An axis for artistic and creative-types of the Asian persuasian… Redefining Otaku Culture.

Air Bonsai: Levitating magnetic bonsai trees by Hoshinchu

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Despite the visual beauty and life-giving nature of plants, there’s always been one main problem with our vegetative friends: plants can’t fly. A small company called Hoshinchu based out of Kyushu, Japan, recently set out to fix the problem that evolution forgot by inventing the Air Bonsai, a system for magnetically levitating small bonsai trees several inches above a small electrified pedestal. The system allows you to create your own miniature Avatar-like worlds with tiny trees or shrubs planted in balls of moss, but is also powerful enough to suspend special ceramic dishes of fragments of lava rock.

Air Bonsai is currently funding like crazy on Kickstarter and is availble in a number of configurations starting with a base DIY kit for $200 that requires you to use your own plants up to more elaborate designs that may only ship in Japan.

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Exhibit in Kyoto features collaboration of anime and 400-year-old Rinpa school of painting

 

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RocketNews 24 (by Kay):

This is what happens when you combine centuries-old traditional Japanese painting with modern anime, and we love it!

If you’re interested in traditional Japanese art, you may be familiar with the Rinpa school of painting, which has a history that can be traced all the way back to the 17th century. It so happens that this year marks the 400th anniversary since one of the school’s founders, Hon’ami Kōetsu, established an artistic community (geijutsumura) in the Takagamine area of Kyoto, and an exciting commemorative event titled the “Rinpa x Anime Homage Exhibit” is now going on in the very same city of Kyoto, courtesy of brilliant artwork produced by the anime/comic merchandise retailer CHARA-ANI.

But before we go on, here’s a little bit more background on Rinpa art. The Rinpa school, which has a heavy emphasis on painting but also includes other crafts such as ceramics and lacquerware as well as calligraphy, is thought to have been founded by Hon’ami Kōetsu and Tawaraya Sōtatsu around the early 17th century and later consolidated in the latter half of the century by the prominent artist brothers  Ogata Kōrin and Ogata Kenzan. The name Rinpa is actually a combination of the last syllable of Kōrin’s name and the word “pa” for school.

The school’s art style is known for its bold design compositions, use of silver and gold leaf in the background, and repeated use of recognizable patterns. While natural scenes including flowers and trees are often depicted, animals and people from folktales are also common subjects, like the deities depicted in the famous ”Wind and Thunder Gods” folding screens (Fūjin Raijin-zu) by Sōtatsu.

▼ The magnificent Wind and Thunder Gods folding screen by Sōtatsu:

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So, taking all of that into consideration, we think you’ll understand why we might be excited by the idea of a collaboration between anime and the Rinpa school, which has a history of producing such notable works of art. And what’s attracting particular attention in this “Rinpa x Anime Homage Exhibit” are the works featuring the long-loved characters created by the manga master Osamu Tezuka himself!

The glittering gold and silver, along with the texture of Japanese paper, have turned Tezuka’s characters into breathtaking, timeless works of art.

▼ Here’s Tezuka’s phoenix (Hi no Tori), a perfect subject for Rinpa-style art, depicted in brilliant gold.

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▼ The father and son lion duo from Kimba the White Lion (Jungle Taitei) looks full of life in this piece.

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In addition to the collaboration with Tezuka anime, you’ll also be able to see on display Rinpa-style art featuring the busy-as-ever Hello Kitty, as well as characters from Lucky Star (Raki☆Suta).

The best part is that you can actually order and purchase some of these illustrations at the exhibit, and they apparently have some stationery and smartphone accessories on sale as well.

The Rinpa x Anime Homage Exhibit will run at the Kyoto Loft department store in the Mina Kyoto shopping complex until January 17, 2016 (except for January 1, when Mina Kyoto will be closed). It could be a fun destination for art and anime fans who are in Kyoto for the new year!

Source: CHARA-ANI websitePR TIMES press release

Ikenaga Yasunari’s dream-like paintings of women using the traditional Japanese style of Nihonga

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Beautiful Decay (by Hayley Evans): 

Ikenaga Yasunari paints tranquil portraits of women immersed in elegant floral patterns. His work is a curious blend of traditional Japanese-style paintings (nihonga) and modern imagery. Whereas nihonga manifests itself in Yasunari’s bold, monochromatic contrasts and the absence of outlines in the patterns, the subjects are all donned in modern clothing, and their hair and makeup also convey a distinctly contemporary style. Yasunari’s chosen materials are based in tradition, involving a combination of sumi-ink (soot ink) and mineral pigments painted on linen cloth. In exploring modern subjects using traditional techniques, he reinvests an older cultural, artistic practice with an ongoing significance.

The beauty of Yasunari’s work arrives in the interplay between complexity and serenity; much like Gustav Klimt’s decorative paintings wherein patterns coalesce around a highlighted female figure, Yasunari’s works strike a balance between the undulating, seamless background and the subject embraced in its flow. The gentle sepia tones likewise enhance the paintings’ quiet, almost autumnal, atmosphere. Blending gentle imagery with harmonious compositions, Yasunari’s works are meditative portraits embodying youth, reverie, and dreams.

Visit Yasunari’s website to view more of his works.

