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Japanese fashion: Harajuku

As a manga and anime enthusiast, I must say I love these girls’ style!

I’m sure most of you are already familiar with this fashion style, very popular in Japan’s biggest cities and even though you didn’t know it was called Harajuku, you’ve surely seen some oddly dressed girls, wearing lots of make-up, they’re all over the internet.

Harajuku style was named after Harajuku district in Tokyo, the place where it’s believed it all began and where all the kids gather to scout for new funky clothes in the numerous shops and boutiques, or just to show off their new outfits. The nice thing about this fashion trend is that it’s not big brands or fashion designers telling people what to wear, but just the opposite, the kids are dictating what sells.

Japan is very “absorbent”when it comes to Western culture, so the Harajuku style is a trademark for those independent spirits that don’t go with the flow and choose to freely express themselves.

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The Real Toy Story

No link to Pixar’s animation movies, but just as interesting.

The Real Toy Story is an elaborate work of art and a homage to Chinese workers, who produce most of the world’s cheap plastic toys. It all began when German photographer Michael Wolf thought to surprise his son on his birthday. He went to the local flee-market, bought 600 second-hand toys and glued them on every available surface of the boy’s room. Upon further examination of the toys, they observed that every single one was made in China. His son said “I thought Santa and his helpers make toys” and that’s when the idea hit him. He immediately set off on a 30-day journey across California, in his van, stopping at every market and collecting all the toys that had a face and were made in China.

He managed to gather 20,000 toys which he shipped to his studio in Hong Kong, where he then sanded-down their backs in order to attach magnets. He then visited some Chinese toy factories and took pictures of the workers. He covered his studio walls with metallic surfaces and stuck the toys to them, also embedding the photos he took.

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Bottle-wall houses

If you’re a big beer fan, don’t throw away the bottles, build yourself a house instead.

Yet another example that with a god imagination you can build anything out of anything. The first bottle house was built in 1902 by William F. Peck, in Tonopah, Nevada, using approximately 10,000 beer bottles; the house was later demolished in 1980. Tom Kelly built himself a bottle house in 1905, in Rhyolite, Nevada, using 51,000 bottles masoned with adobe. He reportedly used bottles because other materials were hard to come by in that area.

There are quite a few bottle houses in the world today, but most of them have been built specifically as tourist attractions or simply as artworks.

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Wacky Austrian museum

Ever been afraid that a house might fall on you and squash you?

I know what it looks like, but no, that house did not just fall out of the sky. It’s an artistic project of sculptor Erwin Wurm and it was set up especially to look like a house just fell out of the sky and landed on the Viennese Museum of Modern Art. Actually it took two large cranes to get that house in its place and secure it properly.

Wurm says his work of art is a statement against over-development, here are his thoughts on the matter: “There are hundreds of thousands of houses and they are spreading like a plague, like a cancer across our land.”

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Matchsticks-made Minas Tirith

Who knew something made of matchsticks could be so impressive!

Patrick Acton is an artist from Iowa and apparently a big fan of The Lord of The Rings universe, who uses matchsticks to create his masterpieces. What you see in these photos is just a work in progress, an incomplete model of Minas Tirith, the famous fortress city, as seen in LOTR3: The Return of the King. The details are remarkable and I can only imagine what it will look like when it’s finished, sometime in 2009.

Anton has become famous through his work and has been featured on ABC’s Extreme Makeover, Home Edition, Home and Garden TV and in magazines like AAA Travel wood, The Iowan and others. I admire him for his patience!

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Incredible soap art

Who says soap can only be used for cleansing?

As you can see it makes for great material when you have an artistic sense. Some of you may not be impressed by all these pieces, but I for one never looked at soap as anything but something to help me get squeaky clean, so I’m genuinely impressed to see art in something so common.

I wonder how much one of these babies costs and if anyone really uses them when they bathe? I doubt it.

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Great use of a used plane

This is El Avion, a famous plane now turned into a bar.

El Avion is a model C-123 Fairchild and it can be found in Costa Rica and it has quite an unusual story. I for one really didn’t get much of it, but the bottom line is that it was abandoned by the USA at the San Jose airport, in 1986, after its identical sister plane was shot down over Nicaragua, leading to the capture of a one Eugene Hasenfus by the Sandinista army. Apparently there was a huge scandal regarding this incident at the time, but right now El Avion remains just a place where you can come and get a really expensive drink.

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Cement tube houses

I could think of a number of uses for these cement tubes, but housing is still not one of them.

But as you can see it’s very possible, and the people living in them seem very content. Sure you only have enough space to fit a small bed but at least you have a roof over your head…well it’s not exactly a roof but you know what I mean. I guess this one of those places where rich people come to experience what the hard-knock life feels like, before heading back to their luxurious mansions.

Would be nice if they had a toilet or something, though…

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Bottle-cap painting

Here’s another way to recycle apparently useless junk.

I must admit that, even though I’m very interested in recycling and the whole environmental issue, using bottle caps to create beautiful art, never crossed my mind. That goes to show you that we can find solutions to our problems where we least expect it.

This “painting” was commissioned by the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC), to celebrate Charleston’s master blacksmith, Phillip Simmons, who’s work can be found all over the Charleston peninsula.

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Wooden bike

Another proof of artistic genius at work.

I’ve seen chairs and tables made of this stuff, but I never imagined a detailed bike could be created. I’m glad I was wrong, it’s nice to know everything is possible. My respects to the artist.

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Life-size Alien statue

If you’re a true fan of the Alien series, you’ll probably want one of these.

I am a fan of science-fiction movies but I can’t say I’m a die-hard fan of Alien. To tell you the truth, those aliens scare the hell out of me, always have and I’m pretty sure they always will. I can’t imagine waking up in the middle of the night, for a glass of water, and accidentally bumping into a seven-foot alien, my heart would explode for sure.

But hey, if your strong of heart and love the series, you’ll want to check the link at the bottom and order one.

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The newspaper house

Who said newspapers are only good for reading?!?

This ingenious project was built with the help of over 1000 participants, some who provided the newspapers and others helping in rolling them out. This original idea belongs to artist Summer Erek and it was built for Creative City. Here’s what the artist had to say about his project: “We all believed that moving into the digital era would diminish the use of paper. On the contrary, there seems to be a resurgence of printed material and newspapers, much of it free and everywhere – yet we don’t think much about where paper comes from and where it goes after we’ve used it. Newspapers pile up in our houses, lie on the streets and on public transport. The issue is not likely to disappear ; we must find creative ways to deal with it. We are urged to consume without thinking about how to discard. The first step is inviting people to think about and value the material itself, and to consider the issue of “waste”.

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Incredible sand sculptures

After seeing what artists can do with snow and ice, it’s time to see how they handle sand.

I remember when I was just a little kid and traveled with my folks to the seaside, I used to make sand sculptures too…but nothing like the ones presented at the Harrison Hot Springs. Also known as the Sand Sculpture Capital of the World, Harrison is the place where artists from across the globe gather to measure their skills and create some of the most impressive works of art I’ve ever seen. I’ll let the photos convince you of their talent.

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Places of worship from around the world

Somehow I don’t think this is what churches should look like.

Here is a collection of bizarre-looking “churches” from around the world:

Catholic church in Uruguay

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Unusual collection of furniture

These are definitely some of the weirdest pieces of furniture I’ve ever seen.

Sure, many of these are very original artistic pieces, but still…how many of you would like to have to penis-shaped armchairs in your living-rooms. Still, as I said, they are to be admired for their originality.

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