Kagawa’s Udon Monster joins Japan’s other local kaiju to help save the environment

Did you know that each of Japan’s 47 prefectures has a designated monster that represents their region? The larger-than-life beings were born from the “Gotouchi Kaiju” (“Local Monsters”) multimedia project helmed by Professor Hiroshi Sagae, who’s worked on a number of kaiju-centric films such as Godzilla Millenium, Ultraman Saga and Gamera the Brave.

Now there’s a special crowdfunding campaign that’s calling on the masses to support the plight of the monsters as they strive to protect nature and promote greenery in their towns. Patrons who contribute to their favourite beast will be rewarded with cards, T-shirts or even a 3-D kaiju figurine but best of all, the funds raised for each prefecture will go towards supporting environmental projects in the region.

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Japan mourns the loss of legendary illustrator Noriyoshi Ohrai

It has been announced that Noriyoshi Ohrai—the Japanese illustrator best known for producing remarkable poster art for Metal Gear Solid as well as for films including the Godzilla series and Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back—passed away from pneumonia yesterday morning at the age of 79.

With a career spanning over half a century and an impressive portfolio of artworks for novels, games and well-known international movie releases, fans around the world are mourning the loss of a great talent and taking a look back at his extraordinary body of work.

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Brilliant Art Aquarium takes over Nijo Castle in Kyoto for a spellbinding nocturnal event

Kyoto is, of course, one of Japan’s most loved and visited sightseeing destinations, so it doesn’t really need any extra help drawing crowds. But that doesn’t mean something a little extra-special would hurt anything! This year marks the 400th anniversary of Rimpa, a traditional school of Japanese painting that came from a community of craftsmen founded in 1615. In honor of the anniversary, the Rimpa 400 Year Celebration Festival is being held in Kyoto, and one of the events is the Art Aquarium, making an appearance in Nijo Castle!

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Say Hello (Kitty) to my little friend — Sanrio’s famous mascot as a custom assault rifle

Although most online first-person shooters these days allow players to customize their avatar to an extent, with only limited options it can be difficult to stand out from the crowd on the battlefield. You might spot someone with the occasional paid-DLC hat or weapon, but nothing we’ve seen comes anywhere close to the awesomeness of this Hello Kitty-inspired assault rifle.

But just who exactly is the genius behind this masterpiece? You might be surprised to find out they have closer connections to the gaming industry than you might have first expected.

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Johnson Ting’s vision of the future is full of well-armed, gorgeously illustrated soldiers & cops

It’s been a big year for Johnson Ting, one of Malaysia’s most celebrated artists. The concept designer won an award as one of his home country’s top ten young artists and a toy company is even releasing a figure based on his work. Despite all this and working as a designer for numerous high-profile companies, he’s managed to also post a host of gorgeous illustrations, paintings and CG images for the whole world to see. This is work that simply must be shared!

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New Japanese commercial captures high school life with amazing blackboard chalk art animation

For students all around the world, the day of a big test is one of the most nerve-racking of the entire school year. And when you’re sitting for your university exam in Japan, it’s like the final step of a long journey after months of solo studying, endless reading and many sleepless nights.

The student’s journey to the final exam has now been beautifully captured in a unique two-minute commercial that features the most fitting of canvases: the humble school blackboard. While students around the country have shown us their amazing talent for creating chalk-based works of art on classroom blackboards, this commercial brings chalkboard art to life with a moving animation that will simply blow you away.

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Rolling like a samurai – Japanese coachbuilder’s car features centuries-old woodcarving technique

Does Japan’s Mitsuoka Motors count as a carmaker? It’s debatable. Yes, the company does have its own dealers that sell Mitsuoka-branded cars. Almost all of them, though, are Nissans or Mazdas with extensive cosmetic modifications. Even the company’s Orochi coupe, which has its own dedicated body, uses an engine built by Toyota.

So let’s ask an easier question: Are Mitsuoka’s cars visually unique? Unquestionably. The company has always made aesthetics the number-one priority in all of its vehicles, and that tradition continues with woodcarving so exquisite it wouldn’t look at all out of place in a Japanese castle, but which instead graces this Mitsuoka sedan.

