crafts

Samurai Toothpicks with bite-sized language lessons will help you look and sound like a swordsman

If you watch a lot of samurai movies or TV shows, you might have noticed that a toothpick is about as common a costume accessory as a set of paired swords. The reason isn’t because samurai were particularly fastidious about dental hygiene, though. Many fictional samurai stories re set in the Edo period, when the end of Japan’s centuries of civil war caused the warrior class’ power and prestige to begin slowly but surely eroding.

The samurai were a prideful bunch, though, and were loath to admit the new societal reality that swordsman had suddenly become a far less lucrative profession. So even if they couldn’t afford to regularly fill their stomachs, many would still lodge a toothpick between their teeth to give the impression that they’d just polished off a lavish meal fit for a man of high rank.

Of course, it takes more than just a toothpick to transform yourself into a samurai. You’ll also need to talk the talk, which is why these traditionally made Japanese toothpicks come individually wrapped with period-correct samurai phrases, and even helpful English translations and pronunciation guides.

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Amazing 3-D printing pen 3Doodler gets a cheaper, slimmer version and workshops in Tokyo 【Video】

About a year ago, we took a look at the 3Doodler, an amazing crafting tool developed by U.S.-based WobbleWorks. Described as a 3-D printing pen, the 3Doodler uses plastic filament to let you draw in mid-air, creating physical objects instead of flat images.

Now we know what you’re all thinking: Where are those 3-D printed Mr. Sato statues we talked about making in our previous article? Well, it turns out we don’t actually have the artistic skills to properly capture the likeness of the head of RocketNews24’s Vice-President of Craziness. Oh, and also we’re cheap.

Thankfully, it looks like there’s a way to solve both of those problems. The updated 3Doodler 2.0 is easier to handle and less expensive than the original model, and there’s even a series of  upcoming workshops in Tokyo that’ll teach you how to get started drawing three-dimensional works of art.

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Now you can be the coolest ninja on the block with these awesome origami shuriken

Origami is known worldwide as the art of paper-folding, and while most people associate it with Japanese culture, it also has history in China and Europe as well. We’re not sure what it is, but there is something strangely satisfying about turning a flat piece of paper into a three-dimensional model resembling anything from flowers to animals to vehicles.

One particularly fun shape to make are ninja throwing-stars, like the ones you see above. If you’re in the mood for some crafts and would like to give it a try, follow us after the jump to get started!

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“Pop” daruma dolls so popular you’ll have to wait three years to get one

Daruma are a kind of roly-poly wishing doll in Japanese Buddhism. You draw one eye in while making a wish, and then fill in the other when your wish comes true. Given their sweet purpose and blob-like shape, traditional daruma are already pretty charming, but a woodcarving shop in Kagawa Prefecture has found a pop makeover makes them even more attractive, so much so that there is a 3-year waiting list to get one!

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Watch this Genesis of Aquarion Zessica Wong figure transform into a Dragon Quest pilgrim figure

Do you like figures? Do you ever wish you could make your own? Well, we can’t help you actually make a figure, but we can show you how one skilled amateur figure crafter turned the Genesis of Aquarion Zessica Wong figure above into a female pilgrim from Dragon Quest.

Check out his explanation, complete with photos, below.

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Pure-gold traditional Japanese coins might just be the Star Wars collectibles you’re looking for

We recently took a look at some Star Wars-themed gogatsu ningyo, the decorative dolls families with young sons place in their homes on May 5. But what if you don’t have kids? Is there still a way to combine your love of Star Wars with some high-end Japanese traditional craftwork?

There sure is, in the form of traditional Japanese gold coins bearing the mark of the Imperial Military and the silhouette of its most famous commander, Darth Vader himself.

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Origami at the dinner table! How to make cranes and doggies out of your chopstick sheath

Ramen joints and other cheap restaurants in Japan often just leave a container of chopsticks out on the table for customers to grab a pair from. Classier dining establishments, however, set the table with a pair of chopsticks for each guest tucked inside of a paper chopstick sheath, called a hashibukuro in Japanese.

But what do you do once you’ve pulled your chopsticks out of the cover? You could leave the empty sheath lying on the table, or, seeing as how you’re sitting in a Japanese restaurant with a piece of paper, you could use it to make some cool origami art.

