Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Books #1 and #2: I'd spend a year almost anywhere,

but Tokyo or Paris would be top on my wish list.

Having lived in NYC for more than 15 years, I like to think I know the city pretty well. But I still love to wander the streets, exploring and looking and constantly finding new things.

And it's still fun to see such a familiar city through fresh eyes, which is one of the reasons I enjoy published sketchbooks like A Year in New York (looks like this is out of print, by the way); I love to see it all through the eyes of someone for whom it's all new and unusual.

So when I saw the similarly titled A Year in Japan, by a different author, I knew I had to read/see it. Todd and I spent some time in Tokyo a few years ago and loved every bit of it: the robot do-it-all toilets, the back alley noodle shops, the various styles of dress. All fascinating.

The concept for this book is similar to A Year in New York, although the two are completely unrelated: young artist spends a year living in a new city and records his/her experiences in a sketchbook journal that later gets published. But I especially loved, in this book, the attention to minute details. She notices the spectacular washcloths displayed in the department stores (it turns out that Japanese women use them to dry their hands in public washrooms. How cool!), the amusing use of English words on products and signs...

...the rubber stamps available in public places for souvenir hunters...

...the spectacular socks...

...the plum blossoms (Tsia wanted me to take this photo for you. In fact, she insisted.)..

...the children's school bags...

...and my favorite, the tiny plastic soy-sauce fish for take-out sushi. Obviously I liked mine well enough to take them home and save them.

In any case, it's a wonderful little cultural exploration, filled with lovely paintings and details that I enjoy dipping into again and again. And now I can't wait to get back there again, to experience it all myself through my own fresh eyes.

Hmm, I wonder if anyone has published A Year in Paris yet? Or A Year in the Netherlands? Sweden? Australia?


  1. Both those books look great! I have visited NY a few times and could spend days and days just wandering - but I have never been to Japan although it is high on my wish list and your beautiful book makes me want to go even more!!

    Love the sushi fish!!

  2. Thank you for sharing so many pages from your lovely book! What a beauty. I love those soy sauce fish too--cute.

  3. Anonymous5:03 PM

    I think that's such an awesome way to document your city. I'd love to do one on Chicago but I know so much has changed since I've been back home.

  4. Those books look great! I love the pictures you showed in the Japanese one. I am in Australia now, maybe I will dust off the watercolors and do one on the Outback? Lots of subtle wonders to be found here.


  5. What neat neat books! If I could get a sponsor I would be all over making those sequels!

  6. My daughter and I read Elisha Cooper's book "Beach" over the weekend and were equally charmed by the gestural sketches of all the people on the beach. I will check this one out, too!