Archives for the month of: August, 2010

Any good sneakerhead will know that the Onitsuka Tiger Corsair is one of the most influential sports shoes ever designed. Not only did the shoe introduce a breakthrough design to the athletic arena, it also became the first widely worn crossover shoe, moving from the feet of amateur and professional athletes to those of casual joggers and on to become preferred weekend wear for many people that never went anywhere near a sports field. Cementing its position in sports design history, though, is the fact that it was a controversial presence in the formation of global sports powerhouse Nike.

onitsuka tiger corsair

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Takashi Murakami is arguably Japan’s most important contemporary visual artist. Internationally celebrated, his art is the result of formal fine art training, an international Pop art sensibility and a fascination with Japanese otaku culture, with its manga and anime characters and visuals; Poku (Pop + otaku) has emerged as a description of his art. His unique genius lies in his erasing the line between his art and his more commercial works, his merchandise and other marketing creations.

SUPERFLAT MONOGRAM : : 2003, creative director Takashi Murakami, director Mamoru Hosoda, producer Tsuyoshi Takashiro, music Fantastic Plastic Machine.

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Tokyo’s Harajuku area is one of the coolest places on the planet, attracting young fashionistas, eye catching fashion iconoclasts, theatrical fashion tribes, international fashion photographers and fashion company trend spotters. Its streets are a fashion nirvana of boutiques and brands: from cutting edge emerging local designers to quirky specialist stores to international labels offering merchandise made specifically for the Japanese market. Weekend tourists and professional film crews take footage of cute, frilly Lolitas, retro Punks, androgynous Gothics and Visual kei music followers and outlandish costumed anime characters near the quaint JR Harajuku train station. On Takeshita dori, teens hang out at burger restaurants and crêperies or shop for disposable fashion and accessories at the tiny nondescript stores. The main arteries of Meiji dori and Omotesando house an array of fashionable brand boutiques and utterly beautiful luxury brand emporiums, while the network of lanes is where those in the know head for the season’s must have items. This retail paradise provides a fitting backdrop for the ever shifting parade of street fashion worn by the area’s stylish shoppers and workers.

 

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Shinto and Buddhism are Japan’s principal religions, but in a materialistic culture such as Japan’s, religion is consigned to the larger signposts of life, primarily at births, deaths and marriages and during certain festivals throughout the year – such as this week’s obon. These religions as embodied in Shinto shrines (jinja) and Buddhist temples (otera) provide a glimpse of the aesthetics and rituals of times gone by.

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Tokyo Hipsters Club was seemingly conceived to break all the rules of retailing when it opened in Harajuku, yet it remains a strong retail presence five years on. More a cultural lifestyle space than a typical store, it’s one of the area’s most interesting shopping destinations that mixes the iconography of western religion, rock ‘n’ roll heroes and political revolution into a modern cool ambience that gives the sense of being in an exclusive, hip and slightly eccentric members’ club.

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WIth crowded living conditions in Japan, architects and designers have looked at innovative solutions to the country’s urban design challenges. Since the 1970s when Japan experienced its second baby boom, new ideas in providing permanent and temporary living environments, such as Tokyo’s Nakagin Capsule Tower and the Capsule Inn Osaka, both designed by Kisho Kurokawa, took shape and attempted to show alternative approaches to the design and use of the rarest of Japanese commodities: space.

It’s common knowledge that Japan, with its population of more than 127 million people, is a crowded country. In Tokyo, where conditions are at their most extreme, there are around 4000 people per square kilometer. Space is at a premium. Evidence of how the Japanese approach the design of their cramped environment is all around: from scaled down train carriages with their minimalist seating patterns and assorted counter only dine in restaurants to miniaturized electronic gadgets – the Japanese used netbooks years before the term had been invented in the West – and ingenious storage systems designed for crowded apartments to the scale of the compact apartments themselves.

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