Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Japan, Part 2: Urban Sketchers Tokyo

11/7/15 Yanaka neighborhood
A highlight of our Japan trip was meeting up with Urban Sketchers Tokyo for an afternoon of sketching that turned into an evening visit to Tokyo Tower and an izakaya dinner. (I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: One of the very best things about being part of Urban Sketchers is being able to connect easily with other sketchers anywhere on the globe!)

Our initial meet-up spot was the Yanaka neighborhood and its historic cemetery. Escaping destruction by war and earthquakes, this part of Tokyo still retains older styles of architecture and narrow, winding alleys (as well as souvenir shops and food vendors for the tourists). Seemingly centuries away from the rest of Tokyo, the huge, quiet cemetery displays ancient gravestones and cherry trees that look almost as old. As I’ve often found at home, cemeteries can be a quiet, peaceful oasis in the middle of urban noise, and this was certainly the case in Yanaka.

11/7/15 Yanaka cemetery
After sketching together in the cemetery, we stepped into a Yanaka tea shop for refreshments and more sketching – of each other, of course! Unlike the typical isolated head sketches I usually do when sketching other sketchers around a table, this time I tried putting together more of a coordinated montage of sketches on the page spread – with one of the pink and green sakura matcha parfaits that we were all devouring as the centerpiece.

From left: Kumi, Tina, Maki, Junel and Atsuko in Yanaka cemetery.
Fortified with tea and ice cream, we moved on to Tokyo Tower a short subway ride away. Once Tokyo’s Eiffel-inspired tallest structure, Tokyo Tower is now overshadowed by the three-year-old Tokyo Skytree as the city’s dominant skyline punctuation. Built in 1958, Tokyo Tower nonetheless has a classic, stately look that I knew would be both fun and challenging to sketch. Although I was invited to climb the tower, I opted to stay at ground level and sketch it instead. Drawing its illuminated, symmetrical structure, I did find myself having Eiffel déjà vu. (Unfortunately, by this time, the battery in my phone had died, so I don’t have any photos of the tower or the rest of the evening.)

11/7/15 Tokyo sketchers sketching and eating.
Our last stop was for dinner in an izakaya pub-style bar, where Greg and I were introduced to a variety of foods on skewers and in bowls (some familiar, some not; most delicious, some not!) washed down with plenty of beer. I think Kumi Matsukawa was the only one still sketching by then! See her sketches and report of the day in her post on the Urban Sketchers blog.

My thanks to Kumi for organizing our fun day of sketching and to all the Tokyo sketchers for the warm welcome and USk camaraderie!
From left: Tina, Maki, Junel, Atsuko, Kumi, Chris
Yanaka is a cat town!

11/7/15 Tokyo Tower at night.

1 comment:

  1. It is so great that you met up with the Tokyo Urban Sketchers! I just love it when we have urban sketchers come and meet with our group in NYC. It is so great to have such a welcoming community around the world. Glad you all had such a great time sketching and sharing a meal and drinks together. I can understand it being a highlight of Tokyo. Great sketches! I like seeing people sketches that are a little more elaborate from you. Thanks for sharing the sketches and photos.


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