This Japanese A-frame structure looks like a cozy Ghibli movie home got a modern yet minimal makeover!

Japanese architecture is the epitome of minimalism and warmth, especially when it takes shape as an A-frame cabin. The Japanese culture and lifestyle have many deep-rooted practices about reducing waste, using only what you need, and living with essentials but not necessarily without luxury. All of these elements are seen in Hara House, an A-frame cabin that is all about minimizing your footprint, being efficient, and using as little material as possible. It was designed for a young couple who wanted a new home in a small agricultural village about four hours north of Tokyo that would restore the fading communal connection that they were witnessing.

Hara House is built out of 5-inch square timbers set 6 feet apart. A tent-like white steel rooftop the home mixes private spaces with a semipublic, open-air living and dining area – a stiff, yet giving structure that assimilates all human behaviors. “The estate already contained an assemblage of buildings and farmland that depended on one another. Our design direction was to create a home that revitalized these on-site structures and had the potential to adapt to new functions as the need or mood changed,” explains architect Takayuki Shimada.

The A-frame structure draped over a rectangular interior volume was the solution to create that semi-public space the couple desired. A set of parallel glass doors in the central living/dining room allows air to flow through the home and connect the residents with neighbors passing along the adjacent street. Instead of a traditional self-reliant building, Hara House is a space where workshops, meetings, and events can spill out onto the land and open the home to the village.

Two parallel pitches expose the central living and dining room to the outside air via sliding glass doors. The low openings give the impression of a tent that’s been propped up to reveal what’s going on inside and is reminiscent of older Japanese architecture. An open space on one side of the structure serves as an entrance and an informal gathering spot for the community while the covered, veranda-like spaces on both sides provide shady areas to sit and relax. The heart of Hara House is the large living/dining area that simple radiates warmth!

At one end of the first floor, a small bedroom and a bathroom create a private living area for the family. There is a loft area above that features a cozy workspace. The sleeping zone is on the first floor which has a spacious master bedroom. Interiors feature minimalist shelves for storage and a large pane of glass brightens the space as well as the loft above. Hara House’s high ceiling creates the traditional tent-like vibe, while the raised platform serves as seating as well as additional storage space.

“We started our design by conceptualizing the building as incomplete. The home should invite people from the village to utilize it, thus becoming part of the community. By establishing this type of architecture, with its blank canvas, a space is born that establishes itself as an attraction of interest and activity,” says Shimada. Hara House looks like a house from a Ghibli movie but with a modern makeover that doesn’t strip the magic from a wooden A-frame structure. It is reminiscent of a glowing lantern in the night that welcomes the community into a safe space.

Designer: Takeru Shoji Architects

The post This Japanese A-frame structure looks like a cozy Ghibli movie home got a modern yet minimal makeover! first appeared on Yanko Design.

Honda announced an e-scooter with a roof so people can deliver parcels even in the rain

With a canopy that provides shelter against rain or even direct sun in some cases, the Gyro Canopy e is Honda’s revamp of its popular Gyro three-wheeled business-scooter line. The new Canopy e looks rather similar to a concept Honda debuted back at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show, but now features a much more detailed design that looks like the company’s serious about putting the vehicle into production. Notably, the Canopy e even comes with an electric powertrain, and more importantly, swappable batteries that allow delivery personnel to swiftly and easily swap out batteries instead of waiting to recharge them.

Currently exclusive to Japan (where it’s classed as a moped), the Gyro Canopy e comes with seating for one, with a cargo tray at the back. To give the rider stability, the moped sport three wheels (like a tricycle) while still maintaining a relatively slim profile that’s perfect for zipping through narrow streets and bylanes. If the rider finds themselves in a bit of a jam, the Canopy e even has a reverse gear to back out of traffic, potentially bad roads, and other sticky situations. Finally, as its name suggests, the Canopy e comes with a canopy that sprawls from the front all the way to the back. Sure, it leaves most of the sides exposed, but its profile is perfect to block out most of the rain that would hit a rider from the front as they drive forwards. The front of the canopy (or the windshield) even has a wiper to ensure perfect visibility in bad weather.

