Here’s a few more pocket sketchbook scribbles from my recent trip back to Tokyo.
Writing nenga-jo (New Year greeting cards) on the train.
It’s always great to be in Japan, I never get tired of the country or lose the desire to go back, no matter how long I’m separated from it, even if, like this time, the entire trip was spent in the Tokyo metropolis. But in fact it’s the urban city that really sparked my interest when I first went, and still holds my biggest fascination even now, uptown or downtown, the people, architecture, and life. Searching for the details of humanity in the great sprawling concrete monster, that’s what really attracts me in Tokyo. It’s an utterly contrasted world to green and historic Norwich (which I have an entirely different kind of affection for).
Standing room only
Nevertheless this trip was quite a different experience from previous return visits, largely due to the time of year – everything shuts over New Year except shops, so no galleries and so on. I did get to see a number of friends and clients though, which was great. And on the trains there were all sorts of people….
Compared to train portraits I didn’t get to draw the urban sprawl of the city itself so much, once you’re out of the station exit things get very busy, the sojourn of the train journey comes to an abrupt end when you get off and head into the chaos. But also central Tokyo buildings are complicated… so many lines in those structures, with a fine-point pen you need time to do it justice, and time was something very limited on this trip. There’s just so much to nail down when you’re running around, nevertheless I did scribble this of the Shibuya crossing while waiting for someone.
Standing outside the Shibuya Crossing koban, waiting…
And so, all too soon, it was the last day…. one more train trip into the city before back to the UK.
Final sketch before we left, once more standing up on a crowded train, drawing the man sitting in front.
I love Tokyo, that will never change, it never ceases to amaze and inspire me, even plain old train journeys.
Will I ever get to live there again? I don’t know, maybe, maybe not. My daughter would like to move back, but we’re not going anywhere while she’s at school, and there’s so much I need to achieve in the UK. But we’ve every intention of travelling back to Japan whenever possible. I continue to work regularly with clients in Tokyo and elsewhere, my books are always in the shops in Japan (a quick perusal of the shelves in Aoyama’s Crayon House children’s bookshop found three of my titles), I exhibit in galleries in Tokyo…. crucially we have family, and the old guard of friends remain.
Japan will always be part of our lives.