art

Artists use SD cards and Febreeze to create Japanese crests for the modern age

Artists use SD cards and Febreeze to create Japanese crests for the modern age

There’s a lot of art enmeshed in everyday Japanese life. From the pictographs of the kanji writing system to the aesthetics of traditional practices, it’s easy to take for granted the visual symbolism on which a lot of the culture is based. One of the most striking examples of Japanese design is the kamon, or family crest, used for centuries to signify a family name or clan and often seen on the sleeves of formal kimonos and ceramic roof tiles of traditional homes. It’s estimated that there are as many as 30,000 family crests in Japan, and while many Japanese would struggle to identify a large number of them, some crests, such as the chrysanthemum Imperial crest and the Tokugawa shogunate hollyhock design, are easy to identify.

Artists are now using the digital medium to create a number of new kamon to the delight of netizens nationwide. What makes these unique is the fact that the images inside the crest are not flowers or scenes of nature but more modern logos and tools familiar to us through advertising and the digital age. The crest above, for example, might look like a cross design made up of four stylised rectangles, but if you look closely you’ll see something more commonly used in digital cameras: SD memory cards. Featuring everything from Twitter logos to Febreeze bottles, these unique crests are perfect for the tribes of today.

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The 2014 Sapporo Snow Festival【Photo Gallery】

The 2014 Sapporo Snow Festival【Photo Gallery】

Last year we brought you a firsthand account of the 2013 Sapporo Snow Festival, with more images of snow and ice sculptures than you can get your tongue stuck to. This year, we’re sad to say we couldn’t make it out to the annual event up in Japan’s northernmost prefecture, so we’ve been living vicariously through Twitter users. Some of the images we’ve seen are too good not to share, so we decided to give you a little taste of the snow festival through the following gallery of images from Twitter.

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Beautiful website catalogues some of Japan’s most ornate manhole covers

Beautiful website catalogues some of Japan’s most ornate manhole covers

In most countries, you’d never give a manhole cover a second glance. But in Japan, the designs on those metal disks encircled by cement are surprisingly ornate. Most are so beautiful, you’ll have to be careful not to spend the entire day looking at the ground. Now people all over the world can enjoy Japan’s stompable artwork thanks to Hirake! Manhole, a brand new website showcasing manhole cover art across Japan.

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Artist depicts beloved video game Katamari Damacy in traditional Japanese ukiyo-e style

Artist depicts beloved video game Katamari Damacy in traditional Japanese ukiyo-e style

Regular readers will no doubt know that we at RocketNews24 love video games. And as anyone with a pair of eyes in their head can tell from a quick glance at our site, we live and breathe Japan and Asia as a whole. So when we stumbled upon these works of art, which combine traditional Japanese woodblock printing and one of our favourite games ever, Katamari Damacy, we simply had to share them with you.

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Hey, you kids! Get off my Gundam lawn!

Hey, you kids! Get off my Gundam lawn!

A few years back, toymaker Bandai built a gigantic full-size statue of Japan’s most iconic giant robot, the original RX-78 Gundam. After bouncing around and being displayed in various stages of assembly, the 1:1 scale figure finally found a permanent home in front of the Diver City shopping and restaurant complex in Tokyo, assuring that fans can come see it whenever they like, and also that it’ll get regular maintenance.

We’re glad to see someone is looking out for Gundam in the nation’s capital, since apparently the years haven’t been as kind to this version of him in the Japanese countryside.

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Unusual flat-pack daruma voted Japan’s most fascinating souvenir

Unusual flat-pack daruma voted Japan’s most fascinating souvenir

If you’re looking for a unique Japanese gift that’s light in your luggage but heavy in tradition, then this is the item for you. It’s called the KD Daruma (Knock-Down Daruma) and it’s modelled on the centuries-old, round, good-luck talisman which symbolises Bodhidharma, the founder of the Zen sect of Buddhism. This modern take on the daruma features a flat-pack design and clever assembly so unusual it’s just been awarded first prize as Japan’s most fascinating souvenir in a competition held by the Japan Tourism Agency. We take a closer look at the details to see what makes this little novelty so charming.

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Plastic surgery clinic in Seoul makes art out of patients’ jaw bones

Plastic surgery clinic in Seoul makes art out of patients’ jaw bones

You like sausage, right? Of course you do. But no one ever wants to see how the sausage is made. So why did this plastic surgery clinic in Seoul think it was a good idea to display two towering columns filled with the jaw bones of their past patients? It’s enough to make you rethink your pursuit of the perfect chin.

