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Hello! My name is Candace, and I’m a sketch artist with a passion for helping you connect with the world through art. Pull out your sketchbook and watercolors and find your favorite view — I’m glad you’re here!

Sketching Japan: In the center of it all in Tokyo’s Ginza district.

Posted on Apr 20, 2013 | 10 Comments
“I couldn’t really say I belonged to Tokyo and its coffee shops. But I had never felt this loneliness there. I could drink my coffee, read my book, pass the time of day without any special thought, all because I was part of the regular scenery.”
– Haruki Murakami

It’s a sunny Tuesday afternoon in Tokyo when I emerge from the Ginza subway station, on the hunt for a building I can’t remember the name of.

Sounds like a promising start to a sketching session, doesn’t it?

But after digging around online the night before and coming across a recent SketchCrawl of Tokyo (because yes! SketchCrawls totally exist! And I totally have to take part in one some day), I learned about a landmark called the Wakō Building.

Built in 1932, it sits right in the heart of the Ginza shopping district – i.e. the Fifth Avenue or Rodeo Drive of Tokyo, lined with Prada, Cartier, Burberry, Bvlgari and enough other luxury shops to make your wallet quake in its boots – and yet at first, the building I’m after is nowhere to be found.

I walk on, losing myself in the crowds, loving the vertical signs that hang from each storefront, until I notice the district section numbers (Ginza 4, Ginza 5, Ginza 6) keep growing larger. I still have much to learn about Japan, but I take this to mean I’m getting farther and farther away from the heart of Ginza, and thus farther away from the Wakō.

Not two seconds after turning around, it suddenly appears before me, with its famous Seiko clock tower chiming in two o’clock and its many windows reflecting the afternoon sun.

But not only that – right across the street from it is a two-story coffee shop called Le Café Doutor.

Japan travel sketch

Japan travel sketch

Japan travel sketch

The café has beautifully curved floor-to-ceiling windows that overlook the intersection and provide a perfect vantage point from which to view the Wakō – the only problem is that all of Tokyo seems to feel the same way, or so it seems on the packed second floor.

But only ten minutes later, a seat opens up and I sweep in, claiming my spot with a pearl iced au lait (otherwise known as an iced bubble coffee – as you might remember reading, I’m only mildly obsessed with any drinks containing tapioca pearls).

As I sketch, I keep looking out over the city spinning and swirling below me, feeling like I’m not only in the center of Tokyo, but in the center of the world itself.

I found the Wakō after all – and so much more. 

Japan travel sketch

Japan travel sketch

Japan travel sketch

Japan travel sketch

Japan travel sketch

  • Curly Traveller

    What a lovely post and sketches! I have never been in Japan yet, but it is high on my wishlist!

    • Thanks so much, Anja! And yes – you definitely need to get to Japan soon…it is swiftly stealing more and more of my heart the longer I’m here 🙂

  • Seriously, your sketches blow me away!

    • Thank you, Andi! I so appreciate your kind words and support – it means the world! Where are you off to next? 🙂

  • Wow!! Your sketches are probably the next best thing to being there at the place in person!!! So much detailing and full of life!
    Loving your posts, have a great time in Japan Candace 🙂

    • Arti! This makes me so happy. That is wonderful to hear, and I’m so glad I can bring these places alive for you through both words and pictures 🙂 Hope you are doing so well! Where are you off to next?

  • I love the photo of all your painting gear! So inspiring!

    • Thanks so much, JoAnna! I’ve been taking more shots of my sketching set-up recently, so I’m really glad to hear you enjoy it 🙂 Hope all is well, and enjoy the weekend!

  • Jen

    What I like about reading these blogs late is looking at the date and realising how much more of life you have been to since you sketched these drawings. I feel like I’m travelling in time.
    Also, I’m glad you’re getting the posts, but it’s not sending me notifications of follow-up comments. Boo!

    • BabuJ! I love that you feel like you’re time-traveling 🙂 That’s so fun to hear. But whether you’re looking at them soon after I post them or a bit later, I just appreciate you keeping up with my latest sketching adventure – it means so much! Also: I’m so sorry that you’re not getting notified about follow-up comments…the technical side of blogging is certainly not my forte, but I will look into it and see what I can do!