Made in Japan – Volume 16

Made in Japan – Volume 16

This week:
Miyazaki Modelers, the Wooden Supercar, Tatamet Folding Helmets, the Baby Elephant Copter, the MC Escher Stair Walking Jig, A DIY Underwater Fishing Camera, The Cycle Man Toilet Paper Holder, a Carved Kendama, Magnetic Motor Fish Microbot, The Mint House Makoto Eye Mask, The Mushroom Stool Cardboard Box, Hitachi’s Hard Disk Crusher, and the Fotomo Street Corners Book.
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Miyazaki Modelers
Gizmodo Japan ran into Yotsu at the 47th annual Shizuoka Hobby Show where he was showing off his painstaking DIY tribute to this robot (above, first) that appears in the final episode of the second series of the Lupin III TV program, directed by Miyazaki Hayao (the director of Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, etc.). Like many other modern nerdly pursuits, it turns out that Yotsu is not alone in his Miyazaki fan models, as the Miyazaki Mecha Modeler’s Club showcases a variety of beautiful homemade models inspired by Miyazaki Hayao’s animated movies (above, second).

Wooden Supercar
Just when you think you’ve seen it all, someone decides to remake it, with wood:

A Japanese furniture maker Sada Kenbei Co Ltd. in Maniwa city has produced a wooden supercar “Maniwa 真庭” made entirely made out of wood (except for the engine of course). The vehicle built by craftsmen is 1.3 meters wide x 2.5 meters in length x 1.1 meters high. The car can go up to 80km/h and costs around US$32,000.

Tatamet Folding Helmets
Tatamet folding helmets are said to provide the same level of protection as a regular work helmet, but can be compactly folded up for storage to be only 35mm in thickness. The collapsible helmets can easily be unfolded and strapped on, protecting the head and neck from an earthquake, falling objects, etc. while allowing enough open head area to maintain visibility and hearing.

Baby Elephant Copter

The Japanese DIY ultralight model scene is alive and well, as evidenced by this ultralight RC helicopter in the shape of a baby elephant. Cute music too!

The 180 Degree M.C. Escher Stair Walking Jig
In a bizarre quest to make M.C. Escher’s drawings a reality, Daily Portal Z brings us this how-to of a guy who makes a jig for walking on the wrong side of stairs. More an exercise in the absurd than an actual suggestion, the author notes that this one is not really recommended as an activity you should try at home, as tipping over to either side or the boards breaking while laying on the jig could result in serious hurting.

DIY Underwater Fishing Camera
Japan’s “Fishspotting Online” has a tutorial on making an underwater camera that attaches to a pole for scoping out fishing spots. This hack uses the guts of a common CCD camera which are then housed in an enclosure made of plumbing pipe, and the pole here is taken from an old fishing net. Epoxy is liberally applied to waterproof the enclosure, and then you just hook the CCD up to your favorite power supply, hook up the RCA output to your favorite video camera, and be on your way to ultimate fishing power/YouTube celebrity.

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Hachigaoka Ehon Mura – Cycle Man Toilet Paper Holder
The unicyclist’s legs pedal away as the toilet paper moves beneath them. Be careful, these toilet paper dispensers might have you grabbing extra sheets of T.P. just to keep seeing this unicyle man do his thing. Sheryl Crow might get mad at you. 4,200 yen (~$42) Available in cat, dog, pig, and alligator.

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Carved Kendama
This carved wooden kendama was a finalist in the Tokyu Hands Grand Prix about ten years back. A kendama is a children’s toy consisting of a stick and a ball with a hole bored in it that is tied to the stick. The object is to hold the stick with one hand and get the ball to fall onto the stick in its hole. What’s perhaps most amazing about this kendama is that the chain is made with carved wood, unlike the yarn or string that is usually used.

Fish Microbot Magnetic Motor
Although this is not technically a microbot (its size is much bigger than 1mm), this battery-less motor is operated by the fluctuation of external magnetic fields, similar to how some microbot motors are powered. You can see the operator flexing the magnet later in the video, and it’s fascinating to see how closely the fish tail follows the curve of the magnet. Shikatadanho also dabbles in magnetically-powered inchworms and dolphins, so there’s more wiggling for those who are curious.

The Mint House Makoto Eyemask
Makoto, the stitching superstar behind The Mint House had a booth at the recent Design Festa, and took these eerie photos of people wearing the sleep mask he stitched to resemble his own visage. The author wonders if he would have been able to fake roll call back in school by outfitting a friend with one of these. “Present!”

Mushroom Stool – Cardboard Box
The personification of the cardboard box: So simple, so elegantly cute and Japanese. It’s just a box made cute by cutting some facial features cut into it, sold for about $15 by Toylava. This one resides playfully in the middle of the “What’s the point?” and “Why didn’t I think of that?” continuum.

Hard Disk Crusher
Th Crush Box hard disk crusher from Hitachi was on display at Japan’s 10th annual Data Storage Expo, and Make: Japan was there to get a demo. This device puts four bolts through the hard disk, making it unmovable as well as unreadable. This seems like it could be easily DIY’d if you were ever really concerned about making sure nobody will mess with your old hard drive. Personally, I just think it would be fun to drive some bolts through a hard drive.

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Fotomo Street Corners
Fotomo Street Corners is a wonderful book by Kumio Itozaki that compiles the spirit of Japanese street corners with its set of “fotomo.” Fotomo is a combination of the words “photo” + “model” and combines photography and papercraft to make real-life images take form in 3D. These cut-and-fold books appear to be gaining in popularity, as Itozaki’s books on Amazon shows links to a few other fotomo books as well. I wouldn’t be surprised to see some DIY fotomo tutorials appearing in the future, so I’ll be on the lookout for those.

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