The following photos of Japanese rooms and buildings perfectly capture the nostalgic atmosphere of Meiji and Showa-era establishments. But can you figure out the truth behind them? Take a look through these stunning photographs and scroll down for the big reveal.
Every year, farmers in the village of Inakadate, Aomori Prefecture, plant beautiful natural murals in the fields using different varieties of rice. The practice began in 1994, and now hundreds of thousands of people visit the tiny village each summer to see their rice paddy art.
But it’s not just planted rice they’ve been drawing pictures with. Underneath one of those rice fields, another hidden gem has been lurking – a world map! And it’s there for all to see…on Google Maps.
Nov 6, 2014
We like latte art, and its frothy 3-D variant, as much as the next group of visually stimulated coffee sippers. But as nice as it is to have a trained barista decorate your drink with a kitty or smiley face, most of us don’t have the time, equipment, or manual dexterity to add illustrations to drinks we make for ourselves.
But now those artistic flourishes don’t have to be something you can only have when you go out and pay five bucks for a cup of coffee, with new products that’ll let you enjoy latte art at home for about as much effort as tossing a cube of sugar into your mug.
Nov 5, 2014
A quick look through the shelves of a bookstore or the inventory of online retailers will turn up tons of guides for how to draw manga. When still getting the hang of the basics of dynamic drawing, a book is the ideal way for many people to learn, since it spares them the embarrassment of having anyone else see their painfully produced yet still subpar early work.
Still, there’s only so much you can learn from on you own through reading and independent practice. That’s why toymaker Takara Tomy is releasing a kit that includes not just the tools of the trade, but demonstrations by a published manga artist and feedback from professional instructors.
Nov 3, 2014
In many ways, art is one of the most human activities we can take part in–it leaves behind not only an expression of the person who created it, but also becomes a part of the narrative that future generations use to understand their history. In this case, the art is literally one of the oldest depictions of a Korean face known–and it certainly seems to be adding to the narrative in South Korea!
It’s also drawing laughs due to a similarity to a certain South Korean rapper…
Japanese animation and video games have a long-standing tradition of creating cute and/or super powered versions of prominent figures from the country’s history. In the U.S., we don’t really do this as often, and you might jump to the conclusion that the deck is stacked in Japan’s favor, seeing as how so many of their rulers were also katana-carrying samurai.
But dig a little deeper and you’ll find plenty of action protagonist potential among American presidents, from Abraham Lincoln’s wrestling skills to Andrew Jackson’s well-documented love of shooting dudes. And as for making them adorable? Leave that to Utah artist Brandon Dayton, who’s reimagined nine Pokémon as U.S. heads of state.
Oct 30, 2014
From Totoro to Ponyo, Studio Ghibli’s characters are adored by millions of people the world over. But if those cute and cuddly creations were given a more realistic makeover would be still be quite so fond of them? If Totoro went from “Aaaaw” to “Arrrgh!” would quite so many kids insist on being tucked into a Ghibli bed-spread each night?
US artist and owner of one of the best names ever Andrew Michael Golden may be familiar to some readers for his “Videogame Characters in Real Life” series which went viral back in September this year. Well, since then he’s been hard at work bringing all of your Studio Ghibli favourites into our world.
And, goodness me, they’re eye-catching…
Oct 30, 2014
Would you eat a bowl of soup made mainly with vegetables grown in Fukushima Prefecture? What if the cook swore to you that everything that went into the soup had been tested and was safe for human consumption? Would you be able to push all thoughts of Fukushima Daiichi, contaminated groundwater and Blinky the three-eyed fish out of your mind long enough to risk a spoonful?
A pair of artists from Japan recently gave visitors to the Frieze Art Fair in London just such a decision to make, presenting them with a homemade broth made with Fukushima-grown produce and asking them to give it a try, if they dared.
Oct 21, 2014
Do you remember when you were a little kid and you used a magnifying glass to look at bugs and leaves? Do you remember when you realized that if you caught the sunlight in the magnifying glass in just the right way you could set the bugs and leaves on fire?
Austronesian artist Jordan Mang-osan (not to be confused with Mango-san) is also using the sun to burn things at this home in the Philippines, but instead of frying bugs, he’s creating massive works of art.
Oct 19, 2014
Japan’s become pretty enamored with latte art over the past few years, with baristas all over the country creating cute characters in swirls of cream and foam. But what if you’re not a coffee drinker, either because you’re watching your caffeine intake or just because your inner child won’t let you drink anything so bitter? Is there a way for you to set your table with eye-pleasing edibles?