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Animated GIFs illustrate traditional Japanese woodblock prints with humor

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Beautiful Decay (by Tamar Akcay): 

Segawa 37 pays tribute to Japanese art by creating GIFs from the original work of traditional Japanese woodblock prints, “pictures of the floating world’.

Originally, Japanese woodblock paintings, also called Ukiyo-e, were depictions of everyday scenes in Japan. Affordable, they represented the possibility for the mass to access art. Segawa 37 gives a new life to these prints by altering their core. From hyper realistic to surreal, the artist offers to the modern world a new way of looking at a classic form of art. 

The most emblematic representation of Japan, a contemplation of movements; calm and serene, but always intense remains within those wooden prints. The artist’s reinterpretation of Katsushika Hokusai’s images is disturbing the stillness and tranquility of the scenes… What is meant to be admired in almost a meditative state is now entertaining.

Discover Segawa 37’ series of Gifs on the GifMagazine award page sponsored by Adobe.

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Massive ‘Star Wars’ tambo āto artwork displayed in Japanese village’s rice paddy field

With the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens at the end of this year, a Japanese village has decided to pay homage to the iconic space film franchise by George Lucas. The Inakadate Village in Aomori Prefecture has created an elaborate display in their paddy field dedicated to the series, with the Star Wars logo prominently displayed with C-3PO and R2-D2. The traditional Japanese art form is formally called tambo āto, where images are illustrated by arranging rice patches in paddy fields.

Enjoy the video above.

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Nintendo celebrates its roots with traditional Japanese art stylings of their most famous characters

 

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RocketNews 24:

 

With global phenomenon like the Mario and Pokemon franchises under their belts, it’s easy to forget about Nintendo’s humble beginnings as a producer of traditional Japanese playing cards. This year the company goes back to their roots in their 2014 company brochure with beautiful artwork that celebrates both the old and the new.

Below is the hardcover book that Nintendo is distributing to students looking to work for their company. The contents are updated every year, and they’re always coming up with new ideas for it. This year it features vibrant full-page spreads of Nintendo’s iconic products from across the years, all strikingly worked in a bold and traditional art style. Judging by the Twitter comments it seems that there are people who apply every year just to get their hands on these annual brochures, and we can understand why: this one is so beautiful it looks like a collector’s item.

 

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The art style used in this year’s edition mimics the traditional hanafuda style. Hanafuda are Japanese playing cards, which can be literally translated as ‘flower cards’, which feature stylized designs of Japan’s flora and fauna divided into 12 months with 4 cards per month.

▼ This Mario and Luigi illustration is a fusion of the newest iterations of the characters, with traditional card designs in the background.

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And there’s a reason behind the hanafuda motif other than just looking really cool: many years ago, Nintendo actually began life as a playing card company! Nintendo was established in 1889 by Fusajiro Yamauchi as a company that made and sold hand-made hanafuda cards painted on mulberry tree bark. The whole brochure is an homage to Nintendo’s roots, showcasing their products from their modest beginnings back in the Showa period, up to the modern day where the company has become world-famous as a trailblazer in the entertainment arena.

 

▼ The brochure takes us through from old-school analog games to technological breakthroughs like their first video game consoles.

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▼ Hanafuda are still sold today under Nintendo’s brand name! This is their most popular set, the ‘daitoryo‘.

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As well as their traditional set, Nintendo has also released several character card sets that are sure to charm general card fans and Nintendo fans alike.

 

▼ Each card in this set features a character from the Mario franchise.

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▼ And here we have Pokemon, headed of course by everyone’s favourite electric rodent Pikachu.

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▼ These bright and bold designs feature adorable Pokemon hiding in amongst the plants you’d expect to find in a usual deck.

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Check out this link:

Nintendo celebrates its roots with traditional Japanese art stylings of their most famous characters

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Artist imagines what “Game of Thrones” would look like in feudal Japan

 

RocketNews 24: 

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Check out these renderings recreating some of its more memorable scenes from the hit show Game of Thrones, in the style of Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints, with all of its favorite characters looking like they reside in feudal Japan rather than Westeros.

I thought it would be interesting to draw a retelling of the ASOIAF [A Song of Ice and Fire] universe as if it took place in feudal-era Japan,” writes talented creator Seiji on his Imgur account alongside his images. “These drawings are inspired by the Ukiyo-e style.”

Seiji has done a stunning job of bringing George R. R. Martin’s high-fantasy series to historical Japan, with a handful of standout scenes accurately portrayed and yet not looking in the slightest bit out-of-place despite the abundance of top-knots, kanji characters and pale-faced ladies.

▼ Here we see Jon Snow locking swords with Qhorin Halfhand
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▼ Bran Stark being carried by his faithful servant, HodorScreen Shot 2014-01-21 at 1.17.12 PM

▼ Tyrion Lannister being taken to a very Japanese-looking Erie castle

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▼ And the aforementioned “blonde girl” Daenyerys Targaryen with her dragonsScreen Shot 2014-01-21 at 1.17.48 PM

Seiji has more feudal Japan-themed Game of Thrones works to pore over, so head over to his page on Imgur now to see them!

Source: Seiji

 

Check out this link:

Artist imagines what “Game of Thrones” would look like in feudal Japan