Perfect for intra-city deliveries (be it food, mail parcels, or even logistical use), the electric trike comes with a range of 77 kilometers (48 miles) on a full charge, with an average speed of 30 km/h (18.6 mph), which sounds about right considering it’ll be operating within city zones and catering to internal speed limits. For now, the Honda Gyro Canopy e comes in 2 color options (white and red), with a pretty sizable price tag of 715,000 yen, or around $6,295… something that may sound pretty high for the individual, but shouldn’t cost much for businesses, who will probably buy the scooters in bulk.

Designer: Honda

Japanese-inspired Tiny Homes that incorporate our favorite aesthetic + micro-living trends!

If there’s one architectural trend that’s blown up like anything, but is definitely here to stay now – it’s tiny homes! There’s really nothing we love more than tiny homes…except maybe Japanese tiny homes! There’s something about Japanese-inspired tiny homes that instantly soothes your soul, and envelops you in a warm and fuzzy feeling. Maybe it’s the unique minimalism, the timeless elegance, the artful usage of wood, or simply the zen-like essence of the structures. Whatever it may be, whenever I come across these mini structures, I instantly feel like making it my home, or else I feel like Marie Kondo-ing my own home and giving it a makeover, hoping to integrate some of the clean and clear Japan design philosophy I just encountered. In this spirit of admiration for Japanese architecture + tiny homes, we’ve curated a collection of designs that integrate both the trends we love so dearly!

Minima is a 215-square-foot (20-square-meter) prefab module designed to be a flexible structure to serve as a standalone tiny home or as an additional unit in the backyard that can be used as a home office or spacious guest house. It is constructed with CLT (cross-laminated timber) which is a sustainable material and cuts down on the carbon emissions that concrete produces. The modern micro-home is giving me major Japandi vibes! The boxy exterior is clad with a skin of cypress battens and a steel roof which maintains its minimal look. The unit has a streamlined, modern profile that still feels warm and human-centric.

Japanese architect and architectural historian Terunobu Fujimori is known for his quirky teahouses and fondness for unusual city structures. His latest tea house transports an elf’s cottage from the pages of a fairytale to the concrete of Tokyo. Featuring grassy facades, timber treated with yakisugi, and a lofty vista point, the teahouse, called Goan, is sightly positioned in front of the new National Stadium of Tokyo where it remained until 5 September 2021 in celebration of the 2020 Summer Olympics.

Designed by Arbol, The House in Akashi is a minimal bungalow created from timber, placed in a quaint neighborhood. The home’s most intriguing feature is the three artfully hidden interior courtyards, which can be used for growing food and drying laundry. The courtyards form the central section of the home, with the remaining space and rooms facing towards them. Subtle openings and slits in the wooden facade allow one to look out into the street, and also bring in natural ventilation and lighting into the home. The entire home seems to be lacking doors, with each space flowing freely into another, with only small steps or changes in the floor finishing to create a differentiation between them.

The Zen Suite’s central circle is enclosed in curved wooden walls and Japanese-inspired accents like tatami floor mats. The pod itself measures 150 square feet with an additional 220 square feet provided by the connected terrace. The eco-pods, bath boxes, and platforms are all prefabricated. Imagine waking up and seeing sweeping views of the mountains from your bed! Then you proceed to the wooden spa-like bathroom which has been locally made to minimize waste and transportation. The bathroom features an Ozone system that filters water without the use of harmful chemicals. And to finish up your luxury experience there is a beautiful circular bathtub that also allows you to continue taking in the breathtaking views while washing the tiredness away.

The Japanese studio Takeru Shoji Architects created a tent-shaped home named Hara Hara in an agricultural village in Nagaoka, Niigata Prefecture. Designed to look like a tent, the home was created with multiple openings, inculcating a direct connection with the neighborhood and surroundings, allowing neighbors to stop by and have a quick chat in ease. The client wanted an open and welcoming home, that encouraged free-flowing communication with the surrounding buildings. Hara Hara is a simple and minimal two-story home built from timber, with a sloping triangular roof, adding to the tent-like impression of the home. Workshops, events, meetings and other gatherings held in the home can easily extend beyond the house as well, creating an extensive, engaging, and communal space where people can conveniently meet, connect and interact.

