Blog: Tokyo

Inspired by Japanese Manholes

As many people I have an obsession with beautiful manholes … and so Japan did not disappoint, in fact …there were some of the most beautiful manholes I have ever seen and I thought I show just a couple

Almost every neighborhood has different manholes – depending also on what the neighborhood is known for.

this one was a “simple” one in Tokyo – sooo gorgeous!

OK- I am cheating LOL- I am sneaking in some pavement plates- because …excuse me …they are beautiful

This one is in Kyoto – I love the fans – and directions

And of course the most beautiful which I shared already – in Nara …I loved how colorful those little manholes and pavement covers were

No idea what this little Dude is …I assume a turtle …but mmhhhh – fun though!

And cherry blossom at Ueno Park.

Just for the Manholes I would go back – LOL. Which one of the selection here is your favorite?

Comments (4)

  • stephanie


    the flower. That is SO cool that they make the covers into art.


    • Nathalie Kalbach


      yeah -they are taking it a notch further with the manholes :)


  • Sue Clarke


    Cherry Blossom is my fav but they are all pretty cool.


    • Nathalie Kalbach


      agreed – now I want to go back and take more pix of manholes- LOL


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Art Stroll: National Museum of Modern Art- Tokyo, Japan

I spent a day in the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo and it was such a wonderful visit. It was refreshing to see Modern Art not from the usual suspects in Western Museums! The world …including the art world is so much bigger than what we think …it als always good to branch out and see things outside of the edge of our plates (probably a very German expression ;) )

Portrait of Chin-Jung,Sataro Yasui – 1934 – oil on canvas.

Yasui always sketched his portraits in a variety of angles and then intentionally combining different body parts from sketches with various viewpoints in an unbalanced way to create the impression the figure might begin moving at any moment.

The Five-Storied Pagoda of the Hokanji Temple, Kyoto by Kunitaro Suda, 1932 – oil on canvas

The area in the foreground of the pagoda is packed with utility poles and houses showing a striking contrast of changing times.

Wonderful views out …it was a gorgeous day

Junikai, a Twelve Story Building in Asakusa from Views of Tokyo by Kazuma Oda – 1916 – litography

Oda had a keen interest in the cities, especially in buildings that were undergoing a dramatic transformation during this period. The building depicted which was completed in 1890 was equipped with Japan’s first elevator. The tower was actually partly destroyed by the Great Knot Earthquake in 1923 and then demolished. Oda wrote immediately after the earthquake “Now, when I point to a tattered ukiyo-e print as a more durable thing than buildings constructed with reinforced concrete, you might laugh it off. But when we look at what the great earthquake has done, it becomes even more clear that I was not speaking thoughtlessly”.

Hirokoji Boulevard, Ueno from Views of Tokyo, Kazuma, Oda – 1916 – lithograph

Road to the Tank, Toshiyuki Hasekawa 1930 – oil on canvas

This gas tank was located in Senju and a unique Tokyo landmark. The color were just unreal!

Design for the Frontispiecie of Kodomo no Kuni, Harue Koga, 1932 – pencil and ink on paper

I loved this little dude!

Portrait of a Jewish Girl, Tomoyoshi Murayama, 1922 – oil, paper, wood and collage

Murayama dropped out of the university in Tokyo and went to Berlin in 1922, where he encountered various new Western art movements. The title of this work refere to a Jewish girl who lived downstairs in the rooming house where he stayed in Berlin. Such a beautiful piece!

Down, Taro Okamoto – 1948 oil on canvas


Flooded Town, Hiroshi Katsuragawa – 1950 – Oil on canvas

Illustration no. 12 ot the Novel The Wall by Abe Kobo, Hiroshi Katsuragawa 1951 – sumi, color on paper

another adorable dude!

Figure on the Back, Saburo Aso – 1961 – oil on canvas

The texture on this and the one below were incredible!

Mother and Child, Saburo Aso, 1959 – oil on canvas

Young of Grey Mullet, Seison Maeda, 1944 – Sumi on Paper

The title refers tot he young offspring of a fish called the gray mullet. the work makes it seem as though we are peering through the glass of a fish tank. It is a beautiful piece, unbelievable that it is not a photograph but a painting with sumi!

Girl, Gakuryo Nakamura, 1948 – Color on silk

Silk – so sheer and fragile and beautiful!

The whole museum was beautiful. Here are some tatami mats and some chairs to rest, the frames weren’t pompous but made sense with the artwork, everything was so tasteful and I noticed how orderly, quiet and thoughtful everyone was looking at the artwork – even at the most crowded special exhibition areas.

An Amazing Landscape, Gen’ichiro Inokuma – 1968 – oil on canvas

Purple Violet, Natsuyuki Nakansishi, 1983 – oil on canvas

a stunning piece with a 3D tactile effect.

Work, Toeko Tatsuno – oil on canvas

I love the pattern and colors on this piece!!!

