Ninja restaurant designer creates tiny villages in bonsai trees


RocketNews 24:


If you’ve ever wanted to see villages and merchant markets from your favorite role-playing games come to life, then we’ve got quite the collection for you. These are the amazing three-dimensional artworks of Takanori Aiba, a Japanese artist who also designed Ninja Akasaka, the famous ninja restaurant in Tokyo and the 1958-themed Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum.

Aiba is now drawing on his experience in architecture and combining it with his origins as a maze illustrator to produce stunning worlds within the tiny branches of bonsai trees and out of the crevices of unique rocks. From Ghibli-style seaside towns to a bustling hotel built inside the body of the Michelin man, these elaborate designs will simply take your breath away.

Takanori Aiba began his career in 1978 as a freelance maze illustrator, with his maze designs featured in Japanese fashion magazine POPEYE for ten years. In 1981, he turned his attention to designing art spaces, resulting in the hidden doors and surprising entrances of the Ninja Akasaka restaurant and the atmospheric alleyways of the Shin-Yokohama Museum. The breadth of his experience is clearly displayed in his latest project featuring these amazing miniature villages.



This one is called Hawaiian Pineapple Resort. Front, side and rear views show the elaborate attention to detail, with bridges and stairways leading the eye into the nooks and crannies of the building. If only tree houses like this existed in real life!




Hawaiian-Pineapple-Resort-with-Sunset (1)

The Lighthouse Series features two lighthouse designs, each created around two different Japanese suiseki.


Suiseki are small, naturally occurring rocks with unique shapes that resemble mountains, islands or waterfalls. They often reflect nature so perfectly they’re traditionally appreciated on their own in bowls or trays.


Aiba builds upon the natural lines and ridges of the suiseki to create his stunning designs.



Suiseki forms the basis of several other Aiba designs, including one for lovers of steam-punk called “The Rock Island”.






The vertical paradise below is known as “Ice Cream Packages Tower”. We pity the lighthouse keeper who has to walk up all those steps!




In an ode to Bibendum, more commonly know as The Michelin Man, Aiba takes inspiration from the company’s 1898 slogan, Nunc est bibendum, “Now is the time to drink”, once used to describe the Michelin tyre’s ability to “drink up obstacles”. This modern incarnation of Bibendum, entitled “Hôtel de Michelin”, suggests it’s still the time to drink, only now it’s inside the belly of the beast in an exquisite hotel.


The artwork he creates in the planning stages is just as beautiful and intricate as the final design.


Aiba’s bonsai designs play on the relationship between humans and nature. While traditional bonsai reflect the beauty of nature in miniature form, these artworks add themes of humanity and harmony to the continually evolving landscape.



Close-up views show the details on the street lamps, turrets and stairways. We can just imagine tiny workers treading the walkways and napping in shady corners of their homes!




Takanori Aiba has had an impressive career, continually using his creativity and imagination to surprise us in all sorts of different forms and mediums. We can’t wait to see where he takes us to next!

Sources: Tokyo Good IdeaBonsai Empire 


Tokyo’s Top 14 Weird Theme Bars

RocketNews 24:

Japan has more than its fair share of the delightfully bizarre. If you are looking to experience some of it first hand, with a frosty beverage in hand to help you embrace the weird, of course, check out this list of Tokyo’s top theme bars.

Mr. Kanso

This bizarrely popular bar offers customers a wide range of canned foods that they can eat on the spot from the can. Their shelves are stocked with foods from all over the world, from the ubiquitous Spam to more adventurous options like walrus curry, so you can try foods you know and have always wanted to try along with those you didn’t even know existed.

Dagashi Bar

The name of this bar could be translated as ‘Cheap Snacks Bar’ and that is exactly what they offer. The interior of the bar is designed to have a retro, Showa-era appeal and offers all-you-can-eat snacks for the nostalgic. A table charge of 500 yen (about $6 US) gets you access to the goodies and any other food and drink you order are changed separately.

Vowz Bar

No, this bar doesn’t have anything to do with marriage. It’s a play on words for the Japanese bouzu, or Buddhist priest. And your drink-slinger will in fact be a Buddhist priest. According to the website, their staff hail from various sects of Buddhism, so you can discuss the finer points of dogma while you get sloshed. Now that’s enlightened!


Japan has very restrictive gun laws, so you probably won’t even see one on a police officer while you’re here. If you get nostalgic for more heavily armed locales, there’s always HollowPoint. The only bar of its kind in Japan, HollowPoint let’s customers fire up in their special shooting range. Not to worry though, they’re just air guns, so they can’t do much damage. You’ll also get to choose from various targets to go all Jack Bauer on, including empty cans.

Planetarium Bar

If you have enough to drink, you can see stars at any bar, but Planetarium Bar lets you enjoy the stars without the hangover. The bar uses a planetarium projector capable of showing 5,000,000 distinct stars. The city lights mean you rarely see many stars, but now Tokyoites can get drunk under the stars without even leaving town!

Nakameguro Ping Pong Lounge

Some people just don’t like sitting still while they enjoy a beer and now those people can add ping pong to their repertoire of darts, pool and bowling. In an unassuming private residence near the station, you can do your best Ai Fukuhara impression and enjoy a few cold ones with your friends.

Aladdin and Hookahs

This one’s a twofer in honor of the twin names of the water pipe, the hookah and the shisha. Both of these fine establishments offer various flavored no-tar, low nicotine tobaccos for smoking while enjoying the over-the-top Middle Eastern decor. And the waitstaff aren’t too hard on the eyes either.

Ninja Akasaka

Is it a tourist trap? Probably. But is it loads of goofy fun? Most definitely! Who wouldn’t want to go to a ninja-themed restaurant? Nobody, that’s who! Not only will your waiter employ his ninja prowess in bringing your order, he’ll also do magic tricks for your entertainment.

Fishing Izakaya Zauo

It doesn’t get any fresher than this, folks. At this Japanese-style pub, you sit over a giant fish tank in a boat, catch your dinner and eat it on the spot. Staff say it’s not just delicious, it’s a feast for your eyes and a whole lot of fun too.

Little TGV

You’ve probably heard of maid cafes, and this place is along the same lines, if you’ll excuse the pun. Instead of maids, though, your waitress will be a cute train conductor! They also have tables made from train benches, food served in train-shaped dishes and model trains zipping about. Everything your inner train nerd desires!

Issey and Ginza 12 O’Clock

If you are looking for a magic night out in a quite literal sense, these two bars should be your destinations. A table charge will get you in the door for the evening magic shows and the magicians also make the rounds to do magic at your table. But with the cheapest table charges starting at 4,500 yen, just make sure they don’t make your wallet disappear…


If you’re familiar with Japanese entertainers, you will probably get a kick out of this bar. They put on two shows a night (3 on weekends) featuring impersonations of famous performers like Hikaru Utada and Mr. Children. Even if you aren’t that familiar with the Japanese pop culture, you might get lucky. Their website lists Michael Jackson, Bon Jovi and Elvis impersonators too.

Of course, this list only scratches the surface of the quirky smorgasbord that is Tokyo.

Via Naver Matome

Check out this link:

Tokyo’s Top 14 Weird Theme Bars