This mystical scene comes from the creative mind of W. Navarre. In the build, we see the silhouette of a figure perched on a rooftop, with the roof tiles cleverly portrayed through the use of ball joint plates. The warrior is overshadowed by a bright moon, which has a great variation of textured pieces representing the rocky surface. Waves crash against the house surrounded by a bamboo forest, featuring the use of tan Technic pins as bamboo stalks. The odd angle of the house mixed with the mystical aesthetic makes this one unique display.
When building microscale, you need to look at parts a little differently, as evidenced by the very creative collection of curved and angled parts Nannan Zhang used on this Japanese castle. Front fenders, rear spoilers, and other small black parts usually found on cars create a tiered roof that reminds me of Nagoya Castle. A trio of cheerleader pom-poms make perfect cherry blossom trees, while a hot dog is used for a small arch. Almost as interesting as the castle is the green and gray landscape it sits on.
Beyond Japan, Yōkai are often assumed to be demons, but the word actually translates as “strange apparition” and these mystical spirits are not always malevolent. Having said that, Rockmonster2000‘s LEGO yōkai figure looks pretty mean! The stance, the stare, that weapon — they all strongly suggest this beastie is about to unleash some diabolical mayhem. There’s quite the mix of parts involved in this character — I spy regular System bricks, Technic panels, and Bionicle and Knights Kingdom pieces. That braided piece of clothing around the midriff looks like a shoelace to me — I do hope it’s an official LEGO one from 10282! My favourite detail though, that has to be use of the bucket-handles as clasps on the sandal buckles. Lovely stuff.
I’m watching the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympics right now feeling nostalgic both for my hometown and for my trip back to Japan two summers ago before the pandemic, when I spent several days in Kyoto as well as Tokyo, Matsumoto, and Kobe. Just south of Kyoto stands Mount Kōya, where Kōbō Daishi (Kūkai) founded the Shingon sect of Japanese Buddhism in the 9th century. My father became good friends with the head monk of Kōya-san during our time in Japan, and the temples and pathways there hold a special place in my family’s hearts. Inspired by the Japanese manga Mushishi by Yuki Urushibara, LEGO builder Ted Andes has captured a Buddhist pilgrim pausing at a Shinto shrine in the Okunoin graveyard where Kōbō Daishi is buried.
What’s truly wonderful about this scene is that it captures the unique Buddhist-Shinto syncretism that permeates Japanese spirituality, wherein Shinto (literally the “Way of the Gods”) beliefs are practices alongside Buddhism brought from China. In Ted’s LEGO scene, a shrine to a local Shinto deity and the god’s sacred stone — complete with a straw rope with lightning-bolt paper — stand amidst Buddhist graves on a sacred Buddhist mountainside. Well-researched, gorgeously detailed scenes like this are a welcome contrast from the generically “Asian” scenes far too many western builders toss together for build challenges and contests.
As part of the same Summer Joust contest, Ted also shared this atmospheric scene inspired by the same Manga. The same pilgrim from the scene above walks through a bamboo grove at night as ghost tendrils and a spectral hand threaten our protagonist. Rather than relying on LEGO’s bright green bamboo pieces, Ted has recreated the tall stalks using dark tan candles, with just a few leaves entering the frame near the top. This sort of scene is exactly why little kids like me growing up in Japan were afraid of bamboo groves at night!
In my youth I used to watch a lot of anime, and of course with most of it being created in Japan during that time, snippets of daily Japanese life found their way into the animations; school uniforms, cherry blossom trees, and of course Bento boxes – neatly home-packed meals. The fairly new BYGGLEK boxes produced as a collaboration between LEGO and Ikea are perfect for creating LEGO Bento, which builder nobu_tary has expertly done here.
Rice balls, veggies, and more! These foodstuffs are all expertly brick-built, some – like the rice balls are constructed by way of the SNOT (studs not on top) technique, utilizing some basic pieces such as slopes and bricks and others such as the two tomatoes are built regularly and are composed of only a couple pieces. These colorful food builds certainly capture the colorful palette of Japanese cuisine. The cover of the box is also colorfully decorated with a nice mosaic pattern built out of variously shaped tiles which can be found in the LEGO Dots line. Nobu_tary did not forget the utensils either – the chopsticks here being shaped by various cone and cylinder pieces topped with some 1×1 bricks and plates. Certainly this build is a palatable one indeed.
