Monday, February 21, 2011

So Japanese

Few years ago, I visited Japan, and I was charmed and captivated by the Japanese culture.

When sketching for the Sketchbook Project, I was inspired by 2 uniquely Japanese activities - 1. Temple visiting wearing a yukata, 2. Soaking in hot spring baths.

Regarding activity 1, I was inspired by a very famous temple in Tokyo known as the Asakusa temple, where centuries old traditions still prevail. During Japanese festivals, known as Matsuri, throngs of Japanese wearing yukata (casual summer kimono) or kimono would visit this temple to partake in the festivities and enjoy the carnival located on the temple grounds - complete with rides, booths and games.    

Below was my initial sketch. Subsequently I realised the picture on the left looks too plain, and doesn't show the vibrancy of Asakusa temple during Matsuri. The right picture shows the temple's main building and its 5-storied pagoda.

And so, I drew the centuries old shopping street called Nakamise, leading from the entrance where the huge red lantern is hung in the left picture. This entrance is known as Kaminarimon (Thunder Gate)and is extremely symbolic of the temple. I also coloured the sketch, hopefully it looks better this way.

Another popular Japanese pastime I was fascinated with, is their love for soaking in hot springs. With the abundance of seismic activity in Japan's geography, giving rise to the prevalence of natural hot springs, it's not surprising the Japanese have such good skin!

Here's my inspired sketch.

The caption would read "Enjoying a soak in an open air hot spring in Hokkaido".  Imagine a freezing temperature in the outdoor air, but a very warm temperature in the hot spring bath. Experiencing both sensations of hot and cold at the same time, makes for a truly unique experience. In fact, I've actually done this when I visited Hokkaido few years back. Lovely!


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