Tag Archives: japanese


In post-war Japan, cities victim to firebombings were left in a state of ruin and despair. But in the wake of devastation, some Japanese architects optimistically saw opportunity; they saw a chance to prove the country’s resilience, rebuild their cultural identity, and transform the nation into an improved version of its previous self. During this period of time, the influential architectural movement known as Metabolism was born, revolving around the concepts of organic growth and megastructures. The idea was that buildings didn’t have to be static; instead, they could be ever-changing, adapting and transforming according to different needs. One of the most iconic buildings of the movement—the Nakagin Capsule Tower—can still be found today in Tokyo’s Ginza District. Built by the famous architect Kisho Kurokawa, the unique structure consists of 140 removable capsules plugged into two concrete cores and is the main subject of Noritaka Minami’s photo book 1972, named after the year that the building was officially completed.


Noritaka Minami is a Japanese-born and America-raised photographer who only began documenting the building in 2010. At the time, there was a sense of urgency to complete the project. “There was a very real possibility that it would be demolished and replaced with a more ‘conventional’ apartment complex,” says Minami. “As of today, the building does not face imminent destruction, but still faces a very uncertain future in regards to its preservation.” The building was experimental, a prototype that sought to explore the possibilities of alternative methods of urban living in the future. Through his photos, Minami wants to offer viewers an opportunity to see the past’s interpretation of the future.


“Each capsule is a container that has accumulated all of the moves and decisions that were performed by individuals over the course of four decades,” says Minami. “Although I do not directly depict the resident who occupies that space, I want each photograph to suggest that the capsule holds the history and presence of people who occupy or have occupied that space.” With respect to the inhabitants, his photographs are completely documentary in nature; objects, furnishings, and light were photographed as it were without any alterations on his part.


Shot on both medium and large-format cameras with an ultra-wide lens, Minami’s collection of images captures the nuances of each ten square meter living space, revealing the the ways each resident has adapted to the living conditions. “The limited space of a capsule also influences the amount of belongings each resident can possess, more so than a conventional apartment,” Minami mused. The restricted space of each capsule often leads to the majority of an inhabitant’s worldly belongings to sit out in plain view; To this effect, Minami saw each pod as an extension of each resident’s personality. “From a very early point in its history, the criticism against the Capsule Tower was that the individual units are too small and not flexible enough for everyday use,” he says. “Yet, the fact that these small rooms are still being occupied to this day demonstrate the residents’ ability to find new and unexpected applications within the limited area of ten square meters that go beyond the original vision of the building as urban homes for businessmen.”


As the Nagakin Capsule Tower is a private building, gaining access can be rather difficult for non-residents. “The project was only possible through the generosity of the couple that first allowed me to visit their capsule during the summer of 2010,” Minami explained. Many of the photographs in the book were made possible through the couple’s acquaintances in the building. By luck, Minami eventually met others in the building who granted him permission to document their pods, offering a candid glimpse into their living space.


During the time that Minami worked the project, the people that chose to live in the building came from all walks of life, ranging from a young local art student attending university to a construction worker in his sixties. What attracted each resident was different: some were interested in its historical significance, some were curious about living in an unconventionally built structure, and others lived there for practical reasons like convenience and affordability. Although many residents are in favor of preserving the building, aware of its history and cultural significance, there are some residents who aren’t as keen, seeing the potential of maximizing the prime real estate that the building sits on by replacing it with a newer apartment.


Minami’s book was finally published last year, made possible with a successful Kickstarter campaign and a grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. “The idea of presenting this project as a photo book attracted me because the format could show more photographs than what is normally possible within the physical space of a gallery,” he explained. “Designing the book also presented challenges and possibilities that are different from designing an exhibition. I learned a lot by creating the specific selection and sequence of images in order for the series to be experienced as a book.” 1972 is now available online through Amazon and other select retailers.




Contributor: David Yen
Images Courtesy of Kana Kawanishi Art Gallery



寄稿人: David Yen
Images Courtesy of Kana Kawanishi Art Gallery

Japan, Pixelated

Since 2011, Japanese illustrator Toyoi Yuuta has been posting animated GIFs on his Tumblr under the moniker 1041uuu. Finding beauty in simplicity, he’s translated his vision of life in Japan into gorgeously animated pixel art. The highly approachable style of his pixel art has allowed his work to be widely praised and shared by netizens from all over the world. At the same time, Generation Xers, millennials, and gaming enthusiasts are able to more deeply appreciate the nostalgic qualities of his retro aesthetics.


Originally born in Fukushima, Toyoi is currently based out of Kyoto, preferring the quiet pace of life there compared to the sensory overload of Tokyo, where he had previously lived for six years. In those six years, Toyoi found solace and inspiration in different aspects of the Tokyo that many might not immediately associate with the city, such as its rivers. “I think I’ve been influenced by the unique rivers of all the cities I’ve lived in. In particular, Tokyo’s Sumida River had a profound impact on me,” he says. From a cityscape reflected on the rippling surface of a river to koi fish idly lazing beneath a lotus leaf-covered pond, water makes frequent appearances in Toyoi’s work and is often one of the most noticeable animated elements.


