Sunday, May 17, 2009

Tiny Objects

I am constantly amazed by the intricacy of tiny objects and by the ability of the Japanese to perfect creation of tiny objects.

Since I was little I was a collector of doll house miniatures. When I was a child my parents took me to a tourist trap in Victoria, British Columbia, called Miniature World. This little walk though attraction featured dozens of tiny dioramas of towns, historical events, doll houses, and everything imaginable small scenario in the world, well everything except for the "Nutshell Studies."  

For a number of years now, Re-Ment, a Japanese toy company has been producing spectacular food miniatures.  Here is a portion of my collection:

The thing that I love about these, tiny pieces of plastic is very difficult to elaborate clearly and in precise words. On one hand there is the childhood fascination with a fabricated world--a moldable, moveable controlled environment of color and organization. There is an element of nostalgia for those childhood strolls through museums and the dreams of having my own diorama some day. Another element is a bit more hard to pin down but is more closely tied to my Japanese heritage.

Neurosis. Perhaps that is the best way to explain the precision, the intricacy, detail, and desire to make something so small.  As a Japanese American, I do not have a problem making the following statement, but I firmly believe that the Japanese are the most neurotic people on the face of the planet. Broad sweeping generalization time: there are so many odd quirks, obsession with honor, obsession with cuteness, obsession with precision, obsession with education, work ethic, the way food is presented, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. 

Think of the following items: Square watermelons. This is not an American invention, This can only be a Japanese invention. Same with the recently developed Heart-Shaped Melon. Japan is the only place where a person will exercise in public with hundreds of coworkers in the morning, work for twelve hours, and commit suicide if a business deal falls through in order to preserve honor for the sale of cute objects with the face of a kitty cat on it.

I still have more of these tiny objects, more miniature traditional Japanese foods, and other small items of plastic to be organized and sorted, catalogued and indexed, placed and arranged. 

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