Master of brick-built characters Eero Okkonen has shaped this fanciful LEGO samurai, and true to his typical style, has kitted it out with splendid parts usages from top to bottom. While there are many clever building techniques that are worth highlighting, such as the lever bases around the flag on his chest, or the offset cascade of car slopes for the front of the red kusazuri (or skirt armor), in my opinion, the best technique is a very simple one that serves both form and function. The front of the Samurai’s feet are made with two red cheese slopes around a black lamp holder, and the color different would be a problem in most applications. But here it perfectly mimics the split-toed tabi (or socks) of traditional Japanese garb.
You can read more about the samurai and how Eero designed it on his website, Cyclopic Bricks.
I deeply admire those who can take a LEGO build and create a story using beautiful photography. That’s exactly what Orient R Minesky has done with this pair of adventurous school girls. The builds themselves are well done, but their interaction with non-LEGO items brings them to life. The collection includes several great shots, and we wanted to share a few of our favorites. Here they’re spending a beautiful day taking pictures in the park.
Can someone help me with a tech question? How do I set the parental controls so that my parents can’t watch Fox News? While The Brothers Brick IT team and I are working that out, I’d like to show you a fox of a different kind. This Kyuubi no Kitsune (Nine-tailed Fox) built by Jessica Farrell is a well-known character in Japanese folklore. Jessica tells us that this magical creature lives for an incredibly long time and grows a new tail for each century of spiritual training and wisdom. Upon gaining its ninth tail, the Kitsune has reached its full powers and its tails may begin to turn golden or white in color. Its natural form is that of an ordinary fox but the powerful Kitsune is able to shape-shift into other forms, particularly that of a beautiful young woman, and get up to all sorts of mischief!
She also tells us that this model is comprised of 4,304 elements and took three weeks to design and build. I am particularly fond of the intricate textured stones and the flowing brook. The entire setting instills a tranquil feeling for me and the Kitsune’s expression exudes wisdom. Now that is a Fox network I would watch!
Growing up, I was lucky to have one of LEGO’s early sets in the castle theme, 375 Castle, which, along with several classic space sets catapulted my LEGO building creativity to a whole new level. And it seems I am not alone in my nostalgic feelings for this set. Galaktek has built a LEGO model inspired by this set, featuring a central section, with four hinged wings that open up for further play and display options. This one perfectly represents feudal Japan with an arched front gate, very detailed stone foundations and vegetation, and a lovely pagoda with ornate gold details.
And if this castle mash-up feels familiar, it’s for a good reason. You may have seen this model in person if you were in Seattle for Brickcon 2019 in early October, where the builder had several castles all built as an homage to the original castle LEGO set. We also covered another of these castle mash-ups recently here on TBB.
In Japanese mythology, the giant catfish Namazu lives in the mud under the islands of Japan. When this creature thrashes, violent earthquakes result. Not a good thing, but that hasn’t stopped Japan from embracing Namazu as a mascot of sorts for earthquakes. Catfish are a common image on earthquake-related signs, and even appear on the Earthquake Early Warning (EEW) logo. And, as you might expect from a monster-turned-mascot, sometimes those catfish images are just adorable. Case in point: [Jack Frost] has built a LEGO version of Namazu that will melt your heart, even as it shakes your world.
There are a lot of fun aspects to this build. Although a couple of studs can be spotted, the majority of the body is sculpted in smooth black elements including Hero Factory armor. Meanwhile, the flame colors in the Legend of Chima energy effects used as fins invoke the destructive aspects of earthquakes. But the large and expressive eyes and charming smile somehow try and make that seem like not a big deal.
Somehow, though, I think we should probably just be terrified.
I met Javier Soravilla at Japan Brickfest in Kobe a couple of weeks ago, and I swore to him that if he ever looked the other way even for a minute, I’d steal his Queen of Hearts away from him. This lovely character was one of my favourite builds on the floor. It looks so perfect with that solemn pose, graceful stance, and beautifully shaped back bow down to the rubber belts for the sandals.
I’m also heartbroken to say that though I did make a proposal, she did find her way back to Javier in the end.
In Japanese cuisine, bento is a meal in box for take-out or eating at home. Leonid An has built a delicious looking LEGO bento, which includes sushi rolls, nigiri, vegetables, wasabi, and a hearty serving of white rice. Each dish is able to stand on its own, thanks in part to a diverse range of colors and building techniques. The pieces of nigiri use a mix of curved slopes and constraction figure elements to form slices of raw fish. Black tires and white tires are cleverly used to represent the seaweed and rice in the sushi rolls, and lime green Bionicle Krana Za masks are used to form the side of wasabi. Meanwhile, a pair of chopsticks at the base of the box signals it’s time to eat. Itadakimasu!