28 April 2015

Children and festival

During the weekend, I visited my friend in London and helped out the Barnes Children's Literature Festival and joined a kid's birthday party!

The literature festival was very lively!  I watched a play adaptation of Satoshi Kitamura's picture book, "Me and My Cat?" and listened to a funny talk by a poet, Roger McGough. 

At the festival, I met a very special book binder, Mark Cockram, who invited me to his amazing studio the following day. He showed me his current work, how he presses the title type on a box of a book with a sheet of gold paper, his unique project to bury books in the soil for several weeks to create art objects. It was an experience to peek the world of bookbinding.

Joining five-year-old's birthday party was a new thing for me, too. There were lots of cakes, marshmallows, biscuits, pizza and fruits on the table with beautiful flower decoration.

For the first time in many many months, I sketched children a lot. I need to keep doing this more often.

24 April 2015

London Wetland Centre

Someone is birdwatching almost everyday here!
I visited the London Wetland Centre with RSPB Cambridge group last Saturday. It is so nice to have a group that you can go back to, after being away for more than a year.

Nesting lapwing.

Coot and its chicks.

A canada goose, a little ringed plover and a redshank.

And the next day, my friend took me up to Norfolk coast to see the wader spectacular, one of my favorite birdwatching experience in the UK.  Most of the black-tailed godwits and some of the knots were in summer plumage and we spotted a wheatear.  Spring is here.    


I heard that there are many Ring Ouzels spotted this year in Cambridgeshire!

A male green Woodpecker.

Spotted Redshank was in handsome summer plumage.

Common tern.


21 April 2015


タイ人のコースメイトがケンブリッジに遊びに来ていたので、St. Ivesまでバスで出かけてきた。もちろんコーンウォールではなくてケンブリッジのSt.Ivesだ。

My stay here has been really coinciding with many wonderful events. Last Wednesday, there was a book launch of my professor, Martin Salisbury's new book called "100 Great Children's Picture Books."  And my Thai friend from the course was traveling in the UK for a few weeks and came to Cambridge for three days, too!   So we visited St. Ives.

We walked on the field along the Great Ouse and in the wood where some lesser celandines were in bloom and had an ice cream.  What a lovely day it was!

13 April 2015

Assisi, Ravenna and Pisa

Our trip continued and we visited Assisi, another city on a hill.
I was very happy to see Giotto's fresco painting of Sermon to the Birds. It looked very different from what I know from art books because it was on the wall of this massive Basilica with all the other fresco paintings and beautiful columns.

We wanted to sketch the Assisi city, too, but the day we spent there was extremely windy. We couldn't walk straight when we climbed up to Rocca Maggiore, big fortress on top of the city. So we decided to sit in a cafe and have thick hot chocolate and draw the pastries.

Assisi city from the station.  Most of the building there were either in white or pale colour.   
I don't have any decent sketch from Ravenna. We were too busy enjoying the lovely mosaic pictures and looking for bird species in there. I spotted partridges, peacocks, mallard, parakeets, hens, owls, lots of doves and perhaps a heron.

Yiting did a good sketch of the famous leaning tower in Pisa but I thought I would get tired of drawing many stories of the building and we only had short time left before our flight back to London. So I did a study of cypress instead.  They are such a special shape.  

12 April 2015


We first visited Cortona. I didn't know at all about the city but my mother happened to pick it up from the Italy guidebook. The main photo for Cortona page was a beautiful Tuscany landscape. I decided to visit there immediately.

Sketch of the city of Cortona from Camucia Cortona station.  I am always fascinated to see an entire city surrounded and protected by wall.  Because in most castle cities in Japan, the wall is protecting only the castle building and the rest of the city, where people lived, are outside the wall.   The reason for this difference seems to be that in Europe, the invaders were from different ethnic groups while in Japan, they were still the same Japanese people.  So the different ethnic groups might try to kill all the citizens and the lord needed to protect them.  But in Japan, it was only the lord of the castle that were attacked and the citizen could continue living there under the new lord.   

コルトーナの町の城壁外のバス停から、中心の広場への道を案内してくれたシニョリーナが働いているジェラート店へ立ち寄った。なんと、リコリス味を発見! 「とりぱん」に店員がまずいから売るのをためらったというエピソードとともに「リコリス・アイス」が紹介されているのを読んで以来、もう何年も探していたのだが見つからない味だったのだ。こんなひょんなところで出会うとは! さっそくリコリス・アイスを片手に市庁舎前の階段に座り込んだ。スケッチはアイスを食べ終わって幸せな気分のまま描いたもの。

View from the city was superb.  And after this sketch, we climbed up to Basilica di Santa Margherita. I spotted a firecrest and a black redstart there!

日本野鳥の会発行の小冊子「ひばりは どこに」に挿絵を描いた際、トスカーナの風景を描いてくださいと頼まれた。これまでもの旅でもトスカーナの田舎の景色は車窓などから眺めていたが、あまり自信を持って描けなかったので、今回、糸杉などをしっかりスケッチできて満足だ。

11 April 2015

Bologna Children's Book Fair

As I had been promising to everyone, I visited the Bologna Children's Book Fair this year, the heart of the picture book world. 
I was just so happy to be there surrounded by amazing books, talking about books with two of my best friends (+ one as a sprit) from my class.  It was the same as our old days.   
ボローニャ国際児童図書展に行ってきた! 3度目なので、なんとなく勝手はわかってきたけれど、それでも原画展に飾られている絵や各国のブースに並べられている絵本のクオリティの高さに圧倒される。イラストレーターとして引きこもって生活していると、目にするもの、触れるものが限られてしまうから、ときどきこうして文字通り「世界」に出て刺激を受けて、絵を見る目や価値観をレベルアップするのは大切な気がする。

The Bologna Children's Book Fair is a place to go to learn about the industry, get inspired and feel motivated and realise that there are many illustrators in the world who are trying to get started just like me and I am not  a lonely crazy one.

And look!  My "Weihnachtsspuren im Winterwald" was on the Atlantis verlag's shelf!  I felt that I became a part of the book fair...just a tiny little part, but still!

Having gelato with our coursemate in the city centre, we sketched at a piazza.  It is so nice that we can get together in Bologna.  I was glad to find familiar faces from the MA course and some of our tutors as well as people from the summer workshop at the Itabashi Museum.

After the fair, three of us traveled for a few days just as we did a few years ago. It was amazing that we started to talk as if we had kept living together and the two years, that we spent our life differently, wasn't there.  We went straight to our usual talks about art, nature and culture, which we used to do sitting at our corridor with a cup of coffee in hand.

Have a look at Yiting's lovely blog post about our trip, as well.