Pipilotti Rist Art Thief Hits Museum Men’s Room

Part of a media installation created by a Swiss visual artist has been stolen from the men’s room of the 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art in Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture, museum officials said.

Police are investigating the disappearance of the piece of artist Pipilotti Rist’s work.

The installation, entitled "You Renew You," is composed of an altar with an acrylic board and crystals and a video showing the conversion of food and drink within the body into blood and tears.

Read the rest of the story: Art thief hits museum men’s room.

Fukushima Plate Indicates How Radioactive Your Food Is

Plenty of Japanese people are worried about their food, so artist Nils Ferber’s conceptual Fukushima Plate, which features a "built-in radioactive meter to visualize your food’s level of contamination," could be pretty useful.

The plate features customizable radiation level settings, because Ferber says, "people perceive the risks and dangers of radioactive radiation very differently."

Read the rest of the story: Fukushima Plate Will Tell You How Radioactive Your Food Is.

Star of Kabuki barred for brawl

A star of traditional Japanese theater who called in sick, then went out drinking and ended up brawling in a bar apologized Tuesday for the scandal that has embarrassed the rarefied world of Kabuki.

Ebizo Ichikawa, 33, known as the "prince" of Kabuki, gave a televised news conference Tuesday hours after leaving a Tokyo hospital where he was treated for the facial injury sustained in the fracas that has riveted the nation for almost two weeks.

Originating in the 1600s, Kabuki is a stylized all-male theater that combines music, dance and acting to tell stories about samurai vendettas, love suicides and everyday city-life in performances that use outlandish facial makeup and elaborate costumes.

Although the audience still tends to be elderly, young performers like Ichikawa have revived interest in Kabuki in recent years by tackling TV shows and other works outside their genre.

Ichikawa, from one of the most respected kabuki families, has won fans with his telegenic look and powerful performance at home and abroad, including France, the U.S. and Australia.

But Ichikawa has been suspended indefinitely from performing Kabuki by theater operator Shochiku Co. following the incident at a celebrity bar in a ritzy Tokyo neighborhood on Nov. 25. He had been out drinking after skipping a daytime media event, citing health reasons.

Read the rest of the story: Star of traditional Japan theater barred for brawl.


‘Kyarabens’ Tutorial

Hexagon Bento

If you are looking for a Japanese art form to explore but haven’t found a traditional art to your taste, you might want to try the art of Kyaraben, also known as Charaben, short for “Character Bentos”.

These are bentos where the assortment of foods to go in the lunch box are made in the shapes of your favorite animation characters.  If you develop a flair, you may even want to branch into landscape-bens, portrait-bens, or even abstra-bens.  The latter three being as yet unexplored bento art territory.

Sketch for Hexagon Character Bento by Y.

To make this 100% edible art, start with a sketch of your favorite character.  From Hello Kitty to Hexa-kun (the character from the well-known television quiz show, Hexagon),  the world’s your oyster and any vegetable, fish cake, meat morsel or seaweed  sheets can form the materials.

You will find a scissor helpful for cutting seaweed; and straws are good to punch small circles in slices of ham or cheese that can be used as buttons, on faces, as polkadots, etc.

Think about your palette, and how to make colors from plain white rice adding such condiments as tomato ketchup, mentaiko or pink fish powders, or an autumn orange using pumpkin.

Color variations for egg omelette
cutting holes in cheese with the end of a straw

Bento artist at work
Koala March Ben

Sharpen your knives, get out your bento supplies, and discover that you too can sculpt rice into onigiri of various shapes and sizes that can be wrapped with colorful tastes to resemble your favorite characters.

The bentos pictured are made by my daughter,  11-year old Y., who is getting an early start in the art.  She made these bentos  for her fall school excursions (ensokus).   BTW, the Chara-bens are also ECO and can be adapted for all ages.  If you enjoy this art, you might be inclined to use your own bento more and purchase the disposable variety less.


