Japan Illustrated

An illustration series of memorable moments.

Client Private work
Produced by Dion (Studio WaveYourBrand)

Ichi-go ichi-e

Meanwhile, unfortunately, the journey to Japan has come to an end. But wow, what a country and what a source of inspiration! For me as an illustrator and animator, Japan was a place where you can never get enough. Everywhere you look, illustration and animation are intertwined in the Japanese identity.

During the trip, this led me to the idea of โ€‹โ€‹capturing a unique, memorable, and/or funny moment from every place we visited. A moment that I will probably never experience again. Ichi-go ichi-e, as the Japanese say it. The concept of cherishing the unrepeatable nature of a moment. In illustrating, I was inspired by the real world. Think of advertising, colors, textures, and my own photography. Here is the result!


In this image, you can see various colors, textures, and photos from which I drew my inspiration. As you can see, the entire illustration series has become a complete mix of our entire journey.

An illustration series that will never let me forget this unforgettable journey. Ichi-go ichi-e!


Akihabara Cat Cafe

Our journey started in Tokyo. A city that, according to our step tracker, we probably only saw about 2 percent of within 7 days. How do you illustrate a city that is so vast? A moment that showed me the madness and unique side of Tokyo was when we finally decided to visit one of the countless cat cafes. The idea is to interact with the cats and completely unwind.

The reality was that it was nearly impossible to get any form of interaction with the cats (unless you had treats). Was it fun? Not really. Was it unique and memorable? 100%. Would I do it again? Definitely not ๐Ÿ˜‰

Japanese Alps

Kazeya Ryokan

After a few days in Tokyo, it was time to seek some tranquility. We did this by staying at a Ryokan in the Japanese Alps. What is a Ryokan? A Ryokan is an accommodation where you can stay in a traditional manner, receive traditional meals, and where you can completely relax in an onsen (Japanese hot spring bath). It was delightful!

But what stayed with me the most at this place is the aura and character of the older generation. Some individuals could step straight out of an anime series. The man behind the counter was one of them. Very cheerful, kind, and with a presence that was hard to miss. Since I often draw characters for my work, I found this to be the perfect opportunity to illustrate a Japanese character. Thank you, Kazeya, for the pleasant stay! ๐Ÿ™‚


Sushi Incident

One thing you can’t ignore in Japan is the structure and streamlined processes. Public transport is never delayed, everyone waits patiently in lines at entrances, everyone takes their trash home to throw it away, etc., etc. But when something happens that is completely out of line with this structure, it suddenly becomes a memorable moment. That’s how we ended up in a sushi restaurant that was supposed to be very good according to Google Reviews. But nothing could be further from the truth.

Once inside, we were directed upstairs via a narrow staircase. We ended up in a room that served multiple purposes. Kind of storage, living room, and kitchen all in one. Even the rice cooker was still on the dining table, haha. From this moment on, so many things kept happening around us and going wrong. Ordering was impossible, every cupboard was constantly being opened, soy sauce spilled over the camera, leftover sushi piling up behind us on a table, unable to get wine because they had lost the corkscrew (too much to mention, haha).

But despite all that, everyone remained very kind, the staff tried their best immensely. They simply had let in too many people, and it was all beyond them. Therefore, we had a bit of sympathy for the situation! But it was so un-Japanese what was happening at this moment, that it couldn’t be missed in this series.


Gotta catch โ€˜em all!

Once we arrived in Osaka, it was impossible to ignore that this city would completely overwhelm us with sounds, colors, neon signs, claw machines, and so on. On the first evening, we stumbled upon a very cute little bar. The bar was so small that it could only fit a maximum of 6 people.

We struck up a conversation with a Japanese man. After much laughter and not understanding each other at all, a connection was formed. The man wanted to treat us to a round of drinks and let us taste all sorts of food that he really liked. Refusing was not an option (even impolite), and giving something back was completely out of the question. Only if he ever came to the Netherlands would he want to receive drinks and local food from us, haha.

After much laughter and awkward language barrier situations that we brushed off with ‘Kampai’, we ended up in one of the game halls full of claw machines. We told ourselves that we were just going to try a few times. But nothing could be further from the truth; it was so addictive that we spent a large part of the rest of the evening there. Luckily, we did catch a little JigglyPuff ๐Ÿ˜‰

Mount Fuji

A.k.a. Mount foetsie

Once arrived in Hakone, a small town near Mount Fuji, the weather was delightful. So, that afternoon, we immediately set out to see Mount Fuji! The sun was shining, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and our hopes were high. We traveled to a lake where a beautiful view of Mount Fuji awaited us from a nice tourist pirate ship.

Upon arriving at the lake, our hopes were a bit too high. The sun was shining, there were few clouds in the sky, except around Mount Fuji. As shy as Fuji is, she was completely wrapped in a lovely soft blanket of clouds. Thus, the pun “Mount Foetsie” was born. Fortunately, after a bit of rearranging our travel plans, we were able to see Fuji, and wow, this was the cherry on top of our entire trip!