All posts by blogsonjapan

How Far Will You Go? An Exhibition of Grand Projects at 21_21 Design Sight

They did what? That’s right: they made a walkable floating pier from 100,000 sq meters of fabric; they’re building a church that’s 1.35 meters wide and 45 meters high; they made a cave entirely out of tape; they made an inflatable concert hall; he spent 96 hours creating a mural from mud. These are just some of the dynamic projects by Japanese and international artists that have been assembled for an ambitious exhibition at Tokyo’s 21_21 Design Sight.

Grand Projects: How Far Will You Go” opens tomorrow (June 23) at Tokyo’s 21_21 Design Sight. Directed by writer and editor Naoko Aono, the exhibition will honor the daring and the ambitious: “creators who give shape to their bold and innovative ideas that transcend existing modes of expressions.”

One reason that we are so fascinated by grand and over-the-top creativity is because of the many challenges they present: unending regulatory challenges, financial challenges, technical challenges and variable social circumstances. Then there is the meticulous planning and vast cooperation from others.

Obviously not all projects will be represented by the actual work. The Architect Junya Ishigami is not going to relocate his in-progress church that’s being built inside the ravine of a mountain. Christo and Jeanne-Claude are not bringing their floating pier, along with Lake Iseo, to Tokyo. These projects will be represented by photo-documentation, sketches and video. But Yusuke Asai did spend 96 hours creating a mud mural, Tatzu Nishino did install a series of capsule hotels within the gallery that will be functional, and art collective Numen/For Use did create a cavernous installation made from vinyl tape.

If you’re in Tokyo it’s worth checking out. “Grand Projects: How Far Will You Go” will run from June 23 – October 1, …continue reading


One in five Japanese have recently used a launderette

Have you used a launderette within the last year? graph of japanese statistics

With the rainy season starting, and given that drying clothes on one’s balcony is common, but washing machines with drier functions are relatively rare, this seems an ideal time to ask about usage of launderettes, in a survey conducted by Orange Page, a recipie magazine aimed at housewives in their thirties and forties.

I’ve not been to a launderette per se, but a couple of months ago in a hotel I used their laundry corner, where they had what looked like souped-up domestic Sharp machines that not just both washed and dried but also automatically added powder and softener.

Here’s a rather grim-looking launderette:

Research results

Q1: Have you used a launderette in the last year? (Sample size=1,190)

Yes (to SQ) 20.3%
No 79.7%

When asked about their image of launderettes, the top three reasons from users of them according to Q1 were that one can wash a large load all at once, 56.6%, convenience, 41.7% and cheaper than sending them to the cleaners, 39.7%. From non-users, the top three reasons were that one can wash a large load all at once, 43.4%, a bother to go to one, 40.9%, and a feeling of uncleanliness, 37.7%

Q1SQ: Why do you use a launderette? (Sample size=242, multiple answer, top five)

Can wash large items that are difficult to do at home 66.5%
Cheaper than sending items to a cleaner 30.2%
Can wash and dry clothes on rainy days 28.9%
Can wash a large load at once 23.1%
Quick 16.9%

Q2: What concerns you regarding washing clothes during the rainy season? (Sample size=1,190, multiple answer)

Takes time to dry clothes 73.7%
Smell of drip-drying washing inside 65.6%
Cannot get clothes completely dry 50.7%
Mold growth encouraged by drip-drying inside 49.7%
Damp atmosphere due to drip-drying washing inside 49.2%
Cannot wash big items like blankets 45.8%
Eletricity bill for air conditioner, dehumidifier 22.9%
Other 1.6%


Between the 27th of April and the 7th of May 2015 1,190 members of the Orange Page monitor group completed a private …continue reading


World’s First Tatami-Style Starbucks to Open in Kyoto

a noren curtain hangs outside the new Kyoto Starbucks location

Starbucks first international market outside of North America began in Tokyo in 1996 and now with 1,100 stores across the country, Japan is Starbucks 4th largest market globally. Now, after 21 years, they’re opening the world’s first tatami-style Starbucks in Kyoto on June 30, 2017.

the first floor bar counter

The new location will be located along the historic Ninenzaka street, which leads directly to Kiyomizu-dera, one of Kyoto’s most popular shrines. And the coffee shop will be located inside a 100-year old traditional Japanese townhouse. Beginning with the noren at the entrance and extending into the 1st and 2nd floors, every effort has been taken to retain much of the charm of the historic structure. In fact, among the many historic townhouses that are situated along this path, this is the only one that retains its original daibei walled-fence.

The ground level will have a bar counter and 3 courtyards, each with gardens and unique stone water basins, known as tsukubai. On the 2nd floor will be 3 rooms where visitors will remove their shoes and sit on tatami mats with zabuton coushins while enjoying their beverage.

Starbucks Coffee Kyoto Ninenzaka Yasaka Tea Parlor (Map)
Hours: 8:00am – 8:00pm
Grand opening on 6/30/2017 at 1:00pm

a narrow path leads back to one of the three courtyards

one of the three tatami-style rooms on the 2nd floor

the historic Ninenzaka road

the historic townhouse, …continue reading


Is Abe securing or threatening Japan’s peace and democracy?

Authors: Sebastian Maslow, Kobe University and Christian Wirth, Griffith University

Despite his involvement in a series of political scandals, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe remains unscathed. And with a firm grip on power, his Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) has shifted its focus away from economic reform towards conservatives’ long-cherished goal of constitutional revision to allow for the use of military force abroad while increasing executive power at the expense of civil rights at home.Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe attends a news conference after close of regular parliament session at his official residence in Tokyo, Japan, 19 June 2017. (Photo: Reuters/Toru Hanai).

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Celebrating the 70th anniversary of Japan’s post-war constitution on 3 May, Abe took it upon himself to revise the document. To temper public opposition against changing the war-renouncing Article 9, the LDP has in recent parliamentary deliberations pledged to dispense a host of new social benefits. Abe has also used recurring North Korean missile tests and simmering maritime disputes to create a sense of urgency and prompt public acceptance of constitutional revision before 2020. And yet, despite or precisely because of heightened military tensions, the public remains divided. Many fear for Japan’s post-war pacifist legacy and democracy.

But as constitutional revision remains a long-term objective, …continue reading


Kyoto’s 30th Summer Antiquarian Book Fair

Source: deep kyoto

This year’s Summer Antiquarian Book Fair will be held from August 11th – 16th from 10.00 till 17.30 (until 16.00) on the last day. As always it will be held under the trees of Tadasu no Mori woods which are just in front of Shimogamo Jinja Shrine. Though this book fair takes place at the hottest time of the year it is always noticeably cooler under the shade of those ancient trees. And though most of the books on sale are Japanese, there are usually a large amount of English books in there, as well as art books, prints, and old photographs. I wrote previously about a visit to this event here.

This is the 30th year of the book fair and the 40th anniversary of the founding of Kyoto’s Antiquarian Book Society. As is now traditional, the flyer for the book fair has been designed by local artist Nakagawa Non, and as usual she has done a sterling job of it! You can view more of her artworks here:

This is the 2nd of three annual book fairs held each spring, summer, and autumn in Kyoto. If you can’t make it this time around, there will be another fair from November 1st – 5th at the Chion Temple near Hyakumanben. Here are the details for the summer fair:

Summer Antiquarian Book Fair (August 11 – 16)
10:00 – 17:30 (until 16:00 on the last day)
Access: Kyoto City Bus #205, get off at Shimogamo-jinja-mae (map)
Tel: 075 231 2971
Link (Japanese)

…continue reading