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Illustrator creates beautiful “Bicycle Boy” watercolour series inspired by Studio Ghibli

Studio Ghibli, Japan’s famed animation house, has a remarkable talent for captivating audiences around the world with inspiring storylines and loveable characters. What really brings them all to life, however, are their animated backgrounds; beautiful palettes of light and shade and inky hues that draw us into their magical worlds and have us never wanting to leave.

There’s one background illustrator in Tokyo who knows just how to recreate the atmosphere of a Studio Ghibli movie and now he’s bringing out the beauty of Japan’s narrow roads and suburban landscapes in a series of illustrations entitled “Bicycle Boy”. Using a real-life setting from Studio Ghibli’s Whisper of the Heart, the picturesque journey of a boy and his bike through the streets of Japan is so beautiful we’ll happily follow him wherever he goes!

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Japanese artist captures the beauty of Tokyo street scenes and cafes on coffee cups 【Pics】

When you’re travelling in a foreign city, the sights, sounds and aroma of your surroundings can be so beautiful that there’s an overwhelming desire to capture it in a way a photo never could. Next time you find yourself in this predicament, you might want to stop by a cafe and take out a pen like this artist, who captures the atmosphere of Tokyo beautifully with just some coloured pencils, pens and a humble paper coffee cup.

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Giant collection of 16-bit Nintendo cover art is ultimate coffee table book for old school gamers

Thanks to modern Internet marketing, it’s unlikely that anyone buys a video game without first having seen multiple gameplay videos of it as various stages of production. Gamers didn’t used to have access to so much information, though. In the 16-bit era, the less developed video game journalism sector meant that only major releases would get spreads in print magazines, and for some niche titles the only available visual preview came on the box itself.

As a result, the cover artwork played a huge role in catching customers’ eyes and conveying the mood and style of the game. Like classic movie posters, the best examples are works of art, and many of them are now being assembled in the upcoming book Super Famicom: The Box Art Collection.

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Artist Mio Hashimoto shares her stunning wooden animal sculptures and methods in new how-to book

The visual arts are, for a writer like me, akin to magic. I see the finished product and the raw material and I basically have no idea how the artist got from point A to point B — even if I actually watched them work through the entire process! And when it comes to sculptures, all bets are off. You could tell me a wizard conjured the work whole with a wave of a wand, and I’d be hard-pressed to prove you wrong.

Fortunately, the incredibly talented Mio Hashimoto, woodcarver and artist, has written a how-to book explaining some of her methods and showing the detail of some of her adorable animal sculptures. Now, at least, I’ll know exactly how she achieved her results, even if I’ll never have a chance of replicating them myself. And for all you artists out there, aspiring or otherwise, this book will teach you how to make all the pets you’ll ever want!

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Japanese employment site reimagines web developers, accountants, and more as anime RPG heroes

Career arcs in Japan used to be simple. You finished school, got a job, and worked there until it was time to retire. Along the way, you were paid a salary calculated strictly on the basis of how long you’d been with the company.

That’s not necessarily the case anymore, and as more and more Japanese switch employers, and even industries, they need a baseline from which to evaluate the pay of potential posts, which is where Japanese website Kyuryo Bank comes in. Yes, Kyuryo Bank has all the salary-related numerical data and progression charts you’d expect, but it also has something truly unique: awesome anime-style illustrations of professions ranging from public accountant and lawyer to web designer, pro blogger, and yes, even “chicken sexer.”

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Second-year Japanese high school student creates amazingly realistic dioramas

When I was in high school I thought I was pretty good at drawing, only to take a look at some of my work 10 years later and realize how hideous most of it looked. In fact, it’s more than a little embarrassing how proud I was back then over a couple of notebooks of ugly doodles.

But unlike myself, there are some really creative young artists out there producing top-notch work in between classes and studying. One recent example currently circulating the Japanese web is a collection of intricate dioramas put together by a second-year high school student.

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New art book “Illustration 2016” gathers 150 of today’s best pro and amateur illustrators

If you love art and illustration, you’re probably aware of plenty of non-professional, up-and-coming artists who showcase their work on sites like Tumblr and Twitter. In fact, fan art can be of such a high quality as to surpass the original work, and now there’s a new art book on sale in Japan which aims to “capture” the entire illustration scene at the present moment, showcasing work both amateur and professional by some of today’s most influential artists.

