Japan’s Version of Legos Are Actually Pieces Of Art

Image: Ikunori Yamamoto; Slate.com
Image: Ikunori Yamamoto; Slate.com

Is there any children’s toy that has endured as well or as long as the Lego? They’re a Danish creation that have inspired inventive minds for over 70 years.

Recently, a Japanese architect named Kengo Kuma gained fame when he was selected to design and build the athletic stadium for the 2020 Olympics set in Tokyo. Throughout his projects, Kengo uses simple pieces of wood called Tsumiki stacking blocks to build miniature creations. Tsumiki are basically the Japanese version of Legos, but they have a much more elegant design.

The small wooden triangles can be stacked, linked or arranged to form all sorts of structures. They can form creative sculptures, bird-like animals, or whatever else someone’s imagination can come up with. Much more smooth to the touch than some lego brick, Tsumiki blocks are crafted from Japanese cedar wood. According to Rikumo.com, one of the places where the blocks are sold, their creation was actually fueled by an environmental conservational efforts.

 The  Kuma Tsumiki Building Blocks were created in collaboration with More Trees, a forest conservation organization led by musician Ryuichi Sakamoto that makes toys out of thinned wood. Tree thinning is an eco-friendly forestation technique where weak, ageing trees are cleared from overcrowded forests so that the forest as a whole can continue to thrive. The wood is Japanese cedar wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

Image: Ikunori Yamamoto; Slate.com

You’ll notice they certainly aren’t as cheap as a set of Legos, but they serve a good cause and look much more artistic than those primary colored plastic blocks. Tsumiki triangles actually display many parts of the Japanese aesthetic. They are responsibly made, economically designed, and beautiful to look at. The most simple designs are often the most brilliant. The new ‘Japanese Lego’ is a perfect toy for the next generation of kids and creative minds.

The Tsumiki blocks can be bought on Spoon-Tamago.com and Rikimo.com.



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