Another big influence for Toyoi is the popular arcade-style fighting game, The King of Fighters. The different two-dimensional background scenes in the game clearly lends inspiration for his animated GIFs. These in-game backgrounds range from forests with falling rain and leaves fluttering in the wind to industrial settings with machinery bellowing out clouds of steam. Some other scenes might depict more mundane moments of city life, such as lovers interacting in the background and blinking traffic lights. These little moments stuck in an infinite loop fascinated Toyoi. “To an art geek like me, these elements sparked something within me and I became interested in these realistic backdrops,” he says. Similar to the aesthetics of The King of Fighters and other retro fighting games, animating select details in a mostly still frame has become the trademark of Toyoi’s work.


For many artists, figuring out how to make sustainable income while pursuing their creative vision can be problematic, and Toyoi isn’t an exception. He revealed that his initial decision to create pixel art was in part due to to the restrictive nature of the tools he had access to. “I was poor and unemployed. I didn’t have a pen tablet and only had a PC track pad. But to create pixel art, I don’t need a high-resolution computer or much special knowledge and training,” he recalled. Despite garnering high praise for his GIFs, the popularity of his work still hasn’t translated into any money-making opportunities. “I still don’t have any money at the moment, so I’m trying to sell some of my artwork now,” Toyoi candidly admitted. “I’m looking into selling silkscreen prints in the near future.”


Introverted by nature, Toyoi tells us that people aren’t of much interest to him. Instead, his interests lie in the intangible, such as the feelings and smells of a place, holding the belief that these are the elements that truly make up the essence of a city. “The world is filled with rules that aren’t explicitly written out, and it feels like I’m not very good at reading them, because I don’t understand these unspoken codes. I find society to be a scary place,” he says. Toyoi’s work is a tranquil respite from the whirlwind of unpredictability, volatility, and anxiety that plague our modern lives. His gift lies in the way that he’s able to invoke a blissful sense of tranquility by simply presenting the nuanced beauties of life that many overlook, rendering these ordinary moments into gorgeous works of art.


It generally takes Toyoi two days to complete a GIF. The preliminary planning stages are admittedly much more difficult, he says. It’s crucial for him to avoid repetition. “Sometimes choosing the idea can take up to two weeks. Even now, two months can go by without me drawing anything,” he says. “For example, if I have already drawn a picture of a businessman asleep in a in a bus, then I would not draw a picture of a student asleep on a train.  There is no essential difference in my mind between the sleeping businessman and the sleeping student, or a train and a bus.”


“For now, I’ll be content if my work allows people to better appreciate the world around them. Japan has many problems, such as the threat of earthquakes, nuclear power plant accidents, distrust of the government, overworked people suffering from work-related stresses, and so on.” As if to counterbalance these large scale, hard-to-solve problems that trouble his mind, Toyoi’s charming GIFs instead hone in on the simple beauties of everyday life in Japan. “Regardless of some of the country’s issues, I want people to visit Japan. I certainly recommend Kyoto.”


Tumblr: 1041uuu.tumblr.com
Instagram: @1041uuu


Contributor: David Yen

Tumblr: 1041uuu.tumblr.com
Instagram: @1041uuu


寄稿人: David Yen

The Post Town of Tsumago-juku

Lasting between 1603 and 1868 was the Edo era, one of the most prosperous periods of time in the history of Japan. During this time, Japan was under the rule of the Tokugawa shogunate, the last feudal Japanese military government, and the country’s 300 daimyō, the all-powerful feudal lords who ruled most of the land. Characterized by intensive economic growth, an excessively strict social order, isolationist foreign policies and a flourishing art scene, the Edo period played a profound role in the industrial, artistic and intellectual development of Japan.


Located in Nagiso, Nagano Prefecture, Tsumago-juku is the 42nd of the 69 post towns on the Nakasendō, a trade route that stretched over 530 km and connected modern-day Tokyo with Kyoto during the Edo period. As one of the most well-preserved towns in Japan, people stopping by Tsumago are usually visitors looking to experience an authentic slice of Japanese history and soak in the ambience of a historic Japanese post town.

長野県の南木曽町(なぎそまち)に位置する妻籠宿(つまごじゅく)は、江戸時代の商業街道として現在の東京と京都を結ぶ530 kmに渡って栄えた中山道六十九次のうち42番目の宿場でした。日本国内で最も保存状態に優れた町である妻籠宿を訪れる観光客らは、歴史的な日本の宿場町の雰囲気に浸り、日本史の真の一面に触れることができます。

Before becoming a part of the Nakasendō route, Tsumago was part of the Kisoji, a minor trade route running through the Kiso Valley. The town fell into poverty after the construction of the Chūō Main Line railway, which bypassed Tsumago. As a result, the town ended up being neglected for over a century. Yet, with enough dedication and effort from locals, over 20 houses were restored by 1971. Five years later, Tsumago was deemed as a Nationally Designated Architectural Preservation Site by the Japanese government and has since then become a fairly popular tourist destination.


