rise in photography, that doesn’t mean they aren’t still making appearances, and not just in vintage shops either. Polish artist Jaroslav Wieczorkiewicz is using some famous illustrations as the basis for a new photography series that gives new meaning to the phrase “milk does a body good.”
- Beautiful Chinese boy “traps” the hearts of Korean netizens 【Photos】1
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- Beautiful Chinese boy “traps” the hearts of Korean netizens 【Photos】5
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- Japan celebrates Knee-High Socks Day【Photos】8
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- Before and After: 31 Startling Images of Plastic Surgery in Korea 【Photo Album】1
- 252 of Japan’s favorite animated gifs2
- What the hell is this monster?? 【Updated】3
- 10 things Japan gets horribly wrong4
- Chinese designer depicts Eastern vs. Western human behaviors in clever pictographs5
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- 10 things Japan gets awesomely right8
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- 10 things Japan gets horribly wrong
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- The true meaning of Japanese Christmas
- Nine unusual products from Japanese designer, Oki Sato
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- Keep your tea warm with Thermos ala Japanese style!
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- Japanese drivers get a ghostly reminder about winter road safety【Video】
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- Chinese designer depicts Eastern vs. Western human behaviors in clever pictographs
- When Two Amazing Worlds Collide: Welcome to the World of Cat Sushi!