It’s incredible how fast a Tokyo metro can take you from one place to another. You can parade along Harajuku street at one moment and enjoy a superfresh sashimi at the Tsukiji Fish Market half an hour later. However, it takes some figuring out before traveling for those who don’t know the Japanese metro system. So when you’re meeting up for lunch with illustrators Yuki Kitazumi and Fumi Koike, it’s smart to puzzle out your route beforehand. I learned that the hard way.
Poor Yuki and Fumi waited for me at the station for half an hour because I got confused while changing trains. Not a very good way to start off a lovely Japanese lunch at Yuki’s house. Luckily, Yuki and Fumi forgave me my delay immediately. We took a train to Yuki’s house where she cooked a delicious Japanese meal. We ate, drank sake and chatted for a long, long time.
Yuki Kitazumi and Fumi Koike are two Japan-based illustrators whose works I have admired for ages. Both work on a freelance base and have participated in various exhibitions. When I contacted them about my trip separately I found out they were friends, and they invited me to have lunch at Yuki’s house together. How exciting!
Yuki and Fumi met each other at the MJ Illustration School in Tokyo. This is a private school where illustrators attend to further develop their illustration skills. Before MJ Illustrations, Fumi graduated from Musashino Art University. Yuki already had many experience as an illustrator, but explained that the school helped her to look at things in a new way. “Basically it gave me a new set of eyes. As an illustrator it helped me to observe things from a new perspective. I’m very thankful for that.”
Looking around in her house, I was excited to spot some of Yuki’ works on her wall. A beautiful paper collage that was hanging near the front door drew my attention in particular. Yuki explained that it was inspired by the movie Lovelace, which tells the story of legendary porn star linda Lovelace. I really liked the soft colors, cheeky poses and the detailed faces of the little characters, so asked Yuki If she would show it in front of the camera. And she did! She also offered me two editions of the MJ Illustrations yearbook, which have an awesome collectio of illustrators I had never heard of before. So yes, I gladly accepted this present. LOVE THEM!
Fumi Koike brought two original paintings with her. I was so amazing to see them up-close, because they were full of little details such as plants, hanging clothes and a cute little dog. So I asked her the same question, and Fumi happily showed it in front of my camera. She also gave me a beautiful set of her prints and a little book from a very successful exhibition she held in Madrid some years ago. It’s called Dog and Morning and contains many illustrations that you will probably recognize if you are familiar with Fumi’s work.
So, a couple of things I learned from this day. 1: schedule your trip in advance when traveling from one side of Tokyo to another. 2: Don’t ever accidentally put a receipt in a ticket machine. It will block the machine completely and cause quite an embarrassing scene on top of that. 3: Yuki Kitazumi and Fumi Koike are not just great illustrators. They are wonderful, warm, hardworking people who share a great passion for their work. Spending time with these two women was very special. Another highlight in my trip through Japan. Doo Moo Arigato, ladies!
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