Lifestyle & Culture

One (Tiny) Day at a Time

September 16, 2021

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“Camera Laundry.” Image © Tatsuya Tanaka. / Image on cover, “Ironing Chips” © Tatsuya Tanaka.

By Nancy McKeon

MOST OF US want to build a world more to our liking than the one we encounter every day. Some of us do it by stuffing our homes with things that broadcast ME! Others invent things that may actually improve the larger world (here’s not looking at you, Mark Zuckerberg).

And then there’s Tatsuya Tanaka, a Japanese artist, who for a little more than a decade has been constructing miniature worlds for all of us to share.

swimming pool filled with “ramen water” or, alternatively, a swimming pool made from a surgical mask (two cheers for Covid-19). A video arcade fashioned from up-ended tape dispensers (which can also be turned into prams). A computer motherboard transforms into a busy airport or a rice field. And Tanaka reveals one of these tiny dioramas every day, adding up to a Miniature Calendar that began in April 2011. In fact, his easel-style Miniature Life Calendar for 2022 is available for pre-order (it costs $20 plus shipping and is available starting September 18).

Tanaka gives the rest of us credit for seeing the kinds of things he sees: “Everyone must have had thoughts like these before: Broccoli and parsley may sometimes look like a forest of trees, and tree leaves floating on the surface of water may sometimes look like little boats. . . . ”

Sure, but never would I have imagined a jet ski (sorry, personal watercraft) from a nail clipper or exercise equipment from office supplies. Peer further into Tanaka’s world: You have nothing to lose but the weekend.

“Gym on the Desk” © Tatsuya Tanaka.


“We Overcome Many Difficulties” © Tatsuya Tanaka.


“Mask Resort” © Tatsuya Tanaka.


“Chocolate Climbing” © Tatsuya Tanaka.


“Footprint” © Tatsuya Tanaka.


“Departure” © Tatsuya Tanaka.


“Light Train” © Tatsuya Tanaka.


“Uphill Road” © Tatsuya Tanaka.


“Oven Sauna” © Tatsuya Tanaka.


“Space Shuttle Cauliflower” © Tatsuya Tanaka.


“Stationery Library” © Tatsuya Tanaka.

3 thoughts on “One (Tiny) Day at a Time

  1. Curt says:


  2. bjk says:

    very interesting….. but my favorite funny line was :
    (here’s not looking at you, Mark Zuckerberg)

    1. Nancy McKeon says:

      ah, yes . . .

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