We’ve all heard about Japan’s extraordinary ‘capsule hotels,’ but photographer Won Kim’s intimate photos give us a personal look at another set of tight living quarters – a hidden hotel in Tokyo that was designed as a guesthouse for backpackers.
Kim stumbled across the hotel when backpacking across Japan, and returned two years later to photograph it.
He lived there for several months, befriending residents and photographing the small, womb-like spaces that they call home.
The entire hotel is located on a single floor of an office building in north-east Tokyo. Some of the residents are short-term visitors while others, says Kim, are essentially permanent residents.
“For me, the real interest of the resulting portraits is in how each resident has made use of a such a small, confining space,” Kim writes. “In each case, the sharply-defined space and its contents tell something about its occupant’s personality, and his or her ability to function in such a strange, enclosed environment.
My name is Liam Wong, and I work in the video games industry as Graphic Design Director at Ubisoft, where I direct the ‘look and feel’ / visual identity for games.
Originally from Scotland, two and a half years into my career I moved to Canada.
Since then I have been lucky enough to travel the world through work and in the last year I started to get into photography as a way to capture these moments, creating my Instagram account as a photo diary.
I first visited Tokyo during the press tour for the game Far Cry 4 and I immediately fell in love with the city.
Ahead of my second trip, I purchased my first DSLR and took these pictures. Scrolling through my Instagram feed, you will notice a very distinctive change of direction.
I captured various parts of Tokyo, rarely venturing far from tourist spots.
Then one night it rained and the city came to life. I got lost in the beauty of Tokyo at night. I was fascinated by how the city lit up and I just kept taking picture after picture.
It was like being inside Gaspar Noé’s film, ‘Enter The Void’, or living in the cyberpunk world that Syd Mead had created in Ridley Scott’s ‘Blade Runner’.
After posting the pictures online, my following on Instagram increased overnight and since then I have been in different cities taking photos at night.
This beautiful polychrome woodblock print is a Meiji era copy (ca. 1900) of original designs (ca. 1771).
by Itō Jakuchū (1716–1800), A Japanese painter of the mid-Edo period notable for his striking modern aesthetic.
Born in Kyoto, Jakuchū was strongly influenced by Zen Buddhist ideals throughout his life and his name is taken from the Tao Te Ching and means “like the void”.
He was considered a koji (a lay brother) and he named his studio Shin’en-kan, which translates as “Villa of the Detached Heart [or Mind])”, a phrase included in a poem by the ancient Chinese poet Tao Qian.
For some super digitally enhanced versions check out these great offerings from RawPixel at The Metropolitan Museum
About a dozen fake food factories operate in Japan making plastic food replicas for restaurants and collectors alike.
One of the first pioneers of the replica food industry was the businessman Ryuzo Iwasaki, who began selling his creations in Osaka in 1932.
After achieving initial success in the big city, he moved back to his home town in Gifu prefecture and established what would eventually become a very real artificial food empire. Iwasaki Be-I, is still the biggest plastic food manufacturer in Japan, and controls 80% of the plastic food market.
Making plastic food is an art in itself, and the manufacturers fiercely guard their trade secrets. The process typically starts with the actual food which are brought to the factory from the restaurant or client to serve as the model.
Pictures are taken, sketches are made and a mould is prepared. Liquid vinyl chloride is poured into the mould and once hardened, the mould is taken apart and out comes the model.
These are then hand painted by talented craftsmen who examine every detail of the actual food and applies oil-based paints to the plastic using fine brushes.
The replicas reproduce every detail of the real food, from browning on bacon and eggs, to grill marks on chicken, or the difference between steaks cooked rare or medium.
Almost all food replicas are handcrafted to order, as the same dishes can differ in their shape, color or presentation at different restaurants.
If you want to get your hands on these food replicas as a souvenir, visit Kappabashi-dori – a street in Tokyo located between Ueno and Asakusa neighbourhood.
Nicknamed “Kitchen Town”, the street is lined with stores that caters to restaurant supplies including dishes, cooking utensils, bamboo trays, stoves, tables, chairs, and of course, plastic food replicas.
A participant wearing a fox mask takes part in the Oji Fox Parade to mark the new year on 1 January, 2019, in Tokyo, Japan.
The Oji Fox Parade was established in 1993 as a modern-day, living re-creation of an artwork that depicts the legend of how foxes from all over the Kanto region would gather beneath a large tree on New Year’s Eve in the area where Tokyo now stands.
They would don costumes and parade to the Oji Inari Shrine to mark the arrival of the new year.
The On-Line Museum and Encyclopedia of Vision Aids believes the Glasses above are the world’s oldest surviving pair of glasses.
Dating back to the 15th century, the glasses belonged to the Eighth Shogun, Yoshimasa Ashikaga, who reigned from 1449 to 1473, during the Muromachi period of Japanese history.
Both the glasses and their accompanying case were made of hand-carved white ivory.
Glasses were actually first invented, however, in Italy (some say Florence, to be precise) in 1286 or thereabouts.
In a sermon from 1306, a Dominican friar wrote: “It is not yet twenty years since there was found the art of making eyeglasses, which make for good vision… And it is so short a time that this new art, never before extant, was discovered.”
In the mid 14th century, paintings started to appear with people wearing eyeglasses.
Read on further via The World’s Oldest Surviving Pair of Glasses (Circa 1475) | Open Culture
On the island of Tashirojima, the cats outnumber people, and the people like it that way and it’s no accident.
The cats n Tashirojima, or what has become known as “Cat Island,” in Japan have come to be the island’s primary residents. Cats have long been thought by the locals to represent luck and good fortune, and doubly so if you feed and care for them.
Thus, the cats are treated like kings, and although most are feral because keeping them as “pets” is generally considered inappropriate, they are well-fed and well-cared-for.
Despite this, luck and fortune hasn’t exactly come to the human residents of “Cat Island.” In the last 50 years, the human population of the island has dwindled from 1,000 to fewer than 100.
As more and more people have shunned the island as it became dominated by felines, the people that have remained have become ever more protective of the cats.
Currently, dogs are not allowed on the island to protect the well-being of the cats – and presumably any dog foolish enough to venture onto an island full of feral cats.
The cats may end up bringing luck after all, however. Tourism has been picking up as the island has become an attraction for curious travelers, thanks to all of those cats.