It only takes a short ten minutes to go through the entirety of Tsumago on foot. A myriad of wooden Edo-style temples, shrines and two-story inns are scattered along the street. Cars are strictly prohibited on the main road during the day, and all the power cables along with the telegraph lines are concealed. It’s details like these that brings forth the feeling of having traveled back in time for visitors.


Different kinds of accommodations are available for travelers, including a rebuilt version of the town’s honjin, which used to be a major way station for government officials. It was the place where only feudal lords and other representatives of the shogunate would stay during their travels. Originally destroyed, the inn was reconstructed in 1995, but the new building still manages to retain the sense of charm that it once held during the Edo era.


The waki-honjin, which is a smaller version of the honjin, is the secondary inn. In the past, it accommodated travelers of lower status and retainers of the feudal lords. Reconstructed in 1877, the waki-honjin was rebuilt with Japanese cypress, which was actually prohibited by the government during those times. According to the rules, when two official parties were traveling through Tsumago, only the most powerful of the two could stay in the main honjin, while the other party must reside in the waki-honjin.


The government has a set of stringent laws that prevents any of the buildings in Tsumago to be rented out, sold, or demolished. The town remains uninhabited nowadays, and its only the traditional craft shops and inns crammed with people during the tourist season that brings the sleepy town to life. But for people looking to experience a piece of Japanese cultural history, this quaint little town is a must-visit destination.


Contributor: Anastasia Masalova
Photographer: Tutu

寄稿者: Anastasia Masalova
カメラマン: Tutu

Art Island Naoshima

Setouchi Triennale takes place in spring, summer and autumn once every three years and lasts for 108 days. It is held on the 12 islands of the Seto Inland Sea, including Teshima, Megijima, Naoshima, and so on. With the largest number of installations and public works on display in Naoshima, this remote island is one of the most popular destinations during the Triennale.


Designed by the world-famous architect Tadao Ando, the Chichu Art Museum lives up to its name (chichu means “underground” in Japanese); a very large part of the museum’s compound is indeed concealed underground. Surprisingly, it manages still to use natural daylight as its main source of light. Through Ando’s masterful design, he has engaged in a conversation between architecture and nature. The museum is also exhibiting Time/Timeless/No Time from the iconic American minimalist artist Walter de Maria, Claude Monet’s large-scale oil painting Water Lily, as well as the American contemporary artist James Terrell’s Open Sky – an installation work using light as the medium. It is very rare to witness the work of impressionist, modern and contemporary art in one single museum. This alone would be reason enough to pay a visit.


Another must-see museum is the Lee Ufan Museum. Widely considered as the most well-established Korean contemporary artist, Lee Ufan was also one of the leading artists of the Japanese minimalism movement, which has had a significant influence in the world of contemporary art. The museum opened in 2010, and is now considered an architectural masterpiece and one of Tadao Ando’s most iconic creations. In this semi-underground building, the main visual design elements are the dots, lines, and surfaces; these elements, which are central in the works of both Tadao Ando and Lee Ufan, perfectly compliment each other in the space. Some of Lee Ufan’s large-scale installations and his early paintings are also on display in the museum.


After seeing the museum, visitors can also take a walk to the peaceful harbour of Naoshima where one can get an award-winning ice cream for only 550 yen and enjoy a beautiful sunset. Even though walking is a fairly feasible option for getting around, there are also busses running to most parts of the island. One bus is even decorated in Yayoi Kusama’s signature pumpkin patterns.


Also located on the island is the Art House Project, where artists have turned empty houses on the island into works of art. Visitors can easily access all of the revamped buildings by foot after getting off at one of many convenient bus stops. For the purpose of protecting the artworks, photography is forbidden in most of the houses. A local volunteer told me all the works showcased for the Art House Project will be kept permanently. Most of the residential housing on the island are built with wood, standing one next to the other in close proximity. All the windows and doors are smaller than normal, bringing a different yet interesting experience for city dwellers who visit. Even the houses themselves come in rather small sizes. The gardens and plants around the houses are beautifully and neatly arranged in a traditional Japanese style. Wandering around, you might also spot interesting details that reveal the tasteful eye of the house owners, such as a cute Tanuki sculpture or artwork made of recycling cans.


Besides all the interesting museums, the island itself also has a certain charm that it offers. The wooden walls and rusty metal factories add a natural texture to the island, giving it a sense of mysterious beauty that can only come with old age. Walking around, you’ll spot even more artwork, such as interesting silhouettes of people made with lines of wool, which are attached to walls throughout the area. They’re often quietly hidden away behind corners, waiting to surprise you when you turn around. It almost felt like these whimsical artworks were playing hide-and-seek with the tourists.


