Subway & Urban Sketching in Japan 2016

Drawing Inspiration From Japanese History & Culture Equipped With A Sketchbook, Japanese Brush Pens, And A Nikon Camera.

Earlier this year I travelled once again to Japan, making it my 3rd visit!

This time I stayed for 13 days, and I explored more areas to the west and south of the country, which I hadn’t seen before, especially the southern island Kyushu. In Kyushu I visited Kagoshima, the home of the active volcano, Sakurajima and scenes of rural Japan.

It was also the second time I travelled the country with the Japanese rail pass, which granted me unlimited travel via the extremely fast Shinkansen bullet trains. On this trip I discovered and purchased a number of Japanese brush pens in a stationary art shop in some markets near the Shinjuku area in Tokyo which I instantly loved sketching with. I began making a daily habit to sketch from life with these pens as I jumped on and off on the subway in Tokyo and Osaka, and the bullet trains across the country.

From my previous trips to Japan I remembered that the Japanese make great, free art models in public and urban areas where they are so often transfixed to their latest technology and not really paying attention to their immediate surroundings (now not just a Japanese phenomenon, but a world-wide one). There were so many Japanese people often completely passed out asleep on trains from sheer exhaustion as a consequence of the harsh, long working hours they somehow endure. Fortunately this gives the artist plenty of time to observe, draw and record without interruption, or concern of being noticed in an awkward moment which can happen when artist and the unaware public model meet eye-to-eye, and the model suddenly finds out you have been drawing them! This can be a pretty funny experience though.

It seems that when people are not completely absorbed into their digital device, their ‘6th-sense’ or intuition seems to be much more in tune, and they are more aware of their surroundings naturally, especially when somebody else is looking at them for more than a second or two. People seem to be able to look up more and feel they are being looked at when they are not giving their full focus to technology. Even if somebody is reading a book, they seem to be more aware of what is going on around them to an extent. With social media and other digital distractions, people seem to look up less, which I suppose is good news for the Artist, if anything.

So on my trip I took the opportunity to sketch the Japanese people on the subway (underground), and bullet trains as I journeyed on my way to amazing scenes of nature, old towns, castles, temples, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and modern cities. Some of which I also sketched from life.

When I returned from to Japan to Australia, I continued to sketch with my brush pens both publicly and at home, inspired by my trip to Japan, and the fascinating history and culture of the country.

The idea of Subway Sketching was inspired by Artist Bobby Chiu, founder at Imaginism Studios and Schoolism, who started Artist sketch meet ups on the subway trains in Toronto, Canada, and is still continuing on today.

Japan remains one of my favourite countries to travel to!

 

 

 

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A sketch of an old Japanese man squinting down hard as he looks at his phone on the train.

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Sketch of a Japanese man asleep on the subway.

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Sketch of an old Japanese lady asleep on train.

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Japanese lady reading on train.

 

Sketch of a younger Japanese man looking at his phone on the train.

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Japanese couple waiting for train

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Sketching Japanese people waiting in line for a Sushi restaurant in the street in Tokyo.

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A Japanese man asleep on the train on the way to Nikko, Japan

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Japanese girl texting on the train.

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Sketch of a Japanese girl passed out asleep on her bag on the train.

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Sketch of a man on the train to Nikko, Japan.

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Sketch of a Japanese lady on the subway in Osaka.

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Quick sketch of a Japanese woman on the subway in Tokyo.

 

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A small collection of very quick subway sketches underground in Tokyo.

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Sketch of an old Japanese man reading the newspaper on the Shinkansen bullet train.

 

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This is my sketch of Osaka Castle as I stood outside the entrance.

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Sketching Osaka Castle.

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This is my sketch of the Chureito Pagoda, Fuji 5 Lakes, Japan with Mount Fuji in the background.

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