9 July 2017


Latest brochure of YBIRD travel agency came out with my cover illustration of a Goldcrest which is the icon bird of the company.


3 July 2017


It took me ages to scan and update my spring sketches but better to be late than never.  

I found that this tree is called Japanese snowbell.  What a beautiful name!

Hardy Kiwi.


Distant view of herons and cormorants at a pond. I should have put more effort on this sketch since it was such a nice scenery but these days I seem to have less energy for anything even for sketching...

ひさしぶりに子どもをスケッチ。暇になったら、もうちょっと積極的に子どもを描く練習をしたいのだが! どうも"暇になったらやりたいこと"リストばかりが長くなっていく。

25 June 2017

Midsummer Evening Meal

英語でmidsummerと言うと、日が一番長い夏至の時期。夜になっても明るくて、大学は夏休みで、幼鳥があちこちで生まれていて、本当に夏真っ盛りという気がした。その変わり8月にはもう秋の気配が漂っていた。 midsummerの訳語は「真夏」だとされるけれど、どうも日本で真夏というと、まだまだ先の7月後半から8月のイメージだ。梅雨の存在は大きい。

June is our rainy season.  So even though this is the month of longest daylight, it's often dull and not too hot and we forget about the sun.
But I thought we ought to appreciate the long evening!  We had supper on a sea cliff, which is nicknamed "Scotland Point" by somebody.  

The sunset time was at 19:00 but because of the heavy cloud at the horizon, the sun disappeared much earlier and everything became grey for a while.  
And suddenly around 19:10, just for a few minutes, the sky and the sea became pink!  The cloud caught the sunlight, which was already under the horizon from where we were, and reflected on the sea.   

19 June 2017

Marianne North and Wistaria


Marianne North came to Japan during 1875-1876 and visited Yokohama, Kobe and Kyoto and made a dozen of paintings including "Distant View of Mount Fujiyama, Japan, and Wistaria."  
Interested in her trails and what she drew in Japan, I decided to sketch some wistarias this Spring. 

I realised though, she was only in Japan for less than three months, from November to January, which is obviously not the Wistaria season.  In fact the Mt. Fuji in her painting has a lot more snow for Wistaria in early May.  So it seems that she painted it after her trip with some imagination!
The view of Mt. Fuji with the sea in front of it in her painting must had been the scenery she saw upon her arrival to the port of Yokohama.   

"I watched the sun rise out of the sea and redden its top, as I have seen so well represented on so many hand-screens and tea-trays. The mountain is a much steeper cone than Teneriffe or Etna, but has about the same quantity of snow on it. The coast is beautifully varied with ins and outs, islands and rocks, the cliffs everywhere fringed with trees and higher than I expected to see them, the water of the clearest aquamarine." (from "Recollections of a Happy Life" by Marianne North)



やっぱり野生にこだわりたいので、森の中のノダフジも見てきた。同じ林道を歩いていても、微妙に赤紫っぽい花と白っぽい花があるのが気になった。 遠目に見て気付くほどで、落ちている花を拾っても色の違いが分かった。

シーボルトは『日本の植物』の中で、「フジが四、五月にひとたび花をつけると、世のすべての階層の人々がこの藤棚のもとに集い、米でできた一種のビールである好みの「サケ」を飲み交わし、楽器の調べに合わせて舞いかつ歌って楽しむ。(瀬倉正克訳 八坂書房)」と書いている。昔の花見は、どうやら桜に限った事ではなかったらしい!

Strawberry geranium

3 June 2017

Little Tern Art Project

I visited Morigasaki, the rooftop Little Tern colony in Tokyo, to join an art project, which is a collaboration between the Little Tern Project and the Japan Wildlife Art Society. 
Around twenty artists participated in the project and today, we sketched and memorised the impression of the Little Terns at this incredible man-made colony ground on a sewage factory building in the hurt of urban Tokyo.  We will create some artworks based on today's experience and plan to exhibit the artworks in the autumn.  I was very happy to join this precious occasion in Japan!


Shadow of the bill cast on its breast.



Chicks were already born and running about in the colony.  It was hard to capture them as they tended to hind in shelters to avoid attacks by crows and peregrines and other mummies and daddies.  Some adults sometimes poke other tern's chicks quite aggressively!    

