Browsing Category

Japan Project

Illustration, Japan Project

The Tokyo Illustrators Society

The Tokyo Illustrators Society (TIS) is one of the most respected organizations for illustrators in Japan. It was established in 1988, when a group of passionate & hard-working artists slowly grew out to become one of the most important creative platforms in the country. In the beginning of 2015 The Tokyo Illustrators Society consisted of 232 very talented illustrators from three different generations. They regularly organize contests, conferences and exhibitions with a purpose to promote illustration in Japan.

So yes: visiting director & illustrator Hiroyuki Izutsu and staff members at the TIS was definitely one of the highlights of my trip in Japan. And although I’ve been back for a month I feel like sharing a bit more about this organization as I am a big fan of what they do and what they stand for.


When I visited the Society, one of the main questions on my mind was how and if the society saw themselves on the international level. As a foreign blogger, what did they even think of me being there and asking them questions? Hiroyuki explained how the international role of TIS on the is becoming more and more essential. “Because of modern technologies, there is more global competition and the artistic quality of an illustrator becomes more important. It is our mission to show the world the many artistic talents our beautiful country has.”

I’m very happy to support them in this. How can I not be? Among their members are MANY amazing illustrators, like the ones you’ll find below.

For more, you can visit the Tokyo Illustrators Society here.
You can find an archive of all their previous exhibitions here.

Yuriko Endo:

Yuriko Endo

Nao Hanawa:

Nao Hanawa

Keiko Hasegawa:

Keiko Hasegawa

Takahiro Kimura:

Takahiro Kimura

Sora Mizusawa:

Sora Mizusawa

Amigos Koike:

Amigos Koike

Kaori Matsukura:

Kaori Matsukura

Izuru Aminaka:

Izuru Aminaka

Kintaro Takahashi:

Kintaro Takahashi

Ritsuko Izutsu:

Ritsuko Izutsu

Illustration, Japan Project, Mixed Media

Thank you Japan!

Well, that’s it. Back in Holland. Bag unpacked, normal life peeking around the corner. No more breathtaking temples and colorful kimonos, no more delicious sake with dinner. No more getting lost because I cannot read Kanji signs. And no more purposely getting lost in crowds and streets for hours… Japan, I’ll miss you!

Although I’m starting to get my old rhythm back, I still have an occasional grin on my face from thinking about my trip. I enjoyed every minute of it; Japan has been everything and more I ever expected it to be, and I have a whole bunch of beautiful people to thank for that. Thank you, you wonderful new friends!

Also, a huge thank you for following me on this blog during my stay. I loved reading your messages and comments and I hope I was able to inspire you through it all.  As a close up, I made a little list of the ten most memorable days I had in Japan. I’ve included links so you can read more about the artists I mention. Hopefully it will make you want to travel there too. Really, you should.


1. Meeting Naomi Okubo

I’m a HUGE fan of Naomi Okubo‘s paintings so I was a bit nervous about meeting her. But as soon as we met I found there was no need for nerves at all. We had a Yakitori lunch at Inokashira park (famous for it’s cherry-blossom trees) and visited her studio where I saw some of her original paintings. Through it all, we giggled a lot. Read more here

Naomi Okubo Naomi Okubo1

2. Lunch with Yuki Kitazumi & Fumi Koike

Two things I learned the day I met these two ladies: 1. schedule your trip in advance when traveling from one side of Tokyo to another. 2. Yuki Kitazumi and Fumi Koike are not just super-talented illustrators. They are amazing women who share a great passion for their work. And they cook pretty well too! Read more here

Yuki Kitazumi Fumi Koike Lunch with Yuki Kitazumi and Fumi Koike

3. Makiko Noda at Ondo Gallery

Ondo Gallery is now officially my favorite place in Osaka. And while visiting it, I was lucky enough to catch the last day of Makiko Noda’s cat-exhibition too. Read more here

Noda Makiko Ondo Gallery Noda Makiko Ondo Gallery

4. Meeting Hatsuki Miyahara & 5. Kyoto illustration party

Hatsuki Miyarara is another illustrator that stole my heart years ago, and who I now met in person. She was not only kind enough to invite me yo her house and show me her work, she even organized a little illustration party in Koyto where I got introduced to the works of 6 more amazing artist. You ran read more about them here.

Hatsuki Miyahara and Sandra Apperloo Kypto Illustrators party Mariko Yamazaki

6. Aiko Fukawa Exposition

I was thrilled to find out illustrator Aiko Fukawa was exhibiting her works in at the Keibunsha Book Store in Kyoto during my stay. Lucky me! Again! Her colorful paintings turned the gallery into a magical zoo that day: cats, dogs, squirrels and bunnies were up on the walls everywhere. Dressed from top to toe and surrounded by little flowers, plants and birds. Oh, how I love Aiko’s work. Read more here

Aiko Fukawa-exposition-at-Keibunsha-book-store Aiko-Fukawa-exposition-at-Keibunsha-book-store12

7. Visiting the Tokyo Illustrators Society

The Tokyo Illustrators Society is one of the most respected organizations for illustrators in Japan. So I was pretty excited when I met director & illustrator Hiroyuki Izutsu and staff members at the office! I asked them questions about the organization and its purposes. Will be writing a lot more about them in the future. Meanwhile you can visit their website to find out more. You’ll find some great Japanese illustrators there too.