Not far from Miyanoura Port lies the famous polka-dot pumpkin by Yayoi Kusama. It sits quietly by the sea and the water’s blue hues seemed to make the pumpkin’s yellow brighter than ever. Yayoi Kusama’s merchandise can be purchased at the Benesse House Museum, which also showcases other very interesting artworks. From there, you can head to a café located on the mountaintop to relax with a nice cup of coffee. It is the perfect place to bask in the sunlight, while embracing the gentle wind coming in from the beach. The tranquil vibes of the island, the cutting-edge architecture of the art museums, and the traditional Japanese houses all co-exist harmoniously, perfectly demonstrating the unique nature of Naoshima.




Contributor & Photographer: George Liu Zhen
Additional Image Courtesy of Chi Chu Art Museum



寄稿者&カメラマン: George Liu Zhen
Additional Image Courtesy of 地中美術館

Fluorescent Tranquility

Having grown up in the northern Japanese city of Hokkaido, where it’s covered by snow for half of the year, artist Yukako Shibata’s inspiration is deeply rooted in her childhood memories of the snow-covered landscape. This influence can be seen in her work, in which she creates sculptures with organic shapes that are juxtaposed against white backgrounds.


“Snow definitely gave me lots of inspiration to make my sculptures, and I feel like there’s a sense of harmony when white covers everything,” she says. Influenced by her nostalgic memories of snow, Shibata often uses the white walls and other part of the exhibition space as her canvas.


Shibata is more intrigued by shadows, reflections, colours, and the negative space of the surrounding environment as opposed to the actual object itself. She’s also fascinated by small, seemingly trivial things. Shibata’s sensitivity to the mundane is evident in Breeze, where she used eight pieces of plaster, similar to wrinkled paper or plastic bags, and painted them white before placing them onto an all-white wall. Colors painted on the back of the plaster are reflected onto the all-white wall by natural light, adding a magical, ethereal quality to the creation.


Colour is an important subject in Shibata’s art. “My colours tend to be understated in terms of its hue and vibrancy. Having said that, I actually use the strongest possible colours, such as fluorescent ones, but I hide them by turning the colourful side to face the wall, so that all you see is the reflection of the colour,” Shibata explained. “When it comes to my painted surfaces, no matter how subtle and pale the colours may be, there is a long process of layering and glazing the different colours over time to achieve the soft shimmering effect. My colour is slow in revealing itself and requires a bit of time to tune into. At first glance, you may see not very much, and as you observe longer you will gradually begin to notice more and more details.”


Shibata’s work also often revisits similar forms and shapes, commonly working with circles, spherical, round, or egg-like forms. She explains that this personal preference is beyond intellectual understanding and she’s simply led by her instincts. “A circle is the most complete and self-containing abstract form that symbolizes the beginning of everything. It symbolizes life, our world, and even eternity in different cultures, hence I feel like it suggests something greater,” Shibata explains. “Modeling or carving round forms is satisfying and feels really natural to me. It’s pleasing to my eyes, and the process also feels quite nurturing for the soul.”


Shibata says that White Circle is one of her most understated works, which she describes as an experimental and conceptual idea. Minimalistic and colorless, the shadow is the dominant aspect of this creation. During exhibitions, it’s also purposefully placed in a slightly higher position in the gallery.

柴田さんは、自ら実験的かつ概念的アイデアと表現するWhite Circleが自身の作品のうちで最も地味な作品の一つであると言います。ミニマルで無色のこの作品を支配するものは影です。展覧会開催中、この作品は意図的にギャラリー内の若干高い位置に展示されます。

In Circles & Gold Frame, Shibata used egg-shaped objects and took a more formal approach. She placed several colourful round objects in a traditional gold picture frame, which questions the notion and tradition of painting and frames. She said, “I wondered what if I give a frame to my sculptures that obviously doesnʼt require one. My sculptures are bigger and can’t be contained by the frame. They aren’t being protected. Would it change anything?”

Circles & Gold Frameで、柴田さんは卵型のオブジェを使い、より形式的なアプローチを採用しました。絵画と額の概念と伝統に異議を唱えるように、色鮮やかな複数の丸いオブジェを古風な金色の額の中に配置したものです。彼女は、「額など当然必要ない自分の彫刻に額を付けたらどうだろうと考えたんです。額より大きな私の彫刻は額に入りません。彫刻は額に保護されていないわけです。それで何かが変わるでしょうか?」

Website: yukakoshibata.com


Contributor: Shanshan Chen
Images Courtesy of Yukako Shibata

ウェブサイト: yukakoshibata.com


寄稿者: Shanshan Chen
Images Courtesy of Yukako Shibata

Manhole Covers in Japan

In the mid-1900s, Tokyo and other major Japanese cities started implementing new manhole covers. Using textured surfaces to increase traction for passing traffic on rainy days, the new designs were created with both safety and functionality in mind. Not long after the implementation of these new manhole lids, Yasutake Kameda, an official from the Ministry of Construction, was tasked with convincing other Japanese provinces to connect to the main sewage system, which was a costly operation. In order to win over the public, he had a brilliant plan. Yasutake approached all the various municipalities with a proposition that allowed them to design their own manhole covers. His success is evident; throughout the country, turning manhole covers into beautiful pieces of art has become a tradition that’s still alive and well today.


