Following on from a recent post, here’s more from an old stash of travel sketches from Japan. When I did these, I’d just got off the ferry from Taiwan (via Okinawa) where I had been supervising animation layouts in Taipei. After a few months of tropical heat and hectic animation production schedules, it was refreshing to be in the snowy, cool winter of Japan.
It was especially lovely to have arrived to Tokyo in time for the New Year, with many beautiful kimonos on display. I had not been prepared for the charming sight of Kimonos in the snow, thinking that was a thing of the past or merely a display for tourism pamphlets. But that’s exactly what I saw when I arrived. It was exciting to finally be in Tokyo. I’d wanted to visit Japan for years, and in December 1986, I finally did. These first few sketches were drawn while watching a kabuki play in Tokyo. A friend made on my earlier Taiwan assignment, Sean Newton, was coincidentally working in Tokyo. Even more coincidentally, the studio he was working at was 15 minutes walk from my guest house.
In a city as big as Tokyo, that was really remarkable luck for me to have a comrade so close by. Especially one who likes sketching, and does it so well as Sean. We went out drawing the Tokyo sights together several times in my first weeks in Japan.
I was in tourist mode, exploring Tokyo every day while Sean had to work. We got together during his down time, for the occasional sketch session. At Tokyo Zoo, or in this case, at the Kabuki-za Theatre in Ginza, which I have vivid memories of. We also sketched at a Noh play. I’m told it is the more highfaluting theatrical form, but Kabuki was more spectacular and colorful, purely from a visual point of view.
Tokyo is one of my favourite cities to explore and get lost in, but eventually even I had to move on. I had a Japan rail pass burning a hole in my pocket, and had to use it or lose it, so I hit the road.