I watched a lot of cartoons and movies. I draw incessantly and carry a sketchbook everywhere. I work in animation and self-publish my books. There are monsters in the streets, don't wear red. Mad bulls and monsters hate that color. I still watch cartoons.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Japan Entry No.2

Soho's in Jingumae. World conquest needs a good vantage point.

The most important component to my trip was timing my trip to coincide with Enrico's. We had mused one day in September or October about just jumping into an airplane to catch Miyazaki's "Howl's Moving Castle" in November. How cool would that be? And darned if we didn't do this trip right.

Being in Japan without any capacity to speak the language or make heads or tails of the trains and subways would be challenging to any first time visitor. If that first visitor is me, then multiply that challenged state a few hundred fold. But Enrico figured all that ahead of time and kept me informed and did the diligence of translating all our conversations with everyone he introduced me to.

Akihabara. Met a doll. She gave me the silent treatment.

I was tagging along and felt free to stare wide-eyed at the immense spectacle that is Tokyo. So, thanks, pal. Anytime you need a guide in Manila, let me know (actually, I've not been back for so long I'm likely to get just as lost. I can translate though). Now, I gotta go back to Japan with some Japanese lessons in my belt so I can figure all this out on my own and pass along the help to others.

Okay, besides just walking, shopping, meeting awesome people and eating astoundingly good food we both even got in some discussions on what to do about our books and careers next year. Sketchcrawl is such a great idea that it would be a shame to just keep this journal sketching jones to just the few who have done it with us. Enrico had started something really good here and people are responding. More will have to be done. Then there are the books and conventions. APE and San Diego. Perhaps Angouleme the following year so we can do what we did here in Japan there in France. What's next? Singapore? This travelling bug and meeting artists from other countries is such a blast that maybe we can keep this going. Hey, it doesn't cost anything to plan, eh?

The Ghibli Museum. We walked along a small lagoon that had trees turning their fiery fall colors and avoided stepping on ducks, a bedroom community really, then through a sparse park. Could there really be a museum in here? Before long, Enrico was saying, "We're here." Whoa. There it was. Not imposing in size but eyecatching really, blended well with its surroundings. Good job with that, I thought. We got treated very well at the museum and got to roam around before the doors opened. We were met at the door by Chihiro Tsukue who normally works in the studio but would be our guide through the museum.

As we stepped in and my eyes could not be bigger as I finally got to stand in front of these magical exhibits that I've only seen in pictures from others who've taken the tour. Man, if you think that Miyazaki is a master at creating convincing worlds in his movies, just wait till you walk around this museum. He designed the whole thing! There were exhibits that explained animation and all it's evolutionary manifestations. The most impressive was a circular animating loop of the characters from "My Neighbor Totoro" done in small sculpts, in-betweened to create a tableau of a merry-go-round of character cycles. The strobing light creates the film frames to hold the images in place and then--viola! Magic. Later we meet Goro Miyazaki, Hayao's son, who runs the museum and graciously welcomed us. He had illustrations in the museum which were fine engravings of such exacting detail. A chip off the old block.

I could go on and on about the stairs, the bookshelves, dioramas showing Miyazaki at work and as a Pig character; the hundreds of drawings on the walls surrounding the "imagined ideal workspace" of master Miyazaki, drawings on animation disks you can flip yourself, multi-plane camera set-ups...it was glorious.

Then, there was the Pixar exhibit. The gates of Pixar, Emeryville, replicated inside a room dedicated to the work of Pixar. Man, even we don't have this kind of exhibit back at work. It was so good to see work that can only be viewed in the archives but right here, arranged for viewing. Many pictures of John and Miyazaki together, even one of them in a plane worthy of Porco Rosso himself, with both of them in goggles. Then I find my own drawings from "Finding Nemo." Man that was so cool! My drawings are in the Ghibli Museum! The mind reels and implodes. I also had many caricatures on a board full of the Nemo story crew caricatures. But wait, there's more. A pastel illustration of Mike and Sully standing at the bus stop in "...Totoro" along with Totoro himself that we all signed. There was my signature and drawing of Nina, right below it is Enrico's drawing of Porco and a greeting in Japanese--they recognize him at the studio right away because of that.

But I wasn't done. There was shopping to be done. So off to the store where I proceeded to grab stuff like a madman, battling moms and grandmothers to merchandize that I feel I won't have a chance at ever again. These places do that to me, you see. I won't say that I went overboard but let's just say that my luggage needed to be sat on to zip closed.

Okay, I'm just prattling on. Go visit the museum. It's so worth the trip. I'd show you more pictures but that would just spoil the surprise when you get there.

Pencil and watercolor on Fabriano sketchbook page.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah! The Ghibli Museum - how wonderful. Thank you for sharing your adventures. If only... one day...
Those cookies are to-die-for.


3:01 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Top picture of Enrico. Priceless. He looks like a director.


9:10 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Charles- Director ???!!! XP

Ronnie- NICE watercolor !!!
but you are way too nice! You're making me sound like a professional translator when I can barely ask for directions.
I'll take you up on the Manila thing one day though !


11:01 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What's next? Singapore? This travelling bug and meeting artists from other countries is such a blast that maybe we can keep this going- Ronnie

WuU~whOoO! Singapore! I can be ur guide & we even can go down to Malaysia from here:> And u won't need any translator...wait maybe u need one, for Singlish (Singapore English).

I'm so very jealous of u & Enrico! I ALMOST make it to Japan this month... (sob, sob) its ok, Hong Kong will have to do. Wonderful photos & watercolour sketch! I really enjoy reading ur journal too.
Have a great X'mas & Fantabulous next yr!


4:14 AM

Blogger Ronnie said...

Loobylu--Someone brought home a tin of those to share at the studio a year ago or so and I was so jealous myself. I took pictures of it, lamenting that I couldn't have the tin. I did long for this a bit, huh? The cookies themselves are very good. I hope you visit the museum soon.

Charles--I was snapping pictures like crazy. We took pictures of each other for our documentation. If you were there then I'd have photos of you looking like the local governor.

The watercolor was started at Ghibli Museum and finished here at home. Wish we had more time and I would have sketched the rest of the day. Sigh. Next time.

OCEaN:D--Singapore?! You're on! That is, when I can scrounge up some time and moolah. Enrico and I definitely had Singapore on the top of the list as the country to visit next. Perhaps you can point us to websites of artists there? Or maybe a drawing commnunity like the Sketchbook sessions guys or the Flight people over there? Anyway, thanks for posting and have a wonderful holiday break.


5:42 PM


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