The Cardboard Sleep Capsule was designed for those experiencing displacement from natural disasters like earthquakes or medical emergencies, including those related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Atelier OPA constructed the Cardboard Sleep Capsule to unfold into two floors, containing two sleeping areas, a set of stairs, and a separate working space equipped with a desk and chair. The capsule shelter comes prefabricated with a foldable design, comprising a compact shipping size when folded, shrinking down to ¼ the size of its unfolded dimensions. Carrying such a small folded size, the Cardboard Sleep Capsule has been received positively by international governments, who have thought of storing the cardboard castles away before use in public gymnasiums and emergency arenas.

At the foot of the rolling hills in Miyazaki, Japan sits a minimalist black house designed by Atelier Kento Eto for a family of four. This black house blends in with the scenic mountains and at the same time stands out in the neighborhood of Kadogawa. The modern loft is wrapped in black corrugated iron and is a perfect square 8×8 meter cube that reveals little from the outside. The dark exterior is a contrast to the bright white interiors that open up to the light and nature with two large sliding doors. The client wanted to accommodate their desire to host their friends into the floor plan so the house has been built around a double-height entertaining area which is where the gatherings will happen. The ground floor features an open plan living, kitchen, and dining area on one side and a bathroom, washroom, and storage area on the other side.

Muji released a single-story prefabricated home called Yō no Ie. The home features a large outdoor deck, that encourages indoor-outdoor living. The little home was designed to be placed in rural settings and meets the increasing demand for low-profile homes in the Japanese suburbs. The 74-square-meter home allows you to spend time in gardens and connect with nature, which is usually almost impossible in urban areas. The minimal home reflects Muji’s design philosophy, and features pale wood floors and white walls.

Four Leaves Villa designed by Kentaro Ishida Architects Studio (KIAS) is a form of organic architecture with a gently twisted, multi-tiered roof that mimics the sloping curve of fallen leaves and a central garden courtyard, the home’s concealed centerpiece. The living and dining areas face southeast to collect pools of natural sunlight, brightening each room during the day for meals and social gatherings. Then, the bedrooms are posed west to catch views of the forest’s dense brushwood that provides a sense of privacy during the day and coziness at night.

A simple home in Shiga gets elevated with an indoor garden, that extends upwards to become sunlight. Designed by Hearth Architects, the Kyomachi House is located in Koga, Japan. The skylight covers a curved patch in the center of the space and the tall plants provide the residents with privacy from the street and providing natural ventilation. “It plays a role as a sunshade in leafy summer and as letting the sunshine in non-leafy winter,” said the studio. “The clients can enjoy the change of the seasons and time through the symbolic tree. There is a symbolic deciduous tree in the inner garden, which is visible from anywhere inside.”

Ramen-Flavored Sodas: Yuck or Yum?

Ramen is delicious. While I much prefer the taste of fresh-cooked noodles and meats at a Japanese restaurant, instant ramen will do in a pinch. Nissin Cup Noodles are a staple among college kids, bachelors, and lazy cooks everywhere. Now you can enjoy the taste of Cup Noodles without even boiling water or eating noodles for that matter.

To celebrate 50 years of Cup Noodles, Nissin is selling a collection of four carbonated beverages in ramen broth flavors Cup Noodle, Seafood, Curry, and Chili Tomato. I’m assuming I can’t drink the seafood soda because of my shellfish allergy. Also, it sounds disgusting. That said, I’m sure somebody out there thinks it sounds yummy.

If you’re feeling adventurous and have a friend in Japan who can order for you, they’re available as part of a special bundle over on Amazon Japan, where you can also find recipes for cocktails made with Cup Noodles sodas.

