Tag Archives: Japan

From samurai and ninjas to giant mecha like Gundam or the beautiful films of Hayao Miyazaki, Japanese history and culture inspire LEGO builders all over the world. With contributors fluent in Japanese, The Brothers Brick also brings you coverage of the people and events in the large LEGO fan community in Japan itself.

Passing on to LEGO Nirvana

There’s a saying in Japan that you’re born Shinto, get married as a Christian, and die a Buddhist. In other words, you practice Shinto rites from birth, have a Western-style wedding, and leave this world through Buddhist funeral ceremonies. Thus, one of the many unique aspects of Japanese culture I experienced growing up there was seeing station wagons with tiny, shiny golden Buddhist temples sprouting from their backs. These little mobile temples are actually Japanese hearses, and Moko has once again used his collection of chrome-gold bricks by building a LEGO version of this iconic Japanese vehicle. In case you’re too dazzled to notice, I’ll also point you to the clever front grill on this 4-wide LEGO car.

Japanese Hearse

Check out Moko’s blog for more photos, including breakdowns and building techniques.

And for all our bilingual readers out there, here’s a totally ridiculous vehicle. Unfortunately, that’s the best I can do, since the very silly pun in Japanese (「オハカー」) simply does not translate. The car has a pullback motor, though I suspect a crash could result in grave consequences.

That pun is so funny I need to go lie down now and meditate on my life. Memento mori.

Kiyomizu temple in Kyoto built from LEGO, with special appearance by Kumamon

Talented Hong Kong LEGO builder Alanboar Cheung honeymooned with his wife in Kyoto, where the newlyweds visited Kiyomizu-dera, an early Buddhist temple founded in 778 AD, with the current buildings dating to the 17th century. Alanboar has commemorated their trip as a gift for his wife with this beautiful LEGO creation. Chock full of details depicting elements of Japanese culture, the whole creation sits on a brick-built scroll, complete with a calligraphy brush in front.

LEGO Culture of Japan - Kyoto Kiyomizu

The model features the main temple building on its hill, the accompanying pagoda, and the waterfall that gives the temple its name. In addition, Alanboar included LEGO recreations of his favorite memories, from Kumamon (the mascot of Kumamoto Prefecture, which is nowhere near Kyoto) waving Japanese flags beneath cherry blossoms and a trio of Children’s Day carp flying above to a beautiful princess on a bridge overlooking a couple basking in a hot spring (sadly without any snow monkeys).

There’s a lot going on here, so be sure to check out more photos on Alanboar’s blog. And if you enjoy this, you’ll also appreciate Alanboar’s LEGO mosaic of Hokusai’s “The Great Wave Off Kanagawa” we featured here a few months ago.

Custom LEGO Hatsune Miku minifigure

Having already delighted us last summer with his mosaic of everyone’s favorite holographic vocalist Hatsune Miku, Chris Rozek does it again with this cute minifigure version – well, Friends “minidoll” version to be precise. We’ve featured customized LEGO Friends before but it’s always nice to see more customizers using them to recreate well-known screen characters.

This was Chris’ first try at custom sculpting hair pieces. The hair is made from 6 pieces of carved and sculpted resin. The entire figure took around a week to complete.

LEGO Godzilla has atomic halitosis

Beware! Jeff Cross‘ brick-built Godzilla is coming to stomp all over your hometown. The big beastie himself is well-executed, but it’s the pulse effect created by a simple stack of trans blue 2×2 round pieces which makes this model really stand out. I can hear the sound effects in my head!

Godzilla does not love you

Now I want to see the big guy duking it out with Mothra over a microscale Tokyo. Do it Jeff. Do it.

The age of the Samurai: a stunningly huge mountain hideaway with working illumination

When your 5 year old son asks you to build a Ninjago city, you only say yes. But Ben Pitchford took things a little bit more seriously and ended up with a massive diorama nearly 4 feet (or 121 cms) high! The building process took almost 9 months, which is way over the attention span of a 5 year old. I guess Ben just needed an excuse to build something large. Luckily he had 100,000 LEGO parts laying around so this fortress was no big deal for him. He sculpted the big mountain with absolute attention and mastered the art of rock building. Ben also hid small LEDs behind transparent parts, so it makes a great scene once illuminated after dark.

