Details on the upcoming POW! WOW! Hawaii 2015 art festival

In preparation of the art gathering in Hawaii happening next month, POW! WOW! has released program details including participating artists and the event schedule. The annual festival hopes to inspire a broader community through art, while increasing exposure of the artists both local and international.

This year’s event will take place between February 7 and February 14, and will include a line-up of 40 artists. Following a successful event in Taiwan, the progressive art initiative is now looking to expand globally, targeting California, Singapore, Washington D.C. and a handful of others cities.

For more information on the upcoming event, visit their webpage.

NEIGHBORHOOD (Japan) x adidas Originals by 84-Lab Boston Super

Familiar collaborators NEIGHBORHOOD and adidas have once again teamed up for a brand new rendition of the adidas Boston Super low-top sneaker. The clean colorway sports a lush grey suede upper and complementary colored mesh underlays. Further details include a grey leather back heel tab, contrasting white midsole featuring grey and blue streaks, and a black outsole finished with a sky blue tint, coloring the circumference of the shoe’s bottom for additional pop factor.

A kzk branded tab stitched on the tongue and a NEIGHBORHOOD logo placed on the box complete the duo effort. Retailing for €150 EUR (approximately $170 USD), the sneakers are now available for purchase from SUEDE.

Blackbird sits down with Shinsuke Takizawa of NEIGHBORHOOD to talk about his recently revamped 1932 Ford Roadster

Hong Kong-based SILLY THING‘s automotive journal Blackbird has launched a brand new endeavor: “Shop Talk,” a new web series that’s set to explore the relationship between car and driver.

For the very first installment, the Blackbird team travelled to Tokyo to highlight none other than NEIGHBORHOOD founder — and well-known auto enthusiast — Shinsuke Takizawa. Specifically, the episode highlights Takizawa’s recently restored 1932 Ford Roadster — an eight-year labor of love that the designer discovered in the United States.

Here, “Shop Talk” offers some rare insight into the NEIGHBORHOOD founder’s build methodology, which reflects his own personal aesthetic, and a chance to get up close and personal with the details of an automobile that’s more than eight decades old.

UNITED ARROWS & SONS (Japan) x adidas Originals “Premium Experience” Collection

UNITED ARROWS & SONS joins adidas Originals to produce a new 2015 collection entitled “Premium Experience.” Consisting of a tailored blazer, premium collared shirts, rugby shorts, a set of clutch bags, techfit socks, rugby shirts, and headwear, the collaborative collection combines premium Japanese apparel and tailoring with sport-inspired aesthetics and tech inspirations. Exemplifying adidas’ continuing foray into premium apparel, the selection highlights a refined and minimal aesthetic, emphasizing the exceptional quality of construction.

The UNITED ARROWS & SONS x adidas Originals “Premium Experience” collection is available now at adidas Originals online store.

Forget shuriken: 10 stealthy and dangerous ninja tools you didn’t know existed

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RocketNews 24:

Growing up in the 90s, I was raised with the notion that ninja were teenage turtles, silent assassins or similar to the characters in Naruto. As much as we’d like to believe these were the reality, according to an interesting article from Listverse, the ninja that actually roamed the streets and castles as spies and assassins were humans who didn’t always dress in black (apparently they wore dark blue), and they didn’t regularly use the famous weapons we know so well.

So, if they weren’t using shuriken and long swords all of the time, what did they use? Researchers have been investigating the ancient style for decades and have uncovered some pretty amazing and ingenious items that you would never even dream of. There are probably thousands of ninja tools and techniques out there, but we’ll just focus on the few that Listverse brought into the open.

1. Nekome (Cat eyes)

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Have you ever seen cats’ eyes glowing in the dark night or their pupils shrinking to slivers in the daytime? The ninja definitely did. In fact, they examined cat eyes so closely that they were trained to be able to tell the time of day, within one hour, based on the size of a cat’s pupil, since they change in reaction to the daylight. Now, this leads me to wonder how well this would work in a rainstorm, but I guess the ninja probably had some correction for that. While this isn’t really a tool they would carry around with them (we hope), assuming the stray cat situation in old-time Japan was anything like it is today, the ninja were never in need of a pair of feline lenses.

2. Nekote (Cat hands)

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Staying with the cat theme, we move on to nekote. Used exclusively by female ninja, known as kunoichi, this was a metal or bamboo claw-like weapon, which could be attached to the fingers via thimble-like pieces or with a band around the hand. This could very well be the origin of the term “cat fight.”