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Who needs a real Apple Watch when you can wear this cuter one made of felt?

Watches are, oddly enough, a timeless accessory. Kids wear them, adults do too, and grandparents hand them down as family heirlooms. This has been going on for centuries, and even nowadays people go nuts for cute watches, fancy watches, and now, smart watches.

With the recent announcement of the Apple Watch people are preparing their wrists and their wallets for the new meeting of fashion and technology. Even tech whiz kids, dare we say “Smart Kids,” want in on the action, but some people, like artist Hiné Mizushima, don’t really see the need for kids to have real Apple Watches, so she created a clever and adorable felt alternative.

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Otaku’s mom finds out about his anime doll obsession, sews a set of Love Live! costumes for them

The tricky thing about social media is that announcing your passions to the world, by its nature, means you’re also announcing them to relatives and acquaintances you’d maybe rather keep in the dark regarding some of your more unusual pastimes. That’s why Twitter user Shitaraki Kongo set up his account and does his tweeting in a way that he hopes will obscure his true identity.

Nevertheless, his mom eventually managed to tie her son to the account, and his secret was revealed. That Kongo is an anime fan isn’t such a big deal, and given the current trends in the industry, the fact that he’s enjoying high school idol series Love Live! probably wasn’t a huge shock either.

Kongo is on the fringe of even otaku culture, though, as he’s also really into collecting posable dolls and dressing them up like the Love Live! cast. Odds are he was feeling pretty awkward when his mother discovered all this, but instead of disowning him out of embarrassment, dear old Mom instead grabbed a needle and made some new threads for her son’s anime crushes.

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How to double the value of your $10 car: Spend 30 minutes adding racing stripes!

Some of you may remember the fateful day last spring when our Japanese-language reporter Go bought what was probably the cheapest car in Japan by acquiring his current ride for just 980 yen (US $8.30). Nine months later, not only is his 1997 Mitsubishi Minica still firing on all three cylinders under its hood, but it recently passed its mandatory biennial safety inspection, called shaken in Japanese.

In celebration, Go treated the Minica to a wash for the first time since he drove it back to Tokyo from Nagoya. With a fresh coat of wax, it was looking better than ever, but Go still wasn’t 100-percent satisfied with the car’s appearance. See, Go believes the Mini is just an overall cooler car than the Minica, so he set out to transform the latter into the former using the finest vinyl sheets and magic markers he could find.

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Kumiko: The exquisitely delicate side of traditional Japanese woodwork

A few weeks ago we introduced you to the world of traditional Japanese woodwork, a technique that uses no nails or hardware, just precise joints, to keep furniture and even buildings together. This technique is also used to create intricate, wooden, functional artwork, known as kumiko, which is used within Japanese style-rooms to create a stunning atmosphere.

The traditional handicraft has been passed down for centuries, however, the trade is sadly dying out. In response, artisans are taking the age-old concept and applying the designs to more modern-day household items, such as chairs and lampshades. The results are nothing short of exquisite!

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Skilled Japanese artist creates intricate cut-paper origami cranes

Kiri-e (切り絵) is the Japanese art of hand-cutting paper into intricate designs. Kirigami (切り紙), on the other hand, involves cutting and folding paper to create a 3-D image that pops right off the page. But one talented Japanese artist has combined these two traditional art forms, creating folded paper cranes that contain a seemingly impossible-to-achieve cut-out design. Let’s take a closer look at her stunning artwork!

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Artist makes cool Gundam, tanks, and rifles out of Amazon boxes to show they’re all secretly cute

You can use the phrase “paper tiger” to describe someone or something that’s not as tough as it appears to be, but you could conjure up the same image just as easily with a different pair of words. For example, “cardboard tank” seems like it could serve the same linguistic purpose. So could “cardboard Gundam” or “cardboard M16,” for that matter.

But while those might not be as powerful as their original, non-cardboard forms, they are all incredibly awesome when made out of corrugated cardboard, as proven by the creations of artist Monami Ono, who makes all those and more out of cardboard boxes from Amazon.

