HAppy NEw YEar!

Here’s wishing you all a year of fun and frolicks!

I love the double chance at a New Year. Fresh starts, shiny behaviour, aspirational goals… This year 2014 started with a celebration in Japan, one of the places I feel most at home, where I spent a few weeks seeing friends, making prints and reconnecting with the country.

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The streets on the way to the Meiji shrine were lit up with fairy lights and flags, and Asakusa was filled with people who’d come to pray for good luck and happiness in the year to come.IMG_2781_e

Of course no national holiday would be complete without a spot of shopping, hanging out with friends and eating fun things…

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I had a chance to visit a few artists when I was in Tokyo: firstly Asaka Motoharu who is a traditional Japanese woodblock carver who has been working for over 40 years without (he claims) making a single mistake… Here is one of Masami Teraoka’s prints ( a riff on Hokusai’s Dream of the Fisherman’s Wife) that he carved and printed.

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Traditional tool shops still exist: this one specialises in knives and woodblock tools

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Arts Space Chiyoda is a maze of galleries, residency spaces and craft outlets in a converted primary school; this is where the Mokuhanga innovation laboratory has its headquarters. I was so happy to see the work of one of my students, Mareike Besch, on the walls there!

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After a night bus ride to Kyoto I was shocked at the cold temperatures, but the river view was the same as I remembered, bright and full of eagles.

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The annual coming of age ceremony was on so I got the chance to see the kids in their finery

IMG_3082_e IMG_3062_eI spent almost two weeks in Kyoto carving wood

IMG_3175_eEating

IMG_3281_eVisiting temples

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and my old university: Kyoto Seika: where woodblock is still going strong

IMG_3189_eeating some more

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enjoying the gorgeous landscape

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and last but not least….. admiring the loos…

IMG_3344_eNow I’m back in London, let’s see what the Lunar New Year brings!

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