[via Neatorama]

If Animals Were Made from Bread

Bread was meant to be eaten, right? Well, what if your bread had four legs and was kind of adorable? Would you become gluten-free right then and there? I might think twice, but probably not. These wacky toys are based on the concept of “Living bread.” The design for the quadruped bread started as a collection of handmade wool-felted creations by Atelier Hatena.

Apparently, the idea was so popular that they decided to make a series of less expensive bread “Gashopon” – which are the kinds of cheap collectibles you might find in toy capsule vending machines in Japan. The plastic toy series includes toast, pretzel, croissant, dinner roll, French, and pineapple bread, and every single one of them looks good enough to spread butter and jam on right now. They’re going to be available this November for ¥300 each – that’s about $2.75 a piece. But I’m hungry right now! Fortunately for the living bread, I’m on a low-carb diet, or else these things would be toast.

[via Toy People]

Lucas Pereira’s Traditional Japanese X-Men: Krakoa no Sato

Marvel has been taking the X-Men in all sorts of crazy directions in its comic books ever since it got the movie rights back from Fox. Freelance illustrator Lucas Pereira has a cool idea for the beloved and feared mutants with his ongoing Instagram series, which sees the X-Men and other Marvel characters dressed in clothing and accessories inspired by traditional Japanese culture.

Lucas started the series with Wolverine about a year ago and hasn’t stopped cranking out ideas. His work has seen enough demand that he’s now selling prints of some of his first creations.

Head to Inprnt to order Lucas’ giclee prints, which go from $20 to $40 (USD) based on the size, and follow him on Instagram to see his latest work. Man, that Storm art is special.

Olympic Cauldron designed by Nendo “blossoms” open to reveal the eternal fire of the Tokyo Olympics

The cauldron, which was lit on Friday to flag off the Tokyo Olympics, was created on the philosophy of “All gather under the Sun, all are equal, and all receive energy”. Showcased as the centerpiece of the Olympic Opening Ceremony, the ‘kinetic’ cauldron started by first assuming a spherical shape, blooming open to reveal the fire-pit within. The fire was fueled by hydrogen energy too, keeping in line with Japan’s commitment to an eco-friendly Olympics.

Designer: Nendo

The cauldron is the handiwork of Japan-based design studio Nendo, based on an underlying concept by Mansai Nomura, the Chief Executive Creative Director of the planning team for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics. The design was arrived at after 85 different iterations, including trapping flames in a heat-resistant glass orb to even a concept with a spinning inferno, designed to look like a spherical sun. The final design uses ten aluminum panels with reflective interiors that open upward and outward, “blooming” to welcome the final torchbearer. “This expresses not only the Sun itself, but also the energy and vitality that can be obtained from it, such as plants sprouting, flowers blooming, and hands opening wide toward the sky”, says Nendo founder Oki Sato.

A distinct feature of the cauldron was its use of Hydrogen fuel, a zero-emissions source of energy. The hydrogen was produced at a facility in Fukushima Prefecture, which is currently undergoing recovery from the Great East Japan Earthquake that occurred in 2011. Given that Hydrogen burns with a colorless and transparent flame, sodium carbonate was added to it, to give it the unmistakable yellow hue associated with the sun. The sodium carbonate was sprayed into the fire at varying angles, creating that shimmering effect of firewood being stoked.

The overall cauldron measures 3.5 meters (11.4 feet) in diameter when open, and weighs 2.7 tonnes. Each of the 10 aluminum panels weighs a stunning 40 kilograms, and was meticulously cut from a 10 mm thick aluminum plate and molded using a special hot-press machine to eliminate any warping due to heat. The internal drive unit was designed to be as compact as possible, while also being highly waterproof, fireproof, and heat resistant. Mirrors on the inside of the aluminum panels helped ‘multiply’ the effect of the fire by creating shimmering reflections, and the entire installation was repeatedly tested for heat and wind resistance to prevent any error even under highly varying conditions.

At the finale of the opening ceremony on Friday the 23rd, the cauldron was revealed within the Kengo Kuma-designed Tokyo National Stadium, and was lit with the ceremonial fire by Japanese tennis player Naomi Osaka.

