(Updated on July 2, 2019 with information on capsule toy)

Canned food rings

In early April, 2019, Japanese Twitter users were buzzing about a fashion accessory with an unexpected source of inspiration. The brainchild of Japanese art unit 現代美術二等兵 Gendaibijutstu Nitouhei, these rings looked exactly like miniature versions of canned seafood.

現代美術二等兵ふじわら Gendaibijutsu Nitouhei Fujiwara (@f2touhey)

Incidentally, the rings are modeled after two popular brands of canned crab and canned tuna:

  • Ring 1: ストー缶詰株式会社 紅ずわいかに一番脚肉詰くずれ身 Suto Canning Co., Ltd.'s Red Snow Crab meat (choice legs, flaked)
  • Ring 2: 株式会社マルハニチロ あけぼの さけ 水煮 Maruha Nichiro Co., Ltd.'s Akebono Pink Salmon (packed in water)

現代美術二等兵ふじわら Gendaibijutsu Nitouhei Fujiwara (@f2touhey)

The futile art of Da-bijutsu

The rings are part of an art style invented by Gendaibijutstu Nitouhei, a humorous name which translates as "Private Modern Art" ("private" as in military rank). The two-man unit composed of Shane Kagotani (@kago2touhey) and Katsuhito Fujiwara (@f2touhey) call their art style 駄美術 dabijutsu.

According to a statement on their website, dabijutsu is "work which entertains people regardless of its degree of completion or production cost. Just as some snacks are dagashi 駄菓子 (a term for cheap snacks written with the kanji 駄 meaning "futile" and 菓子 kashi, meaning "snack"), we think that within the world of bijutsu (art), there's also a place for da-bijutsu. It's a laid-back form of entertainment that includes painting, sculpture, photography, or anything else."

Coming to a capsule toy dispenser near you

After their tweet went viral, garnering over 175,000 likes within a week of posting, they realized there was potential and entered into negotiations with Maruha Nichiro Co., Ltd. with the intent to commercialize them. (Suto Canning Co., Ltd. rings are not featured this time and it is unclear if they will be in the future)

So, if you're coming to Japan this August, look out for them at capsule toy dispensers!

By - Ben K.