An sculpture by Jaume Plensa, an artist born in Barcelona, decorates the outside part of Toranomon Hills, one of the most emblematic buildings in Tokyo. The structure is 10 meters high and at night the illumination from within brings a magical touch to the gardens.
I was not aware of the existence of Hebocon, but then just today I found the video shown below. Hebocon is a robot competition in which the important thing is not to have the most sophisticated robot as in the Robocup, what matters is the originality and above all the crappiness of the robots. In fact “Hebo” ヘボ, within the name of the competition “Hebocon”, means “Crappy”.
The rules are so simple that even kids younger than 10 years old participate.
Lexus (Toyota) has just launched this teaser video to show an hoverboard similar to those that appeared on Back to the Future. It looks like magic but it’s just the meissner effect in action. The surface looks like concrete but it isn’t.
Toyota is promising to explain how it works in the official website of the project.
Tama the cat is probably the most famous cat in Japan. So popular that her recent death just after turning 16 years old has been important news in Asahi, one of the most read newspapers here.
Tama was an abandoned cat that used to live around the Kishi station in Wakayama. With the passing of time the neighbors liked her so much that in 2007 they made her the “Station Chief”. The station was remodeled with a cat shape and the trains were decorated with Tama drawings.
Since Tama became the station chief, the amount of travellers has risen and the economy of the area has improved. After her death, probably one of her two assistant cats Miko or Chibi will replace her as the station chief.
Strolling around the forests of Karuizawa we bumped into this warning sign… Batman?
Musasabi are giant Japanese squirrels that can jump from branch to branch by gliding in the air for up to 100 meters. They are abundant in forests all over Japan and some parts of China. The warning signs are usually found near roads and trails so that people are not surprised if they land on their car. Musasabi live mostly during the night and are rarely seen during the day. Below you can see some Musasabi photos that I’ve found in a blog from Karuizawa
Of course, there had to be an arcade that simulates the flights of the Musasabi
Musasabi remind me a lot of the wingsuit flying humans that are very popular lately.
What makes the streets of a place feel distinct from other places? For the people that get to Japan for the first time the change is so radical that almost any element in the environment feels different: lamp posts, hanging power lines, manhole covers, neon advertising, kanjis, the nets to cover the trash that have been ripped by crows… But with the passing of time you get used to everything and it’s difficult to find “flavor” in those small details that make everything. You start feeling like a fish that has never escaped out of the sea. With the passing of time I have lost the sensitivity to the local charms, much more stuff catches my attention walking in the streets outside of Japan than in here.
Even so, I have realized observing my photos that there are some topics that are always there. There are details that I capture repeatedly with my cameras, not getting tired of them, even after many years have passed. One of these obsessions that emerge in my subconscious are the yellow lines that populate the sidewalks and subway stations in Japan.
The yellow lines are used by blind people to find their way around, feeling them with their canes or just by stepping on them. They are also useful to know how close in the platform you can get to the trains. “It is dangerous. Wait behind the yellow line” “危ないですから、黄色線までおさがりください” – you can hear every time a train is approaching the platform.
My yellow “art” was present this year at the Tokyo Art Fair thanks to a contribution of artist Yoshiko Brigitte. It was strange for me to see strangers stopping by to contemplate one of those yellow lines that I captured with my camera almost ten years ago under the rain.