Sure there is! All you need is a pile of grated daikon radish, and this new book that tells you how to craft it into adorable edibles.
Ronald McDonald towers over distraught men and women in floral wreaths, who reach out desperately to touch his glowing, Christ-like figure.
A 17th-century Simon Vouet painting is reimagined with a female figure from a 1960s comic-book, who shields herself from Father Time’s anger as Ned Flanders looks on laughing.
Welcome to the world of Notre Chauvet. Drawing on their training in traditional painting to combine classical elements with figures from pop culture, brothers Jo and Graeme Hagan create brash, dystopian visions that are as colourful as they are dark.
Oct 18, 2014
There is something thrilling about finding people who like the same things as you do. You finally get the chance to gush about your passion with people who can match your enthusiasm. And when like-minded people get together, they come up with some weird ways to show their love for their particular fandom.
Take this recent Twitter hashtag. The trend is for girls to post an honest drawing of yourself as a male high school student with some personal information. While a lot of girls are posting some pretty ridiculous drawings re-imagining themselves as high school boys, girls who identify themselves as “fujoshi” have posted some pretty over-the-top renditions.
Oct 18, 2014
It may be one of the most famous statues in the world, but that doesn’t mean ‘The Thinker’ is unique. There are actually around 28 versions of Rodin’s masterpiece bronze sculpture, and those are just the ones we know about.
That list of Thinkers is about to get a little bit longer, as a research team in Japan has just unearthed a fully flexible, articulated version of ‘The Thinker’. Coming in at less than a tenth of the size of Rodin’s original(s), this incredible bendable figure is only 15.5cm tall!
Every year, a small number of Japanese tourists in Paris are struck by an extreme form of culture shock. This psychological distress, caused by the gap between the idealised, romantic image of the French capital, and the reality of the noisy, dirty city, is known as “Paris Syndrome”, and at one point, the Japanese embassy was even running a 24-hour hotline for distressed citizens requiring assistance.
Next year, however, Paris comes to Tokyo, as some of the finest masterpieces of the Louvre museum are to be shown at the National Art Center, Tokyo. The exhibition is entitled ‘Louvre Museum: Genre Painting – Scenes from Daily Life’, and will be the first Louvre exhibition in Japan for six years.
Some days, it seems like everything’s cuter in Japan. After all, this is the country where some construction crews feel if they have to shut down part of the street, the best barricades are the ones shaped like a procession of purple and pink kimono-wearing princesses.
There’s an exception to this rule, though, and it’s mermaids. In the West, they’re portrayed as enchanting beauties of the deep. In Japan, though, they were traditionally treated like yokai, ghostly monsters, as this collection of Japanese mermaid paintings has a few that would be better stars for horror movies than kid-friendly animated musicals.
We spend a lot of time looking at our favorite Disney characters. With all the attention we shower upon them, we wouldn’t be surprised if, by this point, they’re all absolutely convinced that we want to know what they’re up to every single moment of the day.
So really, we wouldn’t blame Ariel, Alice, and the rest if they all started snapping selfies and sharing them online, like in this fan art that looks at what we could expect if Disney characters had Instagram accounts.
Oct 15, 2014
Written Japanese uses three kinds of script. At the top of the difficulty curve, you’ve got kanji, the complex characters originally imported from China that can require over a dozen brush strokes to write, with each kanji representing a word or concept.
A little less challenging are hiragana, a set of 50 curving phonetic characters, but if English is your native language, odds are you’ll have the least trouble with angular katakana. Like hiragana, katakana is a phonetic system, so each character corresponds to a syllable. Even better, while often one kanji can have three or four possible readings, each katakana has just one possible pronunciation.
Of course, you still have to memorize how to pronounce all 50 katakana (85 if you’re being really technical) in the first place. One group of graphic designers are aiming to make that task a little easier, though, with a font that combines katakana with phonetics written in English.
Oct 14, 2014
There’s so much to love about Japanese customer service. Whether you’re shopping at an expensive department store or perusing the shelves at the local supermarket, you can rest assured that everything has been thought through and tailored to meet your needs and desires.
The same attention to detail will be there for visitors to the upcoming National Treasures of Japan exhibition at the Tokyo National Art Museum in Ueno this month. Clearly aware that visitors will want to dig up a national treasure of their own after viewing the exhibition, the gift shop has some unusual souvenirs for customers to take home – including chocolate artefacts.
