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Punk Yukata from Tsukikageya

Design, Fashion, Japan, Traditional Japan

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I’ve discussed the kimono revival before, because I always get excited when I see traditional Japanese dress being interpreted in innovative ways. And this is exactly what designer Natsuki Shigeta has done with her brand Tsukikageya. Yukata are light cotton kimono’s usually worn at festivals during the summer months, so they can be worn more casually than  most kimono which are worn only at formal occasions. It’s this freedom that Tsukikageya designer Natcuki Shigeta has exploited, creating beautiful yukata crafted using traditional method but adorned with contemporary motifs. With designs ranging from animal print, ghosts and pouting lips, and accessories in bright pink, using swarovski crystals and real snake skin, you’re sure to stand out.

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Urban Growth: The Work of Marumiyan

Art, Design, Japan

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Marumiyan is a Japanese illustrator and designer known for his beautiful and intricate work. His portfolio is extensive, and the quality of the work so high, that I’ve had to divide it into separate posts. Last month I focussed on his beautiful landscapes, but this time I’m just showcasing some general work from his portfolio.

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Japan Trends: Hime Gyaru

Fashion, Japan

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Hime Gyaru is a new look gaining popularity in Tokyo. Somewhere in between the fashions of Lolita and Gyaru, Hime Gyaru (literally Princess Girls) aim to look a bit like Barbie. The cynic in me can’t help but notice that it’s taken the worst of both looks and combined them: mixing the ridiculous hair and make-up  of the Gyaru with candy-pink and huge bows taken from Lolita fashion.

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Pic of the Day: Kegadol Lolita

Comics, Anime & Manga, Fashion, Japan

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The Kegadol fetish has been around ever since Rei Ayanami managed to turn bandages in a fashion statement. Literally meaning “injured idol”, the Kegadol look features casts, eye-patches and surgical masks, often worn with ironic effect.

The image is by Mihara Mitsukaze from her work Alice Addict via Aethereality.

Nippon Vogue: Stranger in a Strange Land

Fashion, Japan, Photography, Traditional Japan

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These intriguing images are from the Nippon Vogue article “Stranger in a Strange Land” published October 2008. Although the concept is simple enough, the juxtapositioning of French and Italian couture against traditional kimonos reveals unexpected similarities.

The effect is to make contemporary fashion strange, with the body it idealizes as just as artificial and standardised as a geisha’s mask. The images are also hauntingly beautiful, a paradox which points to the essence of what fashion is: artifice.

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A Lighter Side of Japan: The Work of Ume Kayo

Art, Japan, Photography

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Ume Kayo is a fine art photographer recognized for her playful images of life in Japan. While there is still debate about the value of this type of “vernacular” photography, Kayo has been extraordinarily successful. Her first book Ume-me sold over 110,000 copies and earned her the prestigous Kimura Ihei Award. Since then she’s produced two more books Danshi, about the escapades of schoolboys, and Jichan-sama, about her grandfather.

I’m not sure of the artistic merit of these images, but the real question is whether they’ll make you laugh. Enjoy!

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Momoji: Adorable Message Dolls

Design, Japan

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Momiji are hand-painted resin message dolls inspired by Japanese Kokeshi, with each doll containing a tiny folded card for your own secret message. Momoji challenged the photography students of the Chelsea College of Art and Design to create beautiful images of Momiji dolls and these photographs are the result. Heidi Coleman and Jacqueline Colley were the overall winners having hand crafted this quirky doll house and then capturing it in film.

Check out the official Momji website here.

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Dreamlike Landscapes by Marumiyan

Art, Japan

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These dreamlike images are the work of Marumiyan, a Japanese designer and illustrator. While all of Marumiyan’s work has the same intricate, collage-like quality, these works depicting surreal landscapes really stood out for me.

I’ll definitely be posting more of his works again, but in the mean time you can check out his extensive portfolio here.

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Beautiful Girls: The Art of Yoshinori Shizuma

Art, Comics, Anime & Manga, Japan

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These illustrations are the work of Yoshinori Shizuma, a mangaka whose work was recently featured in the book 100 Masters of Bishojo Painting (絵師100人). The book’s available from Amazon and J-List, you can also check out his official site here.

Enjoy!

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Learning Japanese: Tips and Tricks

Japan, Traditional Japan

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As a huge fan of Japanese culture it was inevitable that I started to pick phrases like “Baka! Kawaai!” and “Sugoii!”. So it was only a matter of time before I decided to put my time watching anime to use, and try to learn the language. Almost a decade later I’m still learning and honestly I haven’t improved that much. Partly it’s because I’ve only studied on and off, but also because even when I did work hard my methods weren’t great. So how can you improve faster and easier? These are some of the things I’ve learned the hard way…

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