3. Kanzashi (Hairpin)

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Kunoichi were known for their preference of lightweight and extra-hidden weapons, like the nekote and hairpins. We’re not talking about the hairpins you can use to pick locks (although, I’m sure these could do that too), but instead, kanzashi — long, ornamental hairpins, which could be sharpened and easily disguised and carried in your hair. The pins could be used to attack vital points or dipped in poison to deliver a fatal prick.

4. Saoto hikigane (Ear trumpet)

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This one looks pretty uncool, I have to say, but again, I grew up in the age of wiretapping and hidden recorders. While ninja did do some fighting, a lot of their responsibility was to stealthily get top-secret information from their enemies. But without modern day technology, how did they do it? With an ear trumpet, of course! The shape of the device amplifies sound, so it can be used on its own or up against a wall to hear the conversation on the other side. Although, a lot of Japanese doors were made of paper, so I can’t imagine it would really have been that hard to eavesdrop.

5. Yatate (Brush and ink case)

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Once vital information was obtained with the saoto hikigane, the ninja had to record it somehow in order to inform their bosses. It sounds kind of lame, but ninja apparently often carried a pencil-box like container for their calligraphy brush and ink— but of course, they may have carried small knives and bottles of poison in there too, for good measure.

6. Donohi (Anywhere heater)

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Stakeouts in cold weather are no fun, especially without kairo, the disposable heat packs we use today. Instead, of kairo, ninja used a donohi. This device was pretty simple, but very effective. They would put a flammable material (gunpowder, alcohol, etc) in a piece of bamboo, copper or iron cylinder and light it. The design allowed it to heat up, but the fire could last for hours or even days. I know kairo now last for 24 hours, but they sure don’t last for days!

7. Mizu-gumo (Water spider)

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Could ninja walk on water? Researchers can’t really prove it, but they think this tool, mizu-gumo (literally, water spider), which consisted of four curved wooden or inflated animal hide pieces strung together with a fifth piece in the middle, may have been used for water-walking. Perhaps they couldn’t use them to walk over deep moats surrounding castles, but they were probably useful in swampy areas.

8. Crickets

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Ninja may have used cat eyes and cat hands, but even they weren’t able to harness the stealthiness of felines. As smooth as ninja were, cracking twigs, crunchy snow or even the mere silence of the insects when a human comes near, could give the ninja away. To prepare for this, they sometimes carried a cage of crickets and secret poisons that either made the insects chirp, in order to cover-up the sound of movement, or be silent when need be. Pretty creative! (I know some modern-day people who would like that secret potion to shut crickets up on summer nights.)

9. Eggshells

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What would you do if you were a ninja about to be captured by the enemy? How about throwing eggshell bombs at them? (Aka, Edo era pepper spray.) The trick is to poke a hole in an egg, drain the contents, and then refill it with iron filings, salt, pepper or anything else that would cause irritation to the eyes or nose. Since eggshells are easy to break, throwing them at your opponent would quickly release the blinding substance. I’m interested to know how they transported their egg bombs without breaking them along the way…

10. Goshiki-mai (Five-colored rice)

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Japanese people love them some rice, ninja included. To the ninja though, rice was more than just breakfast, lunch and dinner; it was used for a code system. Rice could be painted different colors and arranged in certain combinations or amounts to convey secret messages. When left on the side of the road, a fellow clansman would see the sign and understand the message, but the average Joe would just see some rice. Pretty creative unless someone ate the rice!

Harnessing the power of nature, getting creative with everyday items and using what would probably have been some state-of-the art technology for the time, ninja were actually way cooler than I was raised to believe, and that’s saying a lot. Technology may have made most of these tools obsolete, but some could easily still be used today.

 

Steam Garden: Tokyo’s steampunk festival

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RocketNews 24:

Though it sometimes feel a bit like bragging, when people ask what we like best about Tokyo, we can’t help answering that it basically has everything. Now, don’t us wrong, there are some things you can’t find in Japan’s capital city, but just about everything we’ve gone looking for, we’ve been able to find. And we’ve even discovered some things without knowing we were looking for them! Case in point, about a week ago, we found out that Tokyo has its very own quarterly steampunk festival!

