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