Illustration 2016 features work by 150 artists of different backgrounds and is the perfect guide for those who are into fan art and illustration of all kinds.

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Kid faithfully emulates classic arcade game Xevious out of paper in arts and crafts class

In these days of modern video games, people seem to be losing sight of what gaming is all about. In all the glitz and glamour of motion control and Hollywood actors lending their voices and likeness to games, it sometimes feels like we’ve forgotten that games are meant to be incredibly difficult, repetitive tasks performed for an arbitrary and intangible reward system of “points.”

This is incredibly valuable experience to prepare young minds for entering the workforce, but thanks to free-roaming environments and checkpoints-a-plenty, we’ve gone from a generation of Mr. Do!‘s to bunch of Mr. Don’t!‘s.

But this nine-year-old kid, whose art class project based on a classic arcade shooter is shown above, gets it. And mark my words, he will become the future leader of this nation.

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Five beautiful pylon designs that belong in Japan

Whenever we see something that’s cute, huge and blows our minds, we generally look to Japan as the source behind the creation. While they’ve proved they can be design innovators in oversized sushi, and the creation of fluffy giant cats, there’s one area where Japan has a lot to learn from other countries, and its something that exists around the country in abundance: power lines.

Often seen towering over rice fields, propped up on the side of mountains and jutting out beyond the high rises, wouldn’t it be significantly more amazing if the ordinary-looking transmission tower had the occasional smiley face or pair of gigantic arms like a colossal Titan? We take a look at some amazing electricity pylon designs from around the world, in the hope that one day, Japan will turn its keen design eye in their direction.

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Japan’s newest Shinkansen is world’s fastest gallery, packed with contemporary art inside and out

From an engineering standpoint, Japan’s famed Shinkansen is already a work of art. Recently, though, the country’s bullet trains have been putting a renewed effort into their appearance, taking inspiration from centuries-old tradition and science-fiction anime.

The latest Shinkansen to be unveiled, though, incorporates design cues more modern than tatami reed floors yet not as futuristic as giant robots. Instead, it’s envisioned as a travelling gallery of contemporary art, allowing for what operator East Japan Railways calls “the world’s fastest art appreciation.”

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Lifelike dolls created by legendary Goyo Hirata amaze Twitter users, leave us speechless

Japan is full of national treasures, from beautiful nature spots to old architecture, but one of the most interesting classes of national treasures is the living kind. Masters of their crafts, these national treasures often represent the heights of Japanese arts — including doll making! But we’re not talking about G.I. Joe figures or Barbie dolls, we’re talking about works of art that look less like toys and more like real people frozen in time.

Goyo Hirata was exactly that kind of artist, and once you see some of his creations, you’ll agree that he was definitely deserving of the status of Living National Treasure. Though Hirata passed away in 1981, his work is still celebrated today and no less amazing.

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These fan-drawn fused Pokémon are so cool we wish they were really in the game

When Pokémon graced our tiny Game Boy screens back in 1996 (or, depending on where you’re from,  1998 or 1999), we all thought that nothing could be better than these beautifully crafted 151 animal-like Pocket Monsters. But then a second generation of games came out and suddenly we were graced with 100 new Pokémon who pledged their loyalty and undying love to us, their trainers. Now in 2015, there are 721 different Poké-friends to collect and train and we couldn’t be happier with them…unless we could take two of our favorites and fuse them together, that is!

The concept may have been done before, but each artist brings their own personal fliar and the results are always fascinating. What makes the following combinations unique is that sometimes there are not two but three Pokémon fused together!

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You don’t want to meet these Dragon Ball Z villains in a dark alley at night

There are plenty of horror movie villains that scare us so bad we can’t sleep at night. These include the classics like Freddy Kruger, Jason, and Chucky as well as some newer terrors like Pennywise, Sadako, and Ghostface. Well, isn’t it about time to expand the roster of baddies that keep you up at night? They might not be household screamfest names yet, but what about Freeza, Cell and Evil Majin Buu?

Yes…the Dragon Ball Z villains. We are not pulling your leg (nor ripping it off painfully), but one artist has rendered these two-dimensional anime characters into truly terrifying creatures of the night. So, hide your kids and hide your wives, because it’s about to get super scary.

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