Aikawarazu Life in Japan


Tomare–Astor Place

One of the things I love about Japan is that the ground is painted like a giant asphalt canvas, with street signs in bright colors like the “TOMARE” which means “STOP” for cars.

One of the things I love about New York, is that anything goes, and new meanings can be found for just about anything.

What would happen if we painted “TOMARE” on the streets, and underneath it wrote the word “LOVE”.

Living in Japan , in a way, helps me to find the freedom to be who I am by living in an environment where meaning takes on new meaning in a kind of abstract sort of way.

This summer on a visit to New York, I brought my “TOMARE” Yoga mat with me and reached for the sky.


TOMARE–Have Mat, Will Travel

Tomare Yoga Mat, anywhere you go

(or, Home is Where the Mat Is)

This summer I came to the multi-culti realization that, for me, home is where the mat is.

After living in Oita City the same number of years (past the decade mark) as New York City (where I resided before Japan), I realize that home is no longer a country or a town.

I found that a 60 cm X 180 cm space that I can roll up and carry with me does the trick to let me find my center, and to be at home wherever I am.

Stop and find your center.  Let your energy radiate out from the heart,

is the motto of a yoga mat I designed this year, based on the Japanese kanji,, (tomare, pronounced toe-ma-ray),which means STOP.

I was attracted to this stop sign since I moved to Japan eleven years ago.  Over the years I drew Tomare, painted Tomare, and made a 3-D Tomare bench as a stopping place.  The yoga mat is a medium which finally brought the message home for me.

The radiant sun in the center of the design represents the heart.

When I STOP long enough I can watch my breath, and slow down into yoga postures that help me connect to the world around me— standing in front of my favorite tree in a field in Yufuin, or in front of an abstract square sculpture in the middle of New York City; looking up to the sky, watching as buildings touch the clouds, or staring at a clear blue expanse of sea.

To STOP is to connect to a stillness which at the same time is always in movement.

It took me a long time to pause on my journey long enough to feel this.  “TOMARE” continues to teach me and point me in the way to new “Starts”.

Where do you feel most at home?




To order a Tomare Yoga Mat, http://jgy.bigcartel.com/

For interest in collaborating on “Tomare’s around the World” or sponsor this project-in-the-planning, please ‘stop’ by.

Shun Oguri to star in stage version of “A Clockwork Orange”

Actor Shun Oguri (27) will star in a stage version of the Anthony Burgess novel "A Clockwork Orange," set to be performed early next year. This will be the first time that the story is adapted for the stage in Japan.

The best known adaptation of "A Clockwork Orange" is Stanley Kubrick’s film in 1971. However, it has also received multiple theatrical adaptations in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States.

According to Horipro, which is handling the production of the play, there have been plans to adapt the book to stage previously in Japan, but an appropriate actor for the brutal character of Alex could not be found. But after Oguri’s roles in the "Crows ZERO" movies and in the stage version of "Caligula," Horipro felt he fit the part and gave him an offer last summer.

Masahiko Kawahara will direct. Performances are scheduled to start in January 2011.

Free admission to the Kyoto International Manga Museum This Week

Currently the museum is exhibiting “She Draws Comics: 100 Years of American Women Cartoonists” with Wednesday the 27th of January being a special open day for the museum with the opening of the Kyoto Seika University Graduation Exhibition. Student works will be on display. Also, from Wednesday the 27th to Sunday the 31st of January during the Kyoto Seika University Graduation Exhibition admission to the museum will be free.

Tomare–the new peace sign for the 2010’s?!

How does a symbol become a universal symbol?

Like the peace sign and the smiley face.  How would one read a peace sign before having the knowledge that it is a peace sign.

If you don’t know Japanese what would this sign mean to you?

And if you know Japanese and know it is derived from a stop sign painted on the road for cars, could you look at it a-new, with fresh eyes, and see it as meaning START?

Stop and find your center.

Let your energy radiate out from your heart.