art

The City of Angels is now the City of Samurai with Los Angeles museum’s awesome armor exhibition

Like clockwork, every winter I get a serious bout of home-sickness. It’s usually triggered by a call or email from someone back home telling me about taking a drive with the top down, watching football on ordinary broadcast TV, going out for some Vietnamese sandwiches, or one of the other things I miss about life in Los Angeles.

“But,” I remind myself, “Japan has lots of cool things too! Where else can you go to the museum and see massive collections of samurai armor, huh?”

Oh, right now you can do that at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art? Touché, L.A.

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Out of this world Valentine’s chocolates are (almost) too gorgeous to eat

Chilly January is drawing to a close and that means that Valentine’s Day is just around the corner. Here in Japan, Valentine chocolates are big business, which means shops pull out all the stops to create delicacies as easy on the eyes as they are sweet in your mouth. We’ve picked our favorites for this year, so whether you are buying for your lover or yourself, check out these dainty nibbles!

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Awesome carved eraser stamps are something to marvel, but leave some skeptical

The world is full of amazingly talented artists – people who can take ordinary everyday objects and make something extraordinary. Without question, Japan has its own fair share of talent, what with high school students creating beautiful murals with nothing but a stick of chalk, artists sketching insanely detailed drawings using a simple ball-point pen, and the awe-inspiring snow sculptures that are constructed at Sapporo’s snow festival each year.

Now, we have insanely detailed, hand-carved stamps made from erasers setting the internet abuzz.

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Puzzling, ludicrously hard Touei Animation employment test proves animators deserve a raise

If you’ve been following behind-the-scenes entertainment news for a while, you’ve probably heard the reputation that animators have as low-paid peons that, despite providing a valuable and necessary service for both the obvious animated films as well as any movie that relies heavily on computer animation, often get paid meager wages and work hellishly long hours.

Some, then, might reverse that logic to assume this is all because animators are basically the burger-flippers of the entertainment world; cranking out a desirable product through simple, mindless repetition. Hence the low pay, right?

Well, if this Touei Animation employment exam “question” – among myriad other evidence – shows us anything, it’s that animation is hard work that requires creativity, sure, but also a fair bit of mental agility in addition to all those long hours.

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You’ll be surprised when you see who draws these adorable moe characters

Do you know what the creator of Naruto, Masahi Kishimoto, looks like? How about Hello Kitty‘s artist, Yuko Shimizu? Despite their drawings being prevalent all over the world, most people have probably never seen the true faces of these famous artists. With this in mind, amateur artists around Japan have been tweeting  #イラストと描いた人 (an illustration and the artist who drew it), including their own picture beside a work of their art.

Unfortunately, a lot of people choose to hide their faces behind cosplay masks, editing techniques or just facing away from the camera. Some don’t even post a real photo! However, the artist behind the really cute drawings above decided to post a real, unhindered picture, but it might not be what you’re expecting…

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Artist gives the finger to famous characters from fiction and real life

Our fingers are each a special snowflake, the ridges and whorls on the pads creating a unique pattern that sets us apart from anyone else. Criminals go to great lengths to make sure not so much as a pinky touches the scene to leave incriminating evidence, but if they get careless and leave a print behind perhaps they could give some of the following disguises a try.

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‘Josou’ specialist Naoko Tachibana opens crossdressing photography retrospective in Tokyo【Photos】

Naoko Tachibana is a photographer and professional ‘josou’ specialist who has helped over 1,000 men to try out crossdressing, giving styling and fashion advice as well as shooting stunning photos of the completed transformation. And josou itself – male to female crossdressing – is the theme of a new solo exhibition of Tachibana’s photographic work, which opens at the Vanilla Gallery in Ginza, Tokyo this month.

Join us after the jump for a peek at the promotional shots for the exhibition, featuring Ladybeard and more!

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French artist alters Japanese street signs to make people “more observant”, police not impressed

Some rather peculiar, sticker-altered street signs have been popping up in Osaka or Kyoto over the last month. The eye-catching addendums are the work of French guerrilla artist Clet Abraham, who has done similar projects around the globe. While local residents are largely bemused, the police are not at all amused and are investigating whether charges can be filed.

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Panchira 2015: All-star creators, photographers and cosplayers assemble in a flash (of panties)!

As we’ve already seen photobooks and exhibitions dedicated to images of women wearing knee-high socks underwater and a calendar that simulates flipping up a skirt, it should come as no surprise that there is a photo exhibition dedicated to “panchira” (the Japanese term for “panty-shot“) opening in Tokyo next month.

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Self-taught Chinese street photographer captures all the right moments on camera

Tao Liu has a knack for capturing split-second moments that reveal funny configurations or striking parallels, and embody the essence of the hectic and haphazard Chinese streets where he and countless others live and work.

His work has gone viral in China, and is now spreading across the world thanks to people sharing his images across the net. Street photography is about capturing poignant and fleeting points in time, which say something about the human condition, even if that something cannot be put into words, and Tao Liu’s photographs speak across languages and cultures.

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Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon together? This talented artist says, “Yes!” 【Pics】

For most of us growing up in the US in the early 2000s, there was one thing we looked forward to after school: episodes of Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon. While DBZ glued us to the TV with its excruciatingly long but always awesome fight scenes, Sailor Moon gave us powerful girls with prism power. These shows were the gateway to the land of anime, where love, sacrifice and training for more power had us positively transfixed for more hours than I’d care to count.

Is it any wonder that there is an entire fandom dedicated to Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon crossovers? What’s the story behind the Saiyans and the Sailor Soldiers? Do these two series secretly belong together? Find out this time on Dragon Sailor Ball Soldiers…Z!

