26 April 2011


While I was writing and drawing for my assignments, summer visitors had already come. Although I am still far away from finishing them, I went out for birdwatching because spring comes only once in a year and I'm not sure if I can stay here next year. I was surprised to hear Cuckoo here in April because in Japan it is usually spotted after May.

It became a day to learn warblers.


Grasshopper Warbler(ヤチセンニュウ)
We were lucky enough to see it closely! Its eye-stripe is pale and thin. But Reed Warbler (ヨーロッパヨシキリ)has more plain face and the color is more orange with no pattern on its back. Reed Warbler was hidden in the reed and didn't allow me to sketch...

Sedge Warbler(スゲヨシキリ)
has bold black eye-stripe and obvious cream eyebrow. The one that I sketched had a ring on its leg. In England, I've seen ringed birds more often than in Japan.

24 April 2011

Coloring eggs

From the middle of March, I was asked to keep the skin of onions for Easter. And this is what they are for!

Just by boiling eggs with onion skins, they became beautiful reddish brown. I tried it as well with two of my eggs and off course with some piece of paper! The paper became yellow and my fingers brown.

There is a Japanese story by Naoko Awa called Kitsune no Mado or Fox Window.
The fox dyes people's fingers with balloonflower. If you make a rhombic window with your thumbs and index fingers colored by him, you can see whatever you want through it. I wonder what we can see through the window colored with onion.

17 April 2011


We got a room with a view, not in Florence but in Venice.
In the morning, I sat on the window sill and looked down the square, hearing the people walking and pulling the roller bags on the cobblestones. At seven o'clock the first bell of the day rang.
I would love to live in a place where a bell rings.

15 April 2011

City on the Lagoon

We hopped on the train after the Book Fair to Venice.
Most of the people got off the train at stazione di Venezia Mestre and there were only four of us in the car. Suddenly, we could see the sea from both sides of the car. We went into the lagoon.

I was impressed by the idea of settling on a marsh and building a whole city on millions of wood poles. There are certainly many people living on a former marsh in the world, even some familiar places for me: here in East Anglia and also in Bangkok! But these places were reclaimed by drainage building canals. I also know that some people are living in floating houses on lakes like the one I stayed in Klong Ya national park in Thailand last spring. But these are just some houses, not the entire city like Venice.
If the sea level rises in the future and even more places become half sank in the sea, we may all have to build a city like Venice...

Since it is just one month after the disaster in Japan, I can't help thinking about earthquakes and Tsunami. Venice is still there soundly because earthquakes seldom happen there and it faces the Adriatic Sea in the Mediterranean Sea. Tsunami is an acute disaster while acqua alta or high tide is more chronic.

Building the inflatable barriers at the canal gate would work better and be more reliable for acqua alta than building breakwaters for Tsunami. However, those constructions are always based on an estimate. It may be about the height of the water coming in or the effect to the current, environment. But when it comes to nature, we cannot calculate everything, so such estimates very often turn out to be wrong. And it seems that the more we try to overcome or resist the nature with hardware, the bigger the damage caused by a hundred-year or a thousand-year event.

If I could be a travel journalist, my first topic would be "Living on the water".

13 April 2011


Not many people who visit Bologna for a few days will draw this park at the edge of the city. But when we first arrived there, we waited for the bus to our hostel here and could not do anything but sitting...so I was drawing. And this became the only one piece drawn in Bologna since I was at the Bologna Children's Book Fair for the rest of my stay.

I can not forget the Cioccolata calda (hot chocolate) that I had after this drawing because it was super delicious! Italian hot chocolates are really thick and not like normal Japanese or British ones, which seem to be watery after experiencing that.

イラストレータよろしく、わたしも自分の作品のダミーを持ち歩き、いくつかのブースで見せてみたのだが、作品に対する反応も様々だった。イタリアやフランスでは、自然科学の絵本であっても芸術的、文化的なものが好まれるらしく、写実的に自然を描写したわたしの絵は"Too British"だそうだ。わたしは自然をそのまま記録する、自然博物学タイプの思考をしているけれど、エッセンスを取り出し芸術として表現する自然の絵本という路線もある。国による自然観の違いは、こんなところにも現れているのかもしれない。

Snow Forest, my work from last module.

8 April 2011


What will you do if you only have a day to stay in Florence?

We spent whole afternoon sitting at the Piazzale Michelangelo and by the San Miniato al Monte. Looking down the beautiful city, feeling the happy sun was enough on its own to enjoy Firenze. I learned a lot from my friends about the way of traveling.

Although I was the most restless person among our group...sketching and watching birds.
In Italy there were many Blackcaps. Maybe their number is big in winter since some birds migrate from north to stay over.

6 April 2011


Walking in Florence, I felt as if I were in a movie. Narrow alley ways, orange roof tops, yellow walls with green windows and the blue hills for the back ground...everything was pictorial. Mountain skyline is what I'm missing in East Anglia.


Ponte Vecchio
It is said that in Europe, there were several bridges with houses on it like the Ponte Vecchio. I believe the London Bridge was also one of them because there is the scene in the novel "London" by Edward Rutherfurd when Tiffany falls down in to the river Themes from a window of a house on the bridge...just like Lauretta says in the aria.