The Samurai Code

The rice field, dojo, shinto shrines, cherry blossom trees, numerous caves, flowing lava, amazing waterfalls, grand stairs, mountain zipline and original Japanese characters make up a most amazing diorama. It will take you some time to absorb all the details, but you can see more photographs below.

Click to see more images

Amazing folding LEGO Himeji castle

LEGO castles are a well-practiced art form at this point, so it takes a lot to impress us here at The Brothers Brick. But this pop-up Himeji Castle has left us dumbfounded! According to Japanese builder talapz, whose pop-up Kinkaku-ji temple and Todai-ji temple we’ve featured previously, it took 15 months to complete and weighs 12.5 kilograms (27.5 pounds).

Amazingly, the pop-up and folding action is done entirely with the friction of LEGO pieces, because no glue was used to keep the bricks together. Even when the castle is folded down to its “storage” mode, it measures in at 70 x 70 x 11.5 cms (27.5 x 27.5 x 4.5 inches).

LEGO samurai blocks the way

Not content with wowing us with his LEGO versions of Discworld characters, Eero Okkonen recently knocked us sideways with this excellent Samurai figure. The helmet armor’s “face” is particularly good, as is that awesome bird device on the chest. Magic stuff — now I want to see an opponent built for an epic shogun showdown.

Arcane Samurai

These chibi girls rule the school

Mike Dung has created a troop of supercute chibi schoolgirls. A relatively simple frame structure and face design manages to support distinctly different characters thanks to great use of color, and some fantastic hairdo designs. Brilliant stuff Mike.

ちびμ's 練習着

For the anime aficionados among you, these characters are from Love Live! School Idol Project (ラブライブ), a Japanese multimedia project co-developed by three companies. The project revolves around a group of fictional school girls who become idols in order to save their school from shutting down.

Baikinman the bacteria man

Anpanman was a popular Japanese children book series that ran from the early seventies until 2013, and among its record-holding 1,768-character roster was the main series antagonist, Baikinman. A devious bacteria man from the Germ Planet, he fought the title character in endless battles. Depicted here in a more serious (and deadly) manner by builder Moko, Baikiniman is clearly a monster you don’t want to mess with. That is, unless you have his one weakness on hand, soap, which causes him to shrink down to the size of a fly.

Baikiniman by Moko

Konnichiwa from a modern Japanese home

Japanese style of building are a thing of wonder. I love their style and proper functionality — not a single bit of space is wasted, and this build by Gzu is a perfect example of this.

Ryokan (旅館) - Front

You can see the attention the builder has paid to all the details, like the little sandals at the door, and admire the functional sliding doors, smart toilet, tea table, small bed, and even the tiny bath. But if you choose, you can always go for something bigger:

温泉 - Onsen

So, who is ready for a vacation to Japan?

Kamen Rider Black brings back 80’s Japanese nostalgia

As my family left Japan in 1989 after 15 years there, one of the memories I carried with me was all the TV shows my brother and I had watched. While my own favorite was Ultraman, my brother preferred Kamen Rider (the “Masked Rider”). One of the best and most popular incarnations of the titular hero was the Kamen Rider Black series, which aired just before we left Japan, in 1987 and 1988.

Moko has been building various LEGO versions of Kamen Rider for at least the last 10 years — I first featured minifig versions of the characters way back in 2006 — and his latest Kamen Rider features a chibi version of our hero pulling a wheelie astride his iconic “Battlehopper” motorcycle.

Kamen Rider Black

Kamen Rider himself is fully posable, and Moko says that this is his first attempt at a non-minifig scale motorbike. Moko makes great use of LEGO rubber elements in this build: The red and yellow lines on the character are built from rubber bands, and the motorcycle tires are tank treads on radar dishes.

Kamen Rider Black

Moko says that the first Kamen Rider show he watched was the RX series that immediately followed Black, and he only watched Black later, but really loves the show despite its age — which, you know, makes me feel a bit old… You can see more photos on Moko’s blog (in Japanese).

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Baltan!

Not surprisingly, the moment you mention a hero like Ultraman, a giant space monster shows up to destroy your nice little cardboard city–it’s just the natural order of things. Filling in said order is the latest creation by nobu_tary: the deadly Alien Baltan. With the powers of flight, laser beam claws, furry looking legs, and presumably the ability to gain more abilities as dictated by the plot, Baltan is sure to give Ultraman a run for his money. At least until the third act requires his loss after an oh-so-close victory.

Alien Baltan by nobu_tary