Dubbed Steam Garden, the first event of the year will be held next month in Harajuku, but we were dying to know more about it, so we reached out to the Tokyo Inventors Society to learn more about steampunk in Japan.

Check our exclusive interview and get information about joining the fun below!

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The world is overflowing with unique subcultures, but steampunk is perhaps one of the most interesting–though we have to admit it can be somewhat difficult to pin down exactly what it is! Fortunately, we were able to get a pretty satisfying answer from Luke, one of the founders of the Tokyo Inventors Society, which run Steam Garden. “Steampunk is a kind of re-imagining of 19th century science fiction, like a punk-attitude version of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. We like the cool 19th century aesthetic, the sense of adventure, the DIY aspect of crafting and building things, and the satirical, playful approach to history.”

Of course, generally steampunk evokes images of Victorian culture, but it actually seems to work very, very well in Japan as well, thanks to the country’s blend of traditional and contemporary culture during the Meiji era.

Kenny, one of the other founders of the Tokyo Inventors Society, had this to say about steampunk in Japan. “I think Japanese ‘mottainai’ (“don’t be wasteful”) culture is a good influence on re-making and creating things from junk. I like that part of streampunk a lot.”

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Adding to Kenny’s comments, Luke explained that certain aspects of Japanese steampunk are still very new. “Aesthetically, Steam Garden really pioneered what we sometimes call the ‘wild east’ style of Steampunk, a more intense version of the Wa-yo-setyuu style of fusing East and West, and this seems to be inspiring a lot of the younger steampunks now to be proud of Japanese steampunk style, rather than copying a Victorian or American look.”

Now you’re probably wondering just what Steam Garden is. The event is actually only a few years old–it began in 2011 as little more than idea in a bar. As Luke put it, “We were sitting in a hookah bar sometime in 2011 and complaining about the lack of  decent steampunky, gonzo-historical kinda festivals in Japan.”

Most of our great ideas come in hookah bars,” Kenny quipped.

▼Kenny

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Regardless of where the idea came from, it looks like Steam Garden has developed quite the following. It even got started with a bit of a bang! When asked about the festival’s growth over the last four years, Kenny told us, “I thought the first one was going to be a small salon-party. Maybe 40 people. But we packed out a small nightclub. So we picked a bigger place next time, and filled it again. Every time it gets a little bigger. We are on the eighth one now.”

The next event, which is called “Meiji Democracy” is due to take place in just under two weeks on February 7 at Laforet in Harajuku from 2 pm to 7 pm. Admission isn’t exactly cheap at 4,000 yen (about $34) per person, but it promises to be quite the show.

If you’re on the fence about the price, this description from the Steam Garden FAQ should get you excited.

“During DJ and Salon time you can enjoy Hookah, sit and talk with the best-dressed, classiest and friendliest crowd of any event in Tokyo, and dance to adventurous neo-retro sounds from our DJ’s.

The entertainment, music and even booths at each event are carefully selected to match the theme of the episode, whether it is rodeo girls at a ‘Wild Wild West’ fashion show or Katana-wielding samurai and live Japanese traditional music for ‘Meiji Steam.’ The performers are always of top quality including Cirque du Soleil registered acrobats, professional swordfight choreographers, champion Shamisen players and more.”

Now, if you’re worried you don’t have anything to wear, Luke assures us that you don’t have to wear full-on steampunk or historical costume. It’s not entirely necessary, but he did add that “most of the attendees make one hell of an effort to look awesome,” so it may be worth at least throwing something quick together to really get into the spirit.

It’s all about having a sense of adventure!” Kenny added. “If you’ve got that, you’re 99% ready to go!”

Sounds good to us!

If you’re not going to be in Tokyo in two weeks but you really want to see the event, we have good news! We’ll be there taking photos, so you can look forward to a full report…as long as our time machine doesn’t break and leave us stranded in the Meiji period.

For more information about the event be sure to check out the Steam Garden website.

Y-3 Retro Boost in “Black/White”

The Y-3 Retro Boost is set to return this season in a clean black and white colorway. A high fashion rendition of adidas‘ reigning runner, the sneakers are constructed from a black, neoprene upper, over an off-white, speckled midsole. White accents such as adidas’ prominent three stripes on the back heel tab, lacelocks, and Yohji Yamamoto print match the sparkling white Boost outsole.

The sneakers are now available for purchase from Feature for the retail price of $350 USD.