“When I started this project on May 30th, 2021, I was very optimistic about creating one book per week. The reality was different. As usual, the (always more urgent) daily work crept into my schedule. Some weeks passed without me touching this project. Every time I postponed the project, I felt guilty, I felt like a student again needing to deliver some work until a given deadline. … In conclusion, I can say that ‘the path become the goal’. It was not about creating a series of 15 perfect books but rather about developing ideas within a limited time and drawing attention to my surroundings as a potential source of inspiration. It reminded me to take time for my projects.” Mariko Takagi, Living in a box 15 / September 18, 2021 

“Dear Silke, the 15 booklets took more time than I first thought. Now I think it’s a little travel library that came about at a time when I wasn’t travelling. I hope the work gets to you undamaged.” Mariko Takagi / October 21, 2021

“‘Something with origami, then’, the friendly customs official speculated, looking at the sender. On a dark November afternoon I had cycled across northern Berlin to somewhere at the end of nowhere to receive the box from Kyoto. Previously, an appointment had to be booked at the customs office and the strange place on the outskirts of the city had to be found. Even though Mariko had actually declared everything correctly: It had to be checked whether the ‘gift package’ might not have contained a Rolex or prohibited items.
Fortunately, I was allowed to slit open the package myself. For this, the official handed me a hardware store cutter; I was just able to stop him from unfolding the contents together with me, there were no protective gloves against office dust and sticky fingers. Additionally, I didn’t want to overstate the extraordinary content and my excitement: I didn’t know if there would be a problem if the whole thing was considered an ‘object of art’. 

Which it is! Read the names of the 15 chapters: flow of ideas – from square to circle – counters – glyphs – shikaku – es regnet – es regnet – Fragebogen – beans – ghost signs – Fuji san – camouflage – transit – sky – patience. Already here you get a sense of the poetry of the everyday observations, some of them from the train window, as Mariko travelled back and forth between her ‘two boxes’, her home and her office, 55 km apart. It is not possible to reproduce the variety and typographical ingenuity of the booklets here.” Silke Ihden-Rothkirch / November 11, 2021

Dr. Mariko Takagi (Kyoto/Japan) is a typographer, book designer and author with a german-japanese background, teaching as an associate professor at Doshisha Women’s College of Liberal Arts, Kyoto.



Dear Mariko, what happens when German letters and Japanese characters meet unobserved in an unlit box?
Yours Silke