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Dogo Onsen to exhibit works by famous artists in Japan, let you spend the night in them

Dogo Onsen to exhibit works by famous artists in Japan, let you spend the night in them

At Dogo Onsen in Matsuyama City, Ehime Prefecture, 2014 marks the 120th anniversary of the spa’s main building which stands as a notable landmark of the area. It’s a majestic and traditional building that some say was the inspiration for the bathhouse in Spirited Away.

To celebrate, the surrounding area will be hosting a large scale art exhibition in which the Onsen’s main building and at least ten other hotels and inns will be transformed into works by various modern artists. The actual event will run from 10 April to 31 December of this year, but a sneak peak was held from December of last year involving five prominent Japanese artists: Fujio Ishimoto, Yayoi Kusama, Shuntaro Tanikawa, Akira Minagawa, and Araki Nobuyoshi.

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Japan’s top souvenir recommendations for foreigners, from sweets to swords

Japan’s top souvenir recommendations for foreigners, from sweets to swords

Japanese culture is filled with gift giving, and no gift is more common than the omiyage. Usually translated as “souvenir,” omiyage is a bit broader in usage, encompassing all sorts of travel gift situations. Taking a trip somewhere? Make sure to bring back omiyage for your coworkers. Have friends coming from overseas? You might want to give them some omiyage to remember their trip by. And of course, if those same friends offer to show you around their country, it’s only polite to bring them an omiyage as a show of thanks, if you take them up on their offer.

But what kind of Japanese omiyage from Japan is most likely to be a hit with foreigners? Japanese Internet users offered the following suggestions.

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Talented artist imagines what Game of Thrones would look like in feudal Japan

Talented artist imagines what Game of Thrones would look like in feudal Japan

Having learned the hard way that some TV series exist simply to keep viewers hanging for years (yes, Lost, I am looking at you), I have to admit that I gave the TV adaptation of Game of Thrones a wide berth for quite some time after it first aired. A few months and the contraction of a very nasty cold later, I found myself in bed with a heap of medication, a DVD box-set and little else to do. By the time I was back on my feet, I was a huge fan of the series (and may have run “Game of Thrones blonde girl” through Google a couple of times) and swallowed, along with the last of the medicine, my usual stubborn pride by telling friends that I was ready to join in their nerdy conversations and even read the books that they had all finished with years ago.

Little did I know, though, that the TV show could be made all the more awesome by recreating some of its more memorable scenes in the style of Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints, with all of my favourite characters looking like they reside in feudal Japan rather than Westeros.

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Sailor Moon fan art: Often baffling, sometimes terrifying, and occasionally both

Sailor Moon fan art: Often baffling, sometimes terrifying, and occasionally both

Like many people, we’re happy about the recent announcement that the new Sailor Moon series will finally debut this July, and are keeping our fingers crossed that the third time is indeed the charm for the release date of the twice-delayed project. All the same, we’re getting a little impatient, not the least because the upcoming anime’s producers have yet to release so much as a single promotional sketch for it.

It’s gotten to the point that in order to sate our desire for Sailor Moon imagery, we’ve had to turn our attention to non-official creations. But while a few months ago we stumbled across some amateur drawings that looked so professional we mistook them for the real deal, we found out that the quality of Sailor Moon fan-art isn’t always as high as the enthusiasm of the fans behind it.

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Fan makes detailed clay figure of Hayao Miyazaki, even his cigarettes look life-like

Fan makes detailed clay figure of Hayao Miyazaki, even his cigarettes look life-like

Hayao Miyazaki has created some of anime’s more memorable characters, winning legions of fans all around the world. As such you would imagine that along with the thousands of pieces of fan art, an aspiring sculptor somewhere would pick up the gauntlet and recreate some of them in three dimensions.

One sculptor answered that call, and set out to make the ultimate Ghibli character from clay: Mr. Miyazaki himself… We hear his friends say he’s “a real character.”

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Waterlogue app turns ordinary photos of Japan into beautiful works of art

Waterlogue app turns ordinary photos of Japan into beautiful works of art

Japanese Twitter and Instagram users have discovered Waterlogue, an app that allows you to “transform your photos into luminous watercolors,” and now there is an endless surge of ordinary images turned artsy photos on both sites. We’re not sure if the following examples can be considered art since they were created with a few clicks of an index finger, but they are beautiful nonetheless.