The entire country of Japan now boasts over 6,000 of these custom manhole lid designs. They can be spotted in large metropolises as well as various rural areas. On top of that, there are even multiple museums throughout the country dedicated to manhole covers; some companies have even organized specialized committees that researches and preserves these lids. This cultural phenomena has attracted a devout following, including S. Morita, a photographer who has become well known for finding and documenting these works of art.

日本の大都市だけでなく数々の農村地域には、現在6千個以上の特注マンホールデザインが見られます。さらに国内では、マンホールの蓋のみを集めた専門博物館が多数あるだけでなく、蓋を調査して保管する専門委員会を組織化した企業さえ存在します。この文化的現象は、このような芸術作品の発掘とドキュメント化で著名な写真家、S. Morita氏のような熱心な愛好家を魅了してきました。

In Morita’s photos, the multicolored manhole lids can be seen exploring a wide spectrum of subjects, with animal and plant life, cultural customs, and history being the most common themes. At times, the manhole covers are designed to commemorate certain events or dates. There are even manholes that feature characters from the famous Japanese anime Detective Conan. The designs on certain manhole covers also serve as identifiers for the jurisdiction responsible for maintenance. Others might place more emphasis on functionality and practicality, some feature directions, others might cover up subterranean fire hydrants, and some lids in residential areas even offer directions to nearby emergency shelters by using different colored arrows to indicate how far the shelter is. There are also taboos when it comes to manhole cover art, with an unspoken rule being to not feature portraits of people. Besides portraits, it’s also uncommon to see national shrines and temples on these lids.


The next time you’re in Japan, take notice of the ground when you’re walking about. You just might find yourself standing on a piece of art!


: ~/mrsy


Contributor: Banny Wang
Images Courtesy of S. Morita

: ~/mrsy


寄稿者: Banny Wang
Images Courtesy of S. Morita

Kristen Liu’s Art

Born and raised in San Francisco by her grandmother and art teacher mother, Kristen Liu-Wong spent her childhood inside museums or at school with her mum who was finishing a degree in textiles. She looked up to artists in high school who had either begun as illustrators or street artists, influencing her choice to study illustration at Pratt Institute, New York. “It seemed to be a little fresher than the fine art world of Chelsea which is why I didn’t go into painting,” she says.

土生土长于美国洛杉矶,由祖母和身为艺术老师的妈妈一手带大,Kristen Liu-Wong的童年不是就浸润在博物馆里,就是跟着当时进行面料设计深造的妈妈待在学校里。她高中的启蒙艺术偶像不是插画家就是街头艺术家,所以在纽约普拉特学院她选择了插画作为专业。“那似乎比切尔西式的纯美术更有意思一点,所以我也没有学油画。”

Now based in L.A., her bold artwork explores themes of sexuality, power and violence through her personal portrayal of Japanese folk art. In an attempt to reveal all aspects of human nature she paints bright, bizarre narratives – their playful neon colors making a mockery of the darker, grotesque subject matter.


Her unique, surrealist style combines cartoon-inspired science fiction with the eroticism of Japanese shunga prints. Although she is Chinese, “the graphic nature of Japanese shunga is just so appealing that I especially draw upon that influence”. The environments she creates are of an exaggerated aesthetic, but she feels like the actions, circumstances and characters all speak to her personal reality. The scenes are unrealistic yet focus on relatable, everyday themes such as sexuality and vulnerability. This is reminiscent of Japanese shunga, which traditionally portrays the aesthetics of everyday life despite its overzealous eroticism.


Unlike her relatively mild-mannered self, Kristen’s fantastical, fictional space-witches embody sex as well as violence. “I was tired of seeing women portrayed as flat, weak characters with nothing to offer. Women are often portrayed sexually but by men for men – I wanted to show a woman’s perspective of our sexuality”. Their often threatening manner, blemished skin and black eyes offer something visually upsetting to offset their sexuality.


She knows pretty early on in the creative process how each piece will look by quickly sketching a thumbnail of the main figures and general composition. This then translates into a final drawing, which is transferred onto a panel for the painting; the specific colors and patterns are chosen as she goes along. “The artist Jan Yager once said something that really resounded with me: ‘I decided I had to do work that was authentic – of its place and of its time’, so I always try to approach my work with full commitment to try my best and not cut corners.”