Tokyo Illustrators Society

8. Mari Kamio Workshop

I wrote about the fabulous embroidered creations by Mari Kamio during my stay in Japan and found out she would be giving a workshop at Goen℃ gallery store in Shibuya shortly after that. Of course, I had to visit it. Had the best time there! We made embroidered horses using all kinds of colors and stitches, and we got some personally designed cups too. You can visit this post for more works but Mari.

Mari Kamio Workshop Mari Kamio Workshop Mari Kamio Workshop

9. Visiting Omoide Yokocho with photographer Timothy Buerger

Timothy Buerger is a Chicago-born & Tokyo-based freelance photographer I met during the last week of my stay. He invited me to visit Omoide Yokocho; a narrow street with quite a history, based in the middle of Shinjuku. Although it’s becoming more visited by foreigners now, walking through it is still a very nice experience. Timothy explained he never passed it without taking photos. As a result, he has managed to capture Omoide Yokocho in a unique & sensitive series of must-see photographs. Below are some of his shots. For more, you can visit his site.

Timothy Buerger photographyTimothy Buerger photographyTimothy Buerger photography

10. Meeting Kosuke Ajiro

Last stop: the studio of illustrator Kosuke Ajiro. Another all-time favorite illustrator I got to meet in person. Kosuke is currently preparing works for his solo exhibition at Ondo Gallery in May and showed me some of the paintings he is is working on. I felt very special, seeing them before the crowd at the gallery will! Read more here

Kosuke Ajiro Kosuke Ajiro1


Illustration, Japan Project, Painting

Meeting Kosuke Ajiro

My trip through Japan has been amazing. I’ve met so many talented, warm-hearted artists! On top of that I got close up my journey with a visit to the very funny & sympathetic Kosuke Ajiro. Life is good..

Kosuke Ajiro is an illustrator & graphic designer based in the Eastern part of Tokyo. I met him there for a visit at his house. Him and his wonderful wife live in a wonderful little apartment, accompanied by two dogs (that look more like teddybears than dogs to be honest. So cute!). I’m a big fan of Kosuke’s work. So gladly, the first thing we did on entering the house was visiting his working space, where he showed me some of his original paintings.

If you look at Kosuke Ajiro’s work, you should always take your time and stare at them for a while. You’ll spot more and more little details that will astonish and entertain you. In his original works I found even more loveliness then I ever noticed before on screen.. Magical landscapes, cute and quirky little people and an animal or two. So great!

Kosuke is currently preparing works for his solo exhibition at Ondo Gallery, which will take place in May. He is creating little series of animations; sets of beautiful paintings that together tell magical stories about far away fantasy worlds. It made me a bit sad that I won’t be in Japan to visit it. But standing in the spot where these works were born, I really shouldn’t complain..

After talking about his work and taking some photos, Kosuke and his wife invited me for a little drink and a traditional Japanese sweet. we chatted about life in Japan, about his upcoming exhibition and about their love for traveling. Both of them have seen quite a some countries and, of course, I did my best to convince them that Holland should be their next destination. During the whole time I was there, they didn’t stop smiling. Neither did I!

Thank you, you wonderful folks!! Make sure to visit Holland so I can invite you for lunch at my place!

For more about Kosuke Ajiro and his works you can check this previous post or visit his website. You can also follow Kosuke on Facebook, Twitter & Instagram.


Kosuke AjiroKosuke AjiroKosuke AjiroKosuke AjiroKosuke AjiroKosuke AjiroKosuke AjiroKosuke AjiroKosuke Ajiro Kosuke AjiroKosuke Ajiro

Illustration, Japan Project

Yoko Furusho

I’ve been a fan of Yoko Furusho‘s one of a kind illustrations for some years so it’s about time I posted some on this blog. I love her fun & hysterical style and the endless details that continue to pop up the longer you look at her works.

Japanese artist Yoko Furusho moved to New York at the age of 18 to study at the School of Visual Arts. After her graduation, she started working as a freelance illustrator and has now created works for many different clients, such as Maybelline New York, KEDS collective, & Glamour Magazine.

Continue Reading

Embroidery, Japan Project, Mixed Media


Magical things can happen with needle & thread. These embroideries by award-winning illustrator Marue are just adorable! Love the coffeecups & little breadrolls, but I think the chairs are my favorite.

You can visit Marue’s site for many more:


MarueMarueMarue Marue MarueMarueMarue Marue Marue

Illustration, Japan Project, Mixed Media

Mizue Kai

When I visited Yuki Kitazumi and Fumi Koike last week, Yuki gave me a yearbook of the MJ Illustration school which is based in Tokyo. It contains the work of nearly 200 talented illustrators who have attended the school. So now every time I’m a little bored I go trough the book and discover something new..

Like these wonderful mixed media works by Tokyo-based illustrator Mizue Kai. Mizue has illustrated for books, prints and other publications. On her website you’ll find many more of her works, like these black & white illustrations & botanical drawings. But I think the bird series below is my favorite. Love it!


Mizue Kai Mizue Kai Mizue Kai Mizue KaiMizue Kai Mizue Kai Mizue KaiMizue KaiMizue KaiMizue Kai

Illustration, Japan Project

Bannai Taku

Looking at these rich illustrations by Japanese illustrator Bannai Taku brings piece to my mind. Great compositions and wonderful, calming colors.. yup, would fit perfectly on any wall in my house!

Bannai Taku graduated from Tama Art University and the MJ Illustrations School, which is based in Tokyo. You can follow him on Facebook, Pinterest & his blog for updates or visit his website here:

Bannai TakuBannai TakuBannai Taku Bannai Taku Bannai Taku Bannai Taku

Social Media Coaching Program