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Bad Disney girls: Fan artist reimagines princesses as the seven deadly sins

While I was growing up, my family never got that involved in the discussion over whether the idolization of Disney princesses is a healthy thing or not. With three boys and no girls in the family, most of my parents’ time was instead channeled towards more immediate topics like telling their sons not to aim for the face during their regular battles in the backyard with their stockpiled arsenal of plastic battleaxes and broadswords.

As an adult, I can sort of understand both sides of the debate. On one hand, a little fantasizing seems harmless, and in and of itself, there’s nothing inherently wrong with little girls being drawn to such trappings of the princess lifestyle as a luxurious home and elegant clothes. On the other hand, criticisms about overemphasizing the value of comfort and beauty have some validity too, as if left unchecked those desires can turn into sloth and vanity.

As a matter of fact, one talented artist thinks Disney’s leading ladies make excellent stand-ins for all of the seven deadly sins.

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Japan’s amazing Excel artist wishes everyone a happy new year using the spreadsheet program

All through high school and for the first part of college, I didn’t use Microsoft Word, or any dedicated word processing software, for that matter, to write my reports. Instead, I did everything using Lotus 1-2-3, a spreadsheet program.

While that might sound incredibly inconvenient, it actually wasn’t too bad. Having a dad who’s an accountant and was well-versed in the program was a big help, but once I got the hang of it, I could produce written reports just about as easily as my Word-equipped classmates.

Still, my spreadsheet skills aren’t in the same league as Japanese artist Tatsuo Horiuchi, who’s been making beautiful landscapes and portraits with Microsoft Excel for years, including a New Year’s card that’s just as cute as any made with paint and brush.

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Your nail art may be cute, but is it Kabuki-cute? New style trend begins with 100 yen stickers

Nail art is something that’s increasingly popular among Japan’s ladies due to the fact that it’s an easy way to express your individual style. As well as DIY-ing it at home with 100 yen store nail polishes and nail stickers, you can also get reasonably affordable yet super-durable gel manicures in a salon which are set by UV light and last for at least a month. Nail art trends tend to come and go depending on the season and whatever’s in style, but occasionally there’s a “boom” for a certain kind of design, with more and more people jumping on the bandwagon. First came anime nail art, and now it’s the turn of traditional Japanese performance art, Kabuki!

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Did samurai use armoured cats and mice in battle?

The beautiful and imposing samurai armour from the Warring States period (sengoku jidai) still fascinates people today, and there are historians who have dedicated their lives to finding out as much about ancient warfare as possible. We know that warriors often rode horseback, but did samurai also use armoured cats and mice in their epic battles?!

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Dirty Car Art is the perfect excuse not to wash your car ever again

Have you ever doodled in the dirt on your car before you finally got around to washing it? Or perhaps when you were younger you wrote something rude in the dust on the neighbour’s rear window? American artist Scott Wade took his doodling many steps further and now creates this stunning Dirty Car Art that you’d never want to wash off.

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Shohei Otomo brings the gritty side of Japan to vivid life with a mere ballpoint pen

Shohei Otomo can sometimes be found simply under the working name “Shohei.” That might possibly have been an effort to downplay his heritage, because when your father is responsible for some of the most influential manga and anime ever it can be hard to get looked at as an individual.

However, outside of a certain degree of edginess and high degree of Akira and Domu, creator Katsuhiro Otomo and his son each stand alone with their respective arts. Shohei has the unique gift of creating a provocative illustration using only a ballpoint with such a level of detail and texture that you can get lost in them.

He’s posted a series of time-lapse YouTube videos showing him at his craft which is a spectacle almost as impressive as the drawings themselves.

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Mastered origami? Try the next traditional Japanese paper art: kirie!【Photos】

Most people who have a fondness for Japan have encountered origami at one point or another. It’s certainly one of the most famous of the Japanese paper arts and the origami crane carries so much more meaning than a simple piece of paper.

Another Japanese art that utilizes the complexities of paper is kirie, or paper cutting art. All it takes is a craft knife, a little dedication and free time and you can turn a black piece of paper into a stand-out work of art. Looking for a new hobby this winter vacation? Look no further than kirie!

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See? Not all My Little Pony fan art is erotic fan fic! Anime-loving MLP fans pony-fy anime stars

Artistic talent, creativity and pop culture geekery seem to overlap way more than to call it all a coincidence. Super fandom in one or another or more pop culture franchises seems to inspire a lot of creative energy.

This would all seem to fly in the face of everyone’s disappointed parents who insist we stop wasting our lives and talents on video games and go out and get a job. No, no, go out and get a real job instead of just bloggertweeting about Japanese anime and cats and OKAY MOM I HEARD YOU THE FIRST HUNDRED TIMES!

Anyway, the point of this meandering lede is that some My Little Pony fans (possibly the much-talked about Bronies and possibly their female counterparts… My Little Pony fans?) have been doing a pretty swell job of turning their favorite anime characters into MLP characters and we thought we’d share some:

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Naruto fans turn message maker system’s interface lemons into ninja lemonade with awesome artwork

Manga artist Masashi Kishimoto’s ninja saga Naruto finally came to a close last month. But after 15 years of being on the receiving end of the awesome artwork and heartfelt words of the Naruto cast, fans now have a chance to send some of their own with a nifty message-writing tool on the franchise’s official website.

Unfortunately, it isn’t very user-friendly. But just like how Naruto’s titular blond ninja never gives up in the face of adversity, so too have fans found a way to work around the clunky interface and come up with some powerfully cool creations.

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