To some hardcore coffee fanatics, Starbucks may not serve the best coffee in the world, but they are definitely the most internationally popular coffee brand known to us. Starbucks fans around the world are not just in love with the coffeehouse chain’s signature blends, many of them like the brand as a whole entity, and some artistic individuals have even been inspired to create handicrafts and pieces of art with the brand’s packaging items.
Think you know the brand’s iconic logo well enough? Korean artist Soo Min Kim shows us faces of the infamous siren that we’ve never seen before in his creative renditions of Starbucks cup art!
- Tiny town in northern Japan creates gorgeous, gigantic artwork out of rice paddies 【Video】1
- Japanese model builder wins at Gundam, makes a 3D model look like a flat drawing2
- A Ghibli mystery solved — the identity of exotic looking food in Spirited Away revealed!3
- Tokyo adding free Wi-Fi to 143 subway stations for foreign travelers4
- Love curry? Why not wear it around your neck? Plastic food neckpieces get netizens talking5
- Scope out which love hotel to take your next date to right now in Google Street View6
- Super generous Japanese megastore keeps boxes of change at register for you to use7
- Does the way you cross your arms say anything about your personality? Japan thinks so8
- The newer, cheaper Kakureya II: The perfect secret fort/box for studying, drinking, or napping9
- Ten-year-old boy cuts construction worker’s lifeline because noise was interrupting his cartoons10
- 1,200 Japanese workers convert above-ground train to subway line in a matter of hours1
- Tiny town in northern Japan creates gorgeous, gigantic artwork out of rice paddies 【Video】2
- Why almost all Japanese people hate root beer3
- A Ghibli mystery solved — the identity of exotic looking food in Spirited Away revealed!4
- Yamanashi zoo’s roly-poly resident raccoon is ridiculously round, remarkably cute5
- Canada-based artist stuns with new realistic take on Naruto characters6
- Turn an ordinary balloon into a smartphone case in seconds with this neat trick7
- Ghibli background artist Naohisa Inoue’s painting technique is out of this world8
- Does the way you cross your arms say anything about your personality? Japan thinks so9
- Can you spot the problem that led to the recall of this otherwise cute Japanese New Year’s card?10
- “No one sleeps in her class!” Internet goes gaga for gorgeous Chinese science teacher1
- Hayao Miyazaki working on new project, says “I’m going to continue making anime until I die”2
- Japanese high school holds annual contest to decide the prettiest “girl” in school3
- 1,200 Japanese workers convert above-ground train to subway line in a matter of hours4
- Sorry guys! Video of “sexy ice cream girl” in Taipei only delivers on half its milky promises5
- Oysters’ amazing cleaning skills shock Japanese netizens who question their shellfish habit6
- Japan discovers awesome cheese snack that takes just one ingredient and two minutes to make7
- One Piece manga sends off Naruto with a classy secret message8
- Tiny town in northern Japan creates gorgeous, gigantic artwork out of rice paddies 【Video】9
- Clever Japanese pet owners find perfect cat beds…at IKEA! 【Photos】10
- School textbook is withdrawn after “teacher” on the front is recognized as Japanese adult video star1
- Artist turns innocent Disney princesses into flirty pin-up girls2
- “No one sleeps in her class!” Internet goes gaga for gorgeous Chinese science teacher3
- Hayao Miyazaki working on new project, says “I’m going to continue making anime until I die”4
- Mickey and friends in human form are more charming than we had imagined! 【Pics】5
- A sad turn of events at a butterfly exhibition in China6
- 6-year-old boy vowed to marry his childhood sweetheart, really marries her 18 years later7
- Ten-year-old boy cuts construction worker’s lifeline because noise was interrupting his cartoons8
- Chinese cat with unfortunate dark patch of fur tired of people asking why it’s shocked9
- 61 more images of cosmetic surgery from South Korea10
- Scope out which love hotel to take your next date to right now in Google Street View
- Super generous Japanese megastore keeps boxes of change at register for you to use
- Does the way you cross your arms say anything about your personality? Japan thinks so
- The newer, cheaper Kakureya II: The perfect secret fort/box for studying, drinking, or napping
- Ten-year-old boy cuts construction worker’s lifeline because noise was interrupting his cartoons
- Store employee uses barcode scanner to defeat knife-wielding robber
- Yokohama restaurant serves fried axolotl, along with giant isopod, camel, and crocodile
- Shimotsuki Matsuri: The extraordinary winter festival that inspired Ghibli’s ‘Spirited Away’
- Artist creates “PokeMonstrosities” that are the stuff of nightmares
- Anime-loving mum takes kyara-ben to a new level with these well-drawn anime bentos
- Make sure to visit this historical onsen once before you die, or just do it right now with Google