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Web series’ anime arsenal expands with real-life version of Kill la Kill’s Scissor Blade【Video】

You really have to respect the skills of the team behind Man at Arms and its successor Man at Arms Reforged. It was impressive enough when the web series’ blacksmiths were taking on projects as iconic or massive as The Legend of Zelda’s Master Sword or Final Fantasy VII’s Masamune. The craftsmen have since moved on to even more complicated designs, such as the gunblade from Final Fantasy VIII and Fierce Deity Sword from Majora’s Mask.

Now, Man at Arms Reforged is back with what might be its most unique creation yet, the Scissor Blade from cult hit anime Kill la Kill, made from materials as unusual as the school supply inspiration of the weapon itself.

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The cat hairband, for when cat ears just aren’t enough

Earlier this month, the Internet was all abuzz over some awesome cat ear headphones. As creative as they may be, though, they’re really more robotic than feline in appearance, what with their glowing LED accents and external speakers.

If you’re more concerned with fashion than music, though, and you feel like you could do without all the cybernetic-style accouterments, one Japanese designer has put together an alternative form of cat-shaped headgear. Just to reiterate, that’s “cat-shaped,” not “cat ear-shaped,” since this hairband gives the illusion of an adorable kitten perched atop your head.

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In the name of the moon, I will marry you! Couple holds awesome Sailor Moon wedding in L.A.

A while back, we took a look at some Japanese wedding receptions that took cues from Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda and Konami’s Beatmania rhythm game. Japan isn’t the only place where fictional fandom and romantic nuptials cross paths, though.

This month, an American couple that seems to love Sailor Moon almost as much as they love each other took their vows, and not only are the outfits they wore for their ceremony the classiest cosplay we’ve seen in a long time, they’re just the beginning of the wedding’s many elegantly beautiful anime-inspired touches.

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Artist whittles perfect animal replicas out of wood, makes own pets suspicious

Making replicas of your pets using a variety of mediums including their own fur seems to be a fad that’s captured the hearts of some of the more natty crafters out there. Now, we’d like to introduce you to woodworking artist and sculptor Mio Hashimoto, whose carvings are almost perfect replicas of various animals including her own pet kitty and doggy (although we think they’re starting to become a tad suspicious…)

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Zelda hero Link’s other blade, the Fierce Deity Sword, brought to life in awesome video

While every game in Nintendo’s long-running Zelda franchise stars an elfish boy named Link who goes on a quest to save the world, each installment puts its own signature wrinkle on the formula. Wind Waker is the one with cel-shaded, storybook-like visuals. Twilight Princess is the one where Link can turn into a wolf.

And Majora’s Mask is the weird, dark one that would give little kids nightmares.

That’s not the sole distinction for title, though. Majora’s Mask is also the only place where you can see the awesome Fierce Deity Sword. Well, more accurately, it was the only place, since the awesome blade now exists in real life, too.

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Beautiful video of master Japanese doll craftsman is equal parts inspiring and relaxing

There’s something deeply satisfying about watching someone do their job incredibly well. Whether it’s a master chef putting together a mouth-watering meal, a talented musician making an instrument come to life, or a pro athlete performing at the highest level of the sport, you find yourself unable to look away, both because of how soothing watching things go perfectly is, and also for fear of missing whatever amazing feat they’re going to pull off next.

So if you’re craving that special mixture of relaxation and inspiration, take a few minutes to watch this video of a master craftsman transforming two hunks of wood into a beautiful kokeshi doll with a literally unique twist.

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A tiny, epic ode to Nintendo: Zelda and Super Mario 64’s worlds recreated as miniature dioramas

We all know that Japan does “small” well. Whether it’s microtechnology, tiny houses or bonsai, the Japanese are known for their dexterity and being attentive to the tiniest detail.

But a hobbyist and Niconico Douga user known simply as “A” takes attention to detail to a whole new level. In a homage to the three-dimensional worlds created by video game giants Nintendo, A has constructed an ultra-detailed diorama based on the first level of Nintendo 64 classic Super Mario 64 and even recreated the entire world map from The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time on a scale so small we could barely believe our eyes when we first saw it.

How small are we talking? Find out after the jump!

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