Walking the streets of Tokyo this past week has been a dream. It is much like New York City, but larger, cleaner and more crowded. The other differences are quite noticeable as well. Fashion seems to lean toward the bizarre “Lolita” trend for teenagers and twenty-somethings. I saw no homeless, no panhandlers, no rudeness or shady characters. It’s a wonderful and safe environment, but so very expensive. There must be more than 20 “Times Square” type areas, brightly lit with a thousand advertisements. The neon canyons are a particular draw for me. I love to paint the odd and colorful array of lights. It’s tough to do in the crowd though.
It was cold and foggy quite a bit of our time here, but the atmosphere made for nice effect, and kept some of the crowd indoors. The views were stunning from the rooftops, with skyscrapers peeking in and out of the mist.
There were so many things to paint, and I got a few starts, but nothing completed beyond a sketch. I gathered information as rapidly as I could though. Tokyo will certainly inspire my work for a long time to come. I was completely impressed with the people and their hospitality, attitudes and willingness to help me negotiate my way around.
Each morning we would set out on foot in a different direction with no particular destination in mind. We wandered for 10-12 hours, discovering visual gems everywhere, then grabbing a taxi to get us back to our hotel when we were exhausted and as lost as we could get. If we could muster a second wind after dark we would go out again to see the lights.
Sushi for breakfast surprises nobody here. We ate our fill several times a day and still crave more. It is so fresh and so well prepared that we became very experimental. One morning we went to the famous fish market and ate tuna minutes after the fierce auction. Only two other places I’ve eaten have fish this good…Bloody Mary’s on Bora Bora and Jina Yoo’s in Columbia, Missouri.
During the daylight hours we visited a couple of Shinto shrines. They are a stark contrast to the colorful city that surrounds them, but incredibly picturesque and tranquil. They brought out the more peaceful, thoughtful facets of my creative side. These are places to paint, if you can get away with it respectfully. There are a load of rules to be followed in the shrines, and none of them in English. I seem to have learned most of them the hard way, but the worst punishment I got was a finger wagged at me. I took a bit of advantage of the fact that no signs were in English, and went where I pleased until I was told not to. 🙂
Of course the art supply stores grabbed me every time I ran across one. I always enjoy looking for things that are new or different than what I’m used to. I don’t exactly need more supplies, but I find treasures I can’t live without in every different country I visit. Japan was exceptionally tempting in this area.
There just wasn’t enough time here for me to do all I wanted. I must definitely return as soon as possible. Hopefully the Japanese Watercolor Society will invite me to come teach or judge. I’d love to meet more artists next time. This was just an exploratory first visit, but I filled it as best I could. I regret not having the time to visit Kyoto and other places further afield. Next time! Hopefully soon!