她在创作每一幅作品的早期已有整体布局,知道如何通过快速勾勒出主要人物的缩略图进行主题呈现。随后,她将最后的画面放到木板上进行细化上色,具体的色彩和线条在这个实现的过程中诞生。“艺术家Jan Yager曾说过一句深得我心的话: ‘我决心创作真实的作品,无论是在空间还是在时间维度上。所以我总是全力以赴地投入我的工作,不走任何捷径。’”

She says, “I always have a new favorite piece because I believe that you’re only as good as your latest piece. I try to make each painting my new best.” An important mantra to keep motivated, she’s currently involved in a variety of exciting projects including a mural for Nous Tous gallery in Chinatown, L.A. before their opening of Everything You Own is Mine on August 6th. Her biggest upcoming show will be a two-person show in November at Ruckus Gallery Philadelphia – “that is the one that’s really going to be fun, but will also kick my ass.”

她说:“我最爱的作品总是我最新的作品,因为我相信只有最新的作品才能代表自己当下的水平。每一次的创作我都努力做到最好。”为了鞭策自己不断进步,她目前参与的项目内容涉猎广泛,有8月6号在洛杉矶中国城Nous Tous画廊的《Everything You Own is Mine》一展开幕做壁画;而11月的费城Ruckus画廊,将引来她的双人大展,“那真的很有意思,同时也绝对是自我挑战与突破呀。”

Instagram: @kliuwong


Contributor: Ruby Weatherall



供稿人: Ruby Weatherall

ONEQ’s Evocative Illustrations

ONEQ is a Japanese illustrator who’s most well known for her illustrations of vintage pin-up girls. Her drawings seamlessly blend Western and Eastern styles – think 1900s American poster art, with the curvy sexualized female form, mixed together with the flawless skin and delicate features of the females portrayed in Japanese mangas. ONEQ says she’s endlessly fascinated with women and the female body. This fascination is mirrored in all of her work, where she draws captivating images of voluptuous hourglass-shaped women, powerful and seductive. Her illustrations are proud celebrations of femininity and sexuality.


ONEQ was born, raised, and is currently based in Kumamoto, the capital of Kyushu island. As a completely self-taught artist, ONEQ’s love affair with illustration, like most illustrators, can be traced back to her childhood. Mangas were a big part of that childhood. Generally, Japanese manga is separated into different categories, some cater to a female audience and others cater to a male audience. Having an older brother allowed her the opportunity to be exposed to both worlds.


She cites three major influences that pushed her along the path to becoming an illustrator. The first is the famous manga artist Rumiko Takahashi, the illustrator behind Ranma 1/2 and InuYasha, who she says is her biggest influence. The second is Rockin’ Jelly Bean, a famous Japanese pop artist, whose use of colors captivated her and changed the way she looked at how colors could be used. The third is Simon Bisley, a British comic artist that portrays women in equal parts femininity and equal parts strength. All of these influences came together and evolved her artwork into what it is today.


Having just turned thirty-four earlier this year, ONEQ is working full time as a freelance artist, but just recently reallocated one day out of every week to work at her friend’s bar. Her motivations behind this aren’t financial. The bar is stimulating and the atmosphere inspires her art, she says. “Many unique and powerful ladies go there on weekends. Their energy is captivating.” Not a stranger to this lifestyle, she recalls being mixed up in Japan’s night life scene as a teenager. Often missing school, ONEQ would find herself spending time in the more dubious parts of town. Even though she prefers the slow-paced and quiet life in Kumamoto, she considers Japan’s night life to be another aspect of Japanese culture that has influenced her artwork and style. She says, “In that regard, I consider my past to be both good and bad.”


ONEQ’s creation process is a mix of both traditional and modern techniques. She first begins with rough sketches to flesh out the initial concept. Once the idea has been clearly thought out, she will then draw a refined version in monochrome by using mechanical pencils. If the image is intended to be a colored piece of work, it gets scanned and digitally colored in Photoshop. Her pieces that involve color could take upwards of two weeks to fully complete.


Besides only working on paper and computer screens, she has also completed numerous murals and is keen on creating even more in the near future. She says, “I want to create more murals. It would be great if I could create murals in different places all over the world. Shanghai is definitely on my list.” ONEQ elaborates by saying that she doesn’t approach her art with any intentions of being famous; her sense of artistic accomplishment comes from creating artwork that she personally finds meaningful. This sincerity that she approaches all her illustrations with is undoubtedly another aspect of what makes her artwork so alluring.


Website: kotemufu.exblog.jp
Behance: ~/oneq-japan
Facebook: ~/oneq.pinup
Instagram: @negiyakisoba


Contributor: David Yen

ウェブサイト: kotemufu.exblog.jp
Behance: ~/oneq-japan
Facebook: ~/oneq.pinup
Instagram: @negiyakisoba


寄稿者: David Yen

Yoshito Hasaka’s Vision of Tokyo

Tokyo is often associated with the word “dense”, which isn’t surprising considering its status as one of the most populated metropolises in the world; the Japanese capital is a massive melting pot of subcultures and a place where one can find all the latest and hottest trends of Asia. Yoshito Hasaka is one of the millions living in the bustling city. Working as a full-time designer and iOS engineer, his free time is often spent exploring the nooks and crannies of this city with his camera. His Instagram account @_F7, where he presents a unique vision of the city through his signature wintry tones, is considered by many as one of the must-follow accounts in Tokyo.


