An example of Takesensuji bamboo ware from Shizuoka Prefecture, the narrow glass vase is held between two frames of fine bamboo lattice. The lattice frames may be oriented either horizontally or vertically.
Traditional yet modern, it's a work of art even without a flower. [US$ 34]
Ikebukuro's Lumine department store is under alien invasion. Like ectoplasm, scarlet and pink knitting creeps over chairs and potted plants in a relaxation area, along balustrades near the escalators, up stepladders and around overhead signs.
According to artist Saki Chikaraishi, it's an invasion by the addi UFO, the Knitter in the Sky, a friendly alien who performs cattle mutilations in between wrapping the entire world in plain and purl. Chikaraishi acts as the alien's accomplice, spreading color, warmth and fluffiness over minimalist indoor spaces and cold concrete urban design. These invasions are part installation, part performance art, as the artist herself, dressed in a knitted NASA space suit, knits the piece on site.
At the recent invasion, Chikaraishi was busy weaving crocheted ropes around a store sign suspended from the ceiling. The wool is pre-knitted into long thin chains that are then wrapped around store furniture and fixtures. Unlike the murderous alien colonizers of old Sci-Fi films or the lizard people beloved of conspiracy theorists, these aliens are more like the Tribbles, the cute soft-toy creatures from the cheesy Star Trek episode. Scarlet wool aliens already cover a sofa seat and a balcony handrail, and other red inflorescences bloom like exotic flowers among the foliage plants.
You need special filter glasses to see "Tranceflora - Amy's Glowing Silk," the latest conceptual art-fashion installation by Sputniko! at the Gucci store in Shinjuku until May 17.
According to Sputniko!, aka conceptual multimedia artist Hiromi Ozaki, Amy is a young woman dressed to impress, like the Greek goddess Aphrodite (Venus in Roman mythology). While Aphrodite emerged naked from the sea, Amy wears a futuristic mini kimono and thigh-high boots of fluorescent silk. Since her debut with "Menstruation Machine" in 2010, the artist has specialized in the crossover between high fashion and high-tech development, and effortlessly welds myth, fashion and science with multimedia conceptual art.
As you enter the third-floor space, it seems as if you're walking into a dark forest clearing illuminated by a swarm of glow worms and fireflies congregating near a spooky, disembodied kimono jacket and fetish boots. It's only when you view the work through filtered lenses that the colors emerge - the dots are green and red silk cocoons, and the clothes are covered with an organic green floral pattern.
Without the glasses, the effect is like entering a black-lighted club, where everything white (eyes, teeth, even dandruff) suddenly pops with luminous intensity. With the glasses, you enter a trippy 3D, sci-fi world where high fashion meets Blade Runner. (According to the Gucci staff, the works are lit by blue LEDs and the glasses contain orange filter lenses.)
The clothes are really sensational. The short, layered kimono jacket with belt, thigh-high fetish boots with huge wing flaps, and skimpy pair of knickers float in the air like a glamorous alien that has been only partially beamed up on the Star Trek transporter. She's either a dream or a nightmare, depending on your taste in disembodied clothes.
It's official: things were better in the old days. When Beat Sonic sought crowd-funding for its new LED lights that look like old-school filament bulbs, the target of 1.5m yen was oversubscribed almost tenfold.
The clear light bulbs have orangey LED filaments that give out a toasty nostalgic glow, completely unlike the cold brightness of neon or fluorescent. With prices ranging from $30 to $55, these babies aren't cheap, but it seems there are plenty of nostalgic fans in Japan who want to illuminate their snugs with filament bulbs while listening to analog records on the gramophone and watching the flames flicker on a gas fire in the hearth.
Their pointless porcelain frames are filled with junk electronic parts, their buttons and switches control nothing apart from uselessly flickering lights.
Prices start at 60,000 yen ($600) for a small Robodo, and while that may seem expensive, it's a small price to pay for the peace of mind of knowing that these feckless bots will always obey Asimov's Three Laws of Robotics.
Traditionally, chochin lanterns, mostly found outside yakitori restaurants and other izakaya, have come in one design - red and black. The Suzumo brand is changing all of that with its line of paper lanterns designed by Mic Itaya.