Fantasy and utility in Japan

Motorbike in Japanese cookware shop, Tokyo

While on a design trip to Japan this March, I noticed this contraption in a cooking shop in the Tokyo kitchen supply district. It was a motorbike hung in an industrial hammock of pulleys, canvas and with WWII webbing. Of course.

Motorbike hung in canvas and webbing hammock from ceiling of kitchen shop in Asakusa, Tokyo.

The next day we came across this ikebana flower arrangement in Matsumoto City. It was in the window of a relatively conservative women’s fashion boutique. It’s twisted aluminum ducting and a branch of red berries in a shallow bowl, sitting inside a tiny window set 5 inches above the sidewalk.


Somehow it’s all done without seeming too precious, whimsical, quirky, arty, weird or self-consciously showy. This knack for integrating seemingly contradictory objects and materials into a harmonious, quietly fantastical whole was evident everywhere. And the architecture—I wish I could afford to bring the entire Vancouver City Planning Department over.

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