Yoshito’s passion for photography began simply as a way for him to document his travels. But as a graphic designer, his attentiveness to aesthetics naturally made its way into his photography. Yoshito says he’s also fascinated with the ways that people interact with objects; he’s intrigued by the kinds of reactions or feelings a person might have towards something. This is why he wants to create images that will resonate with viewers. So from taking the actual picture to post-processing, Yoshito works meticulously to craft the perfect image. Recently, Neocha had a chance to speak to him about photography and his vision of Tokyo.



Neocha: What do you like to shoot the most in Tokyo?

Yoshito: I like things that were made by hand. I like seeing why they were made. I’m also a creator, so I feel that there’s always an intention and a meaning behind everything I create. I noticed this recently, but the things I’ve been trying to capture formed a kind of verification process for myself as a designer. There’s no way I can know if it’s correct or not, but when I organize things into a photograph, I’ll look at whatever is in front of my viewfinder and wonder why it was made this way. How did the person who made it want it to be? That’s my main theme, so that’s why a lot of the photos are taken from the front. Sometimes this means looking at the shape of a single building, and sometimes it might mean superimposing several elements, such as the way in which a crowd is walking through a street, the way in which the sun sets on the horizon, etc. I always try to give my own interpretation. It’s interesting for me, if I manage to capture the intentions of the creator with my camera, and if I can go beyond that, then I feel like the work really becomes my own. In Tokyo, there are a lot of different things that attract my interest. The city’s constantly being scrapped and rebuilt. So rather than having to go look for interesting things, interesting things have a tendency to appear in front of me.

Neocha: 東京で撮影する被写体で最も好きなものとは何でしょう?

Yoshito: 人の手によって作られたものが好きなんです。それがなぜそのように作られているのか。自分も作り手ですし、ものを創るひとつひとつのことには、必ず意図と理由があると思っています。最近気づいたのですが、ぼくがキャプチャーしているモノ・コトは、デザイナーとしてのその確認作業だったのです。正しいかどうかは知るべくもないわけですが、イメージとして収めるときに、自分のファインダーの前にあるものはなぜそう作られているのか。作った人はどう作りたかったのか。といったことが最初のテーマです(そのため、正面から撮ることが多いのです)。それはひとつの建物そのものの形であるときもあれば、多くの人がその道を歩く様子や、太陽が沈んでいく様など、複数の事象が重なって見える景色であったりします。そういう自分なりの解釈を常にするようにしていて、それが作った人が作る前に描いていたイメージを当てることができていたらとても面白いですし、さらにそれを超えることができたなら本当の意味で私のオリジナルになると思っています。東京にはそういう興味をひくものが本当にたくさんあります。どんどんスクラップ&ビルドされていますし、撮りに行くよりも出現する数の方が多いのではないでしょうか。

Neocha: What are some of your favorite spots in the city?

Yoshito: I like areas or events where lots of people gather. I like to think about why they gather there. I’m attracted by both indoor and outdoor locations; I want to see what it is about them that draws people there. I like capturing these places in a photograph and interpret it through my own means, and attempt to synchronize my thoughts with the person who created the place. Inevitably, I end up shooting at a lot of famous places. In Tokyo, I like any kind of tourist area, as well as busy areas where many people gather or go to work.

Neocha: 東京で最もお気に入りのスポットをいくつか教えていただけますか?


Neocha: How often do you shoot nowadays?

Yoshito: Whenever I’m out and about in Tokyo, I’ll have my camera. I’ve been on Instagram for five years now though, so it’s harder to find new things to shoot in this city. I’ll post images taken at different famous locations, but I’ll also see other people shoot and post the same vantage. But I feel like it’s different every time I’m out. The weather, lighting, and people are never the same – other unforeseen factors might also affect how the image turns out. I don’t go out every day and night anymore, but it’s always fun to look for fresh angles and think about how to best frame the shot.

Neocha: 最近はどのくらいの頻度で撮影していますか?


Neocha: How did you develop your personal style?

Yoshito: I get many comments from people like: “your photos are really Tron-ish,” or like “So Blade Runner!” Many people also tell me the colors in my photos are unique. I actually like Hollywood movies a lot, but they don’t influence me too much. From the point of view of a graphic designer, I like to envision my photos in the same way as a black-and-white photograph. I see them as “just a blue photo”, or “just a green and orange picture”, and so on. I would like the viewer to see it this way too. I reduce the color saturation on my photos for a reason. It’s part of the content – a way to focus on the story. To me, using different colors is like speaking with many unique voices, and I’m very happy with this approach.

Neocha: 独自のスタイルをどのように発展させたのでしょう?