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See a Tokyo from the past as you’ve never seen before — in vivid colors and brushstrokes!

See a Tokyo from the past as you’ve never seen before — in vivid colors and brushstrokes!

Before the capital city of Tokyo was given its current name in the late 1800s, it was known as Edo and served as the seat of power for the Tokugawa shogunate. The era now referred to as the Edo Period effectively ended with the last Tokugawa shogun Yoshinobu Tokugawa relinquishing power to Emperor Meiji in 1867, thus drawing the age of the shoguns to a close. However, we were pleasantly surprised to find a collection of vivid paintings depicting Tokyo sometime after the end of the Edo Period but still strongly reminiscent of a past era when the city was called by its former name. Quite interestingly, these paintings happen to be the work of an American artist who travelled to Japan near the end of the 19th century. So, come join us and take a look at Tokyo through the eyes of a foreign visitor to Japan over 120 years ago. It’s certainly nothing like the Tokyo we know today!

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Cappucino art that’s out of this world: Twitter cappuccino artist shows off his extraterrestrial skills

Cappucino art that’s out of this world: Twitter cappuccino artist shows off his extraterrestrial skills

We’ve seen some pretty cool latte art over the years, but this might be the most, um, unusual we’ve spotted. It’s not exactly cute, but it certainly is out of this world!

From aliens to bunnies to Ghibli’s Catbus, this guy does it all in 3-D foam sculptures atop cups of coffee!

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Ugoita fashions musical umbrellas and game cartridges for your low-fi pleasure

Ugoita fashions musical umbrellas and game cartridges for your low-fi pleasure

A white Christmas in Osaka is a rare thing and this year was no exception. All week has been back-to-back rainy days – par for the course in this neck of the world. If you happen to live in a similar climate, then these cold and damp days might have you feeling a little bummed out.

To help turn your mood around is a cute little invention by Ugoita. This umbrella has sensors attached that convert the impact of raindrops into tones. However, that’s just one of many unique electronic creations that worked.

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Mind-blowing customized PC impossible to use, beautiful to behold

Mind-blowing customized PC impossible to use, beautiful to behold

In modding communities of all kinds, there has always been the age-old debate of whether form or function carries more importance. There are plenty of car enthusiasts, for example, who are happy to mod their ride with dozens of cosmetic upgrades that do nothing for performance.

PC modder and artist Hirohito Ikeuchi is happy, apparently, to ignore function altogether, as this steampunk military-themed customized PC proves. The attention to detail in the modded PC is astounding, with life-like figures in fighting poses among steampunk mechs, tanks and even palm trees.

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Offstage: Take a peek into the real lives of cosplayers! 【Photos】

Offstage: Take a peek into the real lives of cosplayers! 【Photos】

Cosplay is arguably the most popular subculture in Japan. While the costume play community has seen an explosive growth across the globe in recent years, many “normal” people still tend to look at those engaging in the activity with judging eyes; some even think that they’re “weird” for wanting to dress up like their heroes. But the truth is, beneath the elaborate costumes, cosplayers are just as normal as any one of us.

We’ve seen cosplayers without their costumes, but photographer Ching Yee Tan takes a step further by showing us a glimpse of their private lives. If you’ve ever wondered what a hardcore cosplayer’s room looks like, this is your chance to take a peek into one!

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We wish Pokemon trees were real

We wish Pokemon trees were real

Just image hundreds of tiny Pikachu leaves raining down on a breezy fall afternoon. Wouldn’t it be awesome? Although science hasn’t come anywhere close to bringing us the tree of our dreams, we can still admire the work of user jakeacarter who posted six different “natural Pokemon” made out of leaves.

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Chinese artists create amazing physical representation of mother’s ideal vision of the afterlife

Chinese artists create amazing physical representation of mother’s ideal vision of the afterlife

Sunyuan and Pengyu are a team of Beijing-based installation artists. The duo has been active since the late ‘90s, working their way up to solo exhibitions starting in 2005.

This year, Paris’ Galerie Perrotin gallery hosted an exhibit by the pair titled “Dear.” Among the works on display was a deeply personal installation inspired by the mother of one of the artists.

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