I sketched in an orihon, an accordion folded book which you see in the image at the top. I drew on both sides of the paper. I enjoyed collecting mementos and attaching them with glue tape. Sections from this trip journal are below.
A picnic and and a party in Tokyo
We spent the first three days in Tokyo. On the first day, we toured Asakusa and Shibuya. We attempted both Edo-Tokyo Museum and Meiji Shrine but were disappointed that both were closed. A lot of the tourist attractions were closed for the year end. However, our moods were quickly lifted with a visit to the Studio Ghibli Museum in Mitaka and a picnic in the nearby park thereafter.
We took a day trip to Gala-Yuzawa, a ski-resort in Niigata, where we rode the gondola. It was too cold outside to hold a pen!
We were invited by our Airbnb host to join their Christmas and New Year’s Day gathering of very interesting guests; there was our host who worked at NHK Radio, a French photographer documenting decorative trucks, graphic designers, musicians, jazz singer, engineer, and even a ninja who just finished his martial arts training. While I was sketching the party scene, I discovered that I have a party-trick: my quick sketch. I showed them my sketchbook and travel watercolor set, with a little presentation about Urban Sketchers.
Biking, hiking and dining in Kyoto
For our first day in beautiful Kyoto, we cycled through the narrow streets of the old quarter of Gion, watched a magnificent sunset at Kiyomizudera, and finally ended our day with an okonomiyaki (an omelette-like dish) and yakisoba (stir-fried noodles) dinner at Pontocho Alley.
The following day, we headed west for Kinkakuji, Ryoanji and Arashiyama. Since the bicycle rental shop was closed for the day, we ended up taking the bus and randen (electric tram), another interesting experience. Kinkakuji was flooded with tourists, but yet, the golden pavilion stood majestic in its context with the reflective pond and landscape.
The serene bamboo forest in Arashiyama took us further with a hike up the hill for another sunset overlooking Kyoto basin. By the time we headed to the randen station, the colorful Kimono Forest installation was glowing against the twilight sky.
Before we left for Nagoya, the next day, I had to see Fushimi-Inari, after countless postcards and movie moments of those red tori gates. I was not disappointed, but again, it was flooded with tourists. However, the further up the hill we climbed, the less tourists there were, and thus, it was less busy, and the view from up there towards the Kyoto basin was amazing; this time from the east.
A tour of historic sites in Nagoya
I was looking forward to spending some time catching up with my old high school friend who now lives in Nagoya. She treated us to our first night at a hotel next to the Nagoya Castle, where we enjoyed a nice breezy sunset stroll around the castle.
The next day, we made our way out of town to visit the heritage site of Shirakawa-go and Takayama. This would be my second time experiencing snow, and first time sketching in snow. Takayama was famous for the dark-stained timber buildings and plenty of shops serving hida beef, which definitely lived up to the expectations.
Peggy Wong, an architect turned builder, is currently based in Kuching, Sarawak of Malaysian Borneo. Together with two other architects, she co-founded Urban Sketchers Kuching.
You can see more of her sketches from this trip here on flickr.