New NHK show on Japanese design


The past few weeks I’ve been helping out on a new NHK program called “Design Talks.” The first show, which airs today (Feb. 28) is all about snow. I was fascinated to learn that in the late Edo period a man named Doi Toshitsura 土井 利位 made a startling discovery when he decided to look at snow under a microscope. At the time, this imported technology was still was very new and rare, and no one had seen what snow looks like up close and personal. Doi spent the next 20 years studying snow crystals, working in subfreezing temperatures to make detailed drawings of individual snowflakes.

In 1832, he published 183 of his drawings in a book called Sekka Zusetsu (A Pictorial Explanation of Snowflakes) 雪華図説, which set off a huge fad for snowflake designs. Here’s a photo of a very old kimono with a design inspired by the book:

snow kimono

And check out the snowflake design on the kimono in this old woodblock print:


The show also looks at modern designs incorporating snow and snowflake motifs, including a 2010 installation called “Snow” at the Mori Art Museum by leading designer and artist Tokujin Yoshioka.

In any case, the show is worth checking out:


If you live outside of Japan and get NHK World, you can look up the exact broadcast time in your area (it airs several times during the day) on the schedule page. If you live in Japan, you’ll have to act fast but it is possible to see the show on your computer through the NHK World website, albeit only via streaming in a little box in the top right corner of the screen. I’m watching it right now as I type this post, but “Design Talks” will be in the box titled “Now on Air” again between 22:30 – 22:58, 02:30 – 02:58, and 07:30 – 07:58.

詳細:「 NHK WORLD 」 ホームページ

国内では、「 NHK WORLD 」 ホームページ内より、インターネットストリーミング配信されます。
22:30 – 22:58, 02:30 – 02:58, 07:30 – 07:58

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4 Responses to New NHK show on Japanese design

  1. Pingback: Why DO Japanese love cherry blossoms so much? | Alice Gordenker    アリス・ゴーデンカー

  2. Francis says:

    Hi Alice! Just watched today’s design talks and really enjoyed the show and the concept. IS there a way to watch the previous shows? Thank you.

  3. Alice says:

    Dear Francis, I’m so glad you enjoyed the show. I am actually in Berlin right now. As far as I know, right now there is no way to watch past shows but let me check that out when i am back. Alice


  4. Francis says:

    Hi Alice, thank you for you reply!

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