Yoshitoよく、「Tronっぽい」とか「Blade Runnerだ」とか言われます。そして、画像の色使いがユニークだと言ってくれる方がいます。もちろん ハリウッド映画は好きですが、そこにどっぷり浸かろうと思っているわけではありません。グラフィックデザイナーとして、モノクロ写真と同じように、ただ「この青の写真」とか、「このグリーンとオレンジのイメージ」とシンプルに認識したいし、見る人にもそう認識していただきたいのです。写真の彩度を下げていくことが多いですが、私の場合はそれは伝えたい内容であったり、ストーリーにより焦点を当てるための手法なのです。ユニークと捉えられている声が多いことは、とてもうれしく思います。

Neocha: What new subject matters or locations do you have plans of shooting in the future?

Yoshito: This year alone, I’ve seen many crazy photos taken of the famous Shibuya street crossing in Shinjuku. Many of the shots had angles I’d never seen before. I was really interested in shooting the crossing in a fresh way, but I never ended up with anything I liked. Experimenting with new things is always interesting and I hope to experiment more and more. Besides that, I’d also want to go to more new places. I’ve seen a few new locations on the internet and on social media that I’d like to visit. These places range from abandoned factories to architecture with impressive facades. It doesn’t matter to me if the location is more traditional or more futuristic. Sometimes when I come across a really great location online, it makes me want to get up and go shoot right away.

Neocha: 今後撮影を予定している新たな素材や場所とは何でしょうか?

Yoshito: 今年、今まで見たことのないアングルで渋谷や新宿の有名なストリートを撮影した、とても多くのすごい写真を見ました。普段自分が撮ってる場所を全くちがうアングルから捉えた写真を目の当たりにして、どうやって撮っているんだろうと興味を覚えましたが、まだそれを自分の手で撮影するには至っていません。非常に新鮮な表現手法で、トライしたいと思っています。そして、少し足を伸ばせばまだたくさんの行ったことがないスポットがあることを、インターネットやメディアを、インスタグラムを通して見ますし、そこへはカメラを持って行ってみたいと思っています。工場地帯もそうですし、クラシックなもの・未来的なものどちらもあるのですが、とても印象的な顔を持った建築物などです。

Instagram: @_F7
VSCO: ~/f7th


Contributor: Banny Wang

Instagram: @_F7
VSCO: ~/f7th


寄稿者: Banny Wang

Spatial Bodies



The city of Osaka, Japan is the backdrop for filmmaker AUJIK’s latest reality-bending video. In the short four-minute video, created with drone footage and 3D renderings, many of the buildings Japan’s second largest city have morphed into monstrous megastructures. Even stranger, these high rises, skyscrapers, and iconic landmarks, like the iconic Tsūtenkaku tower, appear to be moving about, defying the laws of physics. As these structures morph and oscillate throughout the video, the ordinarily mundane cityscape of Osaka turns into a writhing forest of concrete-fleshed organisms. Beneath the bending and twisting architectural impossibilities, the inhabitants of Osaka seem to be carrying on with their lives and unaffected by these anomalies, driving through the streets like any other day.


AUJIK cites many influences that inspired him to create this video: from the famous Gunkan building in Tokyo to the Sony PlayStation 2 game Katamari Damacy. But his biggest influence for this video would appear to be Metabolism architecture, the Japanese architectural movement that combines concepts about architectural design with concepts about biological growth.


Like previous projects, AUJIK worked closely with a musician to create a fitting score for this new video. In the past, he’s collaborated with a range of talented musicians, from Scottish music producers to American black metal bands. For Spatial Bodies, he worked with Japanese electronic music producer Daisuke Tanabe, who created an eerily calm soundtrack that guides viewers through a contorting cityscape.

これまでのプロジェクトのように、AUJIKはミュージシャンと緊密に作業を行い、この新しい動画に合った音楽を作った。過去には、スイスの音楽プロデューサーからアメリカのブラック・メタルバンドまで、幅広い優秀なミュージシャンとコラボしている。Spatial Bodiesのために、日本のエレクトロニックミュージックプロデューサーDaisuke Tanabeと仕事を行った。彼が作曲した不気味な程静かなサウンドトラックは、歪んだ都市の景観の中で見る人を案内している。

Neocha Selects is a curated selection of some of the most inspiring and innovative video content from Asia. To see more stories like this, click here. To see original Neocha videos, click here.

Neocha Selectsは、アジア各国から届いた最も刺激的で革新的な動画コンテンツから厳選されたセレクションです。さらに同様の話題をご覧いただくには、こちらをクリックしてください。Neochaのオリジナル動画については、こちらをクリックしてください。

Website: aujik.com
Vimeo: ~/qnqaujik
Facebook: ~/qnqaujik


Contributor: David Yen
Images & Video Courtesy of AUJIK

ウェブサイト: aujik.com
Vimeo: ~/qnqaujik
Facebook: ~/qnqaujik


Contributor: David Yen
Images & Video Courtesy of AUJIK