Thinking about the Little Tern being a white bird, I brought coloured paper this time.  I wanted to try drawing with white, thinking about the light and the shadow.  Field is the best place for observation & experiment. (and how long it seems since the day I did that module on my MA course!)   

Well, I obviously needed more practice on this subject and how to use pastel.  But it was a good way of looking at this rather a monotone bird.  


25 May 2017


昨年秋に『ダーウィンが来た! ~イヌワシを守れ!子育て支援大作戦!~』でも紹介された赤谷プロジェクトだ。また赤谷のイヌワシについては、イヌワシタイムズという素敵なホームページがあるので、ぜひ見てみてください。
I made the original artwork for the life-sized Golden Eagle panel for The Nature Conservation Society of Japan.  This panel was made to celebrate the eagle's successful nesting at Akaya forest for the first time in seven years.  
The Golden Eagle is very rare in Japan because most of the wild places here are forests and there are few open grassland for the large eagle to hunt.  So the society has been cutting the planted conifer trees to make a clear land in the Akaya forest. I hope this panel attracts people's attention to the eagle and this Akaya project to protect them!  



I made it mostly by three-layer reduction linocut and added the yellow for the eyes and foots with stencil.  (The reason why the colour of the paper is so different is that I had to work long hours and only managed to take some photos at night under artificial light.)




22 May 2017

Alps on the Island

Kozushima island has a 571-metre lava dome called Tenjyo-san mountain. Some area of it is very steep and rocky without any vegetation. On the top, there are two flat bare area, which are called "desert." So when I looked up the mountain surrounded by fog, I almost forgot that I was in an island but felt as if I climbed the Japanese Alps.


This is the scenery at the "desert" on the mountain.  It was a little too early for Azalea's full bloom.


Trochodendron aralioides.

From the top of the mountain, we could see most of the Izu islands. Fork-tailed Swifts were flying above our head. 

18 May 2017



We took a ferry from Shimoda to Kouzushima, one of the islands of Izu archipelago, located about 180 km south of Tokyo. This island is famous for producing some obsidian and there are records of people as early as 30,000 years ago to get there across the sea to mine the stone. They used it for tools and weapons like arrow-heads. The obsidian pieces from this island were found in many places on the mainland including remote places like Noto peninsula on the Japanese sea side during Jomon prehistoric period.


Meadow Bunting couples were everywhere on the island.  

Cattle Egret just woke up on a tree in the early morning.  When we saw this egret in the previous evening, it was walking on a school playing ground. It must have thought that the ground is the closest place to the paddy field on the island! 


Gelidiaceae, a type of red algae, which is used for Agar-agar, was spread to be dried here and there on the island. When freshly picked, it has beautiful red colour. But the colour fades and becomes white as it is sun dried, and the fishy smell disappears as well.  People seem to arrange and perhaps rearrange the algae according to its drying condition, and as a result, there appear these Mondriaan's paintings on the beaches.

10 May 2017


The first week of May is called Golden Week in Japan since we have some consecutive holidays. This year, it was indeed a golden week for me. I went on a trip and watched birds and painted in the field! 

Fork-tailed Swifts are nesting in the cracks on this sea stuck.  I could not see the inside of the cracks very well, but birds flying about with what looked like nesting materials on their bill.  
Painting this, I was thinking of St. Abbs head and the Seabird Drawing Course.  Just as I could hear the Kittiwakes' calls only when I got closer to the cliff at St. Abbs, I heard the screech of swifts when I came to the edge of the cliff. It echoed in between the cliffs.  
I so loved to spend a long time observing and absorbing the beautiful scenery and paint it.  



ずいぶん探しまわって、諦めかけたころに、見つけた! 中のボールがしっかり残っている、かんのん浜のポットホール。
A pothole or a giant's kettle with a perfect round ball, which is about 70 cm in diameter.


8 May 2017


I joined the seabird research at Sagami Bay. We spotted some spring migrants and seabirds in beautiful summer plumage. Spring is there at sea, too.


Female Grey Phalaropes in stunning summer plumage! 

On almost every floating object at a current rip, there were common terns resting.


Japanese Murrelets and the Mt.Fuji.