This Giant Chocolate Bar Is the Sign for a Japanese Chocolate Factory

I’m currently on a low-carb and low-sugar diet, but I’ve been craving chocolates lately. And now that I’ve seen what is likely the largest chocolate bar on the planet, I really need a sugar fix. This gigantic chocolate bar is the facade of the Meiji Confectionery factory in Osaka, Japan. It measures roughly 544 feet wide and 91 feet tall, and holds the Guinness World Record for the largest advertising board made of plastic. I guess if they made it from chocolate it would quickly melt in the sun. I remember the time I left a Hershey’s bar in the glove box of my car. It wasn’t pretty.

The chocolate bar was installed back in 2011 but is not widely known as a tourist attraction to visitors outside of Japan. The massive sweet treat welcomes visitors to the factory and tempts them as they enter the building. I bet it smells like delicious warm chocolate outside this place too.

The wall of chocolate looks delicious, and if it were really edible, I’d break off a square and get to work on my snack fix for the month. If you need proof that this isn’t a Photoshop job, check out the Google Street View of the giant chocolate bar. You can also see how they assembled the display piece-by-piece in the video below:

Normally, the Meiji factory is open to the public for tours, but after the pandemic hit, they restricted access only to school groups and only those who reserve in advance. In the meantime, if you’re craving some Meiji chocolate, Amazon has a large selection (affiliate link) of these Japanese candies. I need to get myself a box of those Hello Panda cookies right now. Oh well, there goes my diet.

[via That’s It, I’m Architecture Shaming]

A Clear Cylindrical Capsule for Carrying Live Fish

Because Japan takes its sushi and sashimi seriously, the Ma Corporation has developed the Katsugyo Bag, a clear cylindrical briefcase designed for transporting live fish that you caught or bought from the market to your home so you know you’re preparing a meal with the freshest fish possible. Me? I still miss the previously frozen fish sticks from the middle school cafeteria.

The Katsugyo Bag (roughly translated: ‘live fish’ bag), which is still in the prototype and development phase, includes a gauge for monitoring oxygen saturation, as well as what I believe to be a pump for keeping the water circulating through the device. It’s hard to tell from the photos, but the cylinder is actually split in half with water only in the clear front half, with some electronics in the rear. Honestly, it kind of looks like a homemade fish bomb to me.

Could you also use a Katsugyo Bag to take a pet fish for a walk around the neighborhood? I guess, but why would you want to separate your fish from its old pal the bubble-powered rum drinking pirate skeleton? The stories that guy can tell!

[via Sad and Useless]

This Heated Jumpsuit Will Keep You Toasty Even If Your Heat Is Broken

Are you one of those people who is cold no matter what? Perhaps you need some heated pajamas to keep you warm. The Damegi 4GW Heated Jumpsuit should do the trick. Sure, you might look silly wearing this outfit if you venture outside, but if you’re parked on your couch playing video games and nibbling on Doritos, you should be just fine.

Sitting somewhere between a snuggie and a heated blanket, the Damegi 4GW is designed for gamers and anyone else who could use a warm-up. It’s made from a soft and stretchy velour fleece that won’t limit movement in case you wear it while VR gaming, or even while you toss and turn in bed. It’s got a pair of USB-powered heaters inside which start warming up in just about 5 seconds and achieve their maximum temperature in under 4 minutes.

If you need to go to the bathroom while wearing it, the jumpsuit includes an easy access flap for that too. Or as Google translate explains: “Toilet System 6.0 while wearing on: provides a more comfortable buttocks.”  Yeah, Toilet System 5.0 is so last year. And if tend to lose all your heat through your head, they’ve got you covered, literally. This thing has a hoodie built-in, and you can even zip it up to cover your face, though they’re very clear that you shouldn’t sleep with it covering your face if you want to breathe.

So if you’re feeling chilly today, you can grab the Damegi 4GW from Amazon Japan for ¥14,220 or about $132 USD.