It was such a great Art Stroll and I loved writing this post too because it made me look more into each of the artist’s work. What caught your eyes on this particular Art Stroll in Tokyo?

Comments (2)

  • julie b


    Ok, sign me up for your new stencils and stamps based on the last stunning piece! Donna will take a set too.


    • Nathalie Kalbach


      Awe- LOL- it is a beautiful pattern indeed! I hope to see you two in the summer when I am back in San Jose <3


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Inspired by: Tokyo, Japan

Japan was so so amazing – I am back now for a couple weeks and still so full of all the inspiration and impressions of this trip. I want to share some with you in a couple upcoming posts- this one is from our time in Tokyo. We were there a couple days in the beginning of our trip and a couple of days at the end.

This is a corner of the area where the Imperial Palace is located -you can only get into the palace if you apply for tickets way in advance for a certain day and time -but just walking through the park surrounding it was just beautiful.

Love those trees!

Koi everywhere – gigantic buggers- and to be honest, I am not actually a fish-person- LOL- I love their marks and colors- very cool!

Beautiful bridge iron work.

We were a couple days too early for a full cherry blossom bloom – Sakura -but some cherry blossoms and also as above magnolia were already out -so beautiful!

One of the many beautiful temple we saw. This one is the Hie Temple in Akasaka – I love the colors and all the details- the beautiful roofs.

Subway art – so beautiful!

Little electric cars zipping around at the Tsukiji Fish Market, which is one  of the largest wholesale food markets of any kind. Watching those cars cruising around at the market is watching like a little ballet – it was fun …btw at 6am in the morning because jet lag said- hey- just get up and going ;)

The Meiji Shrine is located in a beautiful forest – the Torii (gate above) is leading to the Shrine.

Colorful Sake Barrels on the way to the shrine, which are offered every year to the enshrined deities by nationwide brewers.

The Shrine – very empty as it was again early in the morning – see jet lag has some perks- ;)

We were actually witnesses a traditional Japanese wedding. At a Shinto reception, the bride will get married in a long white kimono. Then she may come to the reception in a colorful, embroidered kimono, then change into a Western-style white wedding dress, and then into an evening gown or a party dress. phew I get tired just reading all this- but hey it was sure really beautiful to look at.

Such a beautiful door at the Shrine! We visited even more Shrines and Temples- but hey- before you get Temple Fatigue I am saving more pictures of those for my special post from Nara for later :)

Did I mention that jet lag was a real troublemaker this time? Well 14 hours time difference were just not easy to deal with…but …well…you can actually see the busiest pedestrian crossing  of the world – Shibuya Crossing –  from a cafe window without ANY people on a Sunday morning- LOL. You might know it also from a scene in “Lost in Translation” – and boy I experienced the totally crowded crossing during rush hour in the middle of the week- woot what an adrenalin kick :)

There is actually a life camera of the crossing- check out if you are watching at actual rush hour- LOL otherwise it is boring ;)

Total nuts- telling you ;)

My husband was at a conference for a couple days and on one of the days I was on my own I actually took a Japanese Cooking Class. It was so much fun! I will tell you more about it in a different post- but I can highly recommend doing it through Airbnb Experiences with Yukari- From Market to Meal . It was a highlight of the trip and I already cooked several of the things I learned back home.

This man making water drawings was so cool – I loved this – he would ask people what their favorite animal is and then start drawing. And no…he did not want any money although he deserved it – he just did it for fun …so delightful!!!

a little walk over to the Asahi Brewery – not really for the beer but for the view and definitely a cheaper view than from the sky tree. The brewery building with the golden thing on top designed by Philippe Starck is supposed to be a flame. Well…it  is also know as “Golden Turd” or the “Poo Building” …go figure- lol

And I cannot resist showing those signs  – when do you usually see a “NO Rickshaws” sign?

It was awesome in Tokyo -I am still trying to get a grip of all the inspiration. I am sure some of it will resurface in one form of the other in the future ;) Next stop is Kyoto, I hope you will join me :)

Comments (6)

  • Judi Vreeland


    I love the photos of your trip to Japan. In less than 30 days we will be in Tokyo for one night before getting on the NCL Jewel. Did you have any problems obtaining cash, yen? Did you have any problems using a credit card. Thanks for your help. We are staying at the Keio Hotel just one night.
    Judi Vreeland


    • Nathalie Kalbach


      Judi, you will have such a great time :) There are ATM’s at the airport for the first money change and throughout the city of course as well. Credit cards were accepted in big department stores but cash is a better option for most restaurants etc. So I would advice getting a yen at the airport when you arrive to be save. Have a great time.


  • Sue Clarke


    The door at the Shrine!!! The trees! Awesome inspiration all around you in Japan for sure.


  • Jean Goza


    Loved your photos. The sights and colors look amazing! Thanks for sharing.



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