‘He’s not a Japanese artist, you know,’ said the girl at the Berloni Gallery when I gave her my Sequins and Cherry Blossom card. I know. But Carl Randall, winner of the 2012 BP Travel Award, is a former Daiwa Scholar who studied at the Tokyo University of the Arts and paints remarkable hyperrealistic yet subtly distorted portraits of Japanese people. So I wanted to see his latest work. Continue reading
Tokyo is not as well provided with green open spaces as London. There are a few parks in the centre, like Hibiya Park, but nothing like the great swathe of green that runs through the centre of London, from St James’s Park all the way to Kensington Gardens. But they do have one magical place; the National Garden in Shinjuku. I always visit Shinjuku Gyoen when I’m in Tokyo so of course I went there last week. It’s azalea season, one of the loveliest times in the park. Let me show you what I mean. Continue reading
Vincent Van Gogh loved Japan – and Japan loves Van Gogh. A new book, The Sunflowers are Mine by Martin Bailey, published this week, has some intriguing insights into both sides of the love affair, from Van Gogh’s admiration for Japanese prints to the sad fate of one of his sunflower pictures, bought by a Japanese collector. Continue reading
I always pop into the National Portrait Gallery over the summer to see the pictures in the annual BP Portrait Award. It’s a popular exhibition and it’s fun choosing a favourite picture. But this year I went particularly to see the 2012 Travel Award winner – Carl Randall, who was commissioned by the Portrait Gallery to paint the people and places along the Tokaido Road (the ancient route between Tokyo and Kyoto) and whose exhibition In the footsteps of Hiroshige: Portraits of Modern Japan is part of the Portrait Award show. Continue reading
I know, I’m going into cherry blossom overload mode, but I just couldn’t resist sharing some more pictures with you. I took these at Shinjuku Gyoen (Shinjuku National Garden), which is a short walk from Shinjuku Station. I love it and always go there when I’m in Tokyo, so visiting in cherry blossom season this year was very special. Continue reading
The Japanese Embassy have a free public exhibition about the Tokyo Olympics so I went down to have a look.
It’s a small, intimate show featuring photos, memories and souvenirs from British people who were there. The collection of cigarette packets with Olympic advertising was a bit of a shock – it shows how much the world has changed since then. Continue reading
If I was in Tokyo today I’d go to the Tokyo Kaikan to see the Starlight Fantasy Special Edition Dinner Show by former Takarazuka Top Star Saki Asaji. The lucky people who are there to see it will get a great meal, then see a song and dance show with spectacular costumes. I wish I could join them! Continue reading