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6 Objects That Prove Japanese Design Is Truly Amazing

The Metropolitan Museum’s latest exhibit shows how the Japanese can inject extraordinary design into humble, ordinary pieces


Who hasn’t fallen in love with the functional simplicity and timelessness of Japanese design, whether it’s a modern, high-tech, smart building or a ceramic teacup with beautiful wabi-sabi details? On the other hand, what can you say about an ordinary raincoat, a medical mask, a paper plate, or even a soy sauce bottle?

Japanese Design Today 100the latest exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, aims to open our eyes further to the genius of Japanese design seen in 100 everyday objects used in cooking, childcare, housework, and more. Here are six noteworthy examples:

1. The Kikkoman Bottle

In 1961, Kenji Ekuan designed a bottle with a drip-free dispenser wherein soy sauce can be poured from the same container it was sold in. Its design is so perfect it hasn’t changed in 55 years. Now pass the sushi.

2. Cupmen Ramen Toppers

We use an ordinary spoon to hold down the lid of our instant cup ramen. What do the Japanese use? These little plastic human-shaped weights that change color when the ramen inside is very hot. Now why didn’t we think of that?

3. The First Modern Rice Cooker

This is the original prototype of the first electric rice cooker Yoshiharu Iwata designed for Toshiba way back in 1955. What’s so special about it? Well, if it weren’t for this humble rice cooker, we’d still be cooking rice in clay pots over an open fire.

4. Mosquito Incense Vessels

Shooing away insects has never been this classy. Made by craftsmen from the Mie prefecture, these mosquito incense vessel lids feature patterns resembling Ise stencils of relaxing summer motifs. It’s a little bit Zen, but very stylish.

5. Collapsing Artemide Lamp by Issey Miyake

The Mogura lamp is made of nonwoven fabric from recycled plastic bottles. Its design is based on 3D mathematical principles incorporating Miyake’s famous folding technology. When not in use, you can collapse it flat—perfect for small spaces.

6. Robot Suit Hal

An actual robot suit not meant to conquer outer space, but used to extend the physical functions of people suffering from spinal injuries, strokes, or other diseases related to the nervous system. It captures electrical impulses from the brain and converts them into sensory movements through motors, making the patient walk and perform other motor functions. Is this sci-fi? No, this is reality.

See these objects and the rest of the 100 pieces in person at the Metropolitan Museum of Manila, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Complex, Roxas Blvd., Manila, until August 19, 2016.

Visit the Metropolitan Museum for FREE tomorrow, July 9, 2016 only. Go to for info.

More on

RL News: Japanese Design Today 100 Exhibit To Open at The MET

RL Ideas: Japanese-Inspired Interiors (Part 1)

RL Ideas: Japanese-Inspired Interiors (Part 2)


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