I, like about a zillion others out there, have discovered the pleasure of the wave of adult colouring books that have been sweeping at this part of the world for the past little while. And having a few of them around now, I thought it might be nice to dedicate the last Saturday of each month highlighting a book from my collection.
(Also please excuse the less-than-great quality of the images here. I’ll try to take better pictures next time.)
Get your pens out, open this book, and discover Japan. Stop before the shop windows of Tokyo and get lost in the bustle of this futuristic glittering city. Or make your way to Kyoto, where an endless string of lanterns illuminates the night sky.
Let your pens and pencils replace your camera to capture the beauty of the kimonos, umbrellas, kites and landscapes that are found on these pages. Best of all, feel the stress melt away as your inner artist comes alive.
Appealing to all ages, this intricate coloring book will inspire and delight.
Being a fan of Japan as I am (go on, say that three times fast!), having a colouring book with sights and scenes from Japan seemed like a good idea to me. And at the time I bought this, De Las Cases’s collection was the only one that I’d really manged to find.
Lack of other options doesn’t mean that this book is a bad idea, something to only be purchased when nothing else is available, though. The art inside doesn’t always have the crisp clean lines that other colouring books tend to have, lending themselves more to something that would look good in watercolours rather than markers, but in a way, it makes the drawings feel all the more human. The images aren’t polished and all the lines the same thickness or completely clear and fully detailed, and that can be a bit intimidating when most colouring books do offer those things, but I rather like the style, and it makes the finished images feel more like collaborations than me just putting my own spin on somebody else’s work.
There’s a pretty broad range of images in here, too, from streets or buildings that could have originally come from photographs, to all-over designs that one might find on kimono, to images like the above, the whole page filled with variations on a theme. Personally, I feel the street scenes to be the most intimidating, since I feel like since they’re depicting an actual place I should colour it to look as it would in reality. Only I don’t always know what the right colours would be! So for the most part I’ve so far stuck with the variation images and the abstract designs, enjoying experimenting with colour combinations rather than going for the sense of realism that my brain is demanding.
It’s not really the most relaxing colouring experience I’ve seen, though, since some of the images are very busy and it takes time to properly sort out what’s what before you even start colouring. Others are much simpler, of course (as I said before, there’s a decent range here) and I would say more than it’s a good book to experiment with colour and design than the book’s subtitle, “Color Your Way to Calm,” implies. But that suits me pretty well, so I’m not holding that against it. If you’re the type to get comfort from creative experimentation, then this might well be a good fit for you.
Secret Tokyo definitely pleases the Japanophile in me, and I really like De Las Cases’s drawing style. Many different aspects of Japanese life and culture are portrayed here even plenty that would be almost instantly recognizeable to the Western eye (one page is even dedicated to Sailor Moon-inspired items and outfits), and there’s plenty of opportunity to sink into the potential beauty of an image and while away the hours bringing colour and life to the lines.