I paid a visit to my old neighborhood yesterday: Little Tokyo in downtown Los Angeles. First, I walked past my leaky old window. It still has the curtains I rigged up four and a half years ago. They’re looking pretty worse for wear now.
Then lunch at Suehiro. I sat at the counter and ordered the Okonomi Plate. Katsu chicken, vegetable gyoza, and boiled spinach. Along with that comes miso soup, mac salad, and a sort of slaw. I was eating my spinach when I sensed this little japanese lady sitting beside me, laughing under her breath. When I turned to look at her, I saw she was laughing at me. She said, “No soy sauce. Usually, eat with soy sauce.” And she continued to quietly chuckle. I said, “Oh, yeah, I guess so, but it’s fine like this.” She chuckled again. “No flavor,” she said. “No, there’s flavor,” I said. “It tastes like spinach.” I smiled. “Okay,” she said, “but I think, no flavor.” I caved. “Alright, alright,” I told her, and I drizzled some shoyu on the spinach. I have to admit it was a little tastier.
I struck up more conversation with the lady as we ate our meals. She had ordered rice balls — triangular hunks of rice wrapped in nori (dried seaweed), usually with something at its core, such as salmon or dried plum. These didn’t have anything inside of them. She didn’t realize that when ordering. No flavor, she said. I mentioned that I liked rice balls with dried plum and she told me that the best is in her hometown of Mito, north of Tokyo. Best umeboshi. That’s the dried plum. We talked more about where we were from. I mentioned Seattle. She told me her daughter had lived in Seattle. Now she lives in New York where she teaches pole-dancing. I showed the lady my drawing of a soy sauce bottle, miso soup, and katsu sauce bottle. She told me that she paints — watercolor — and that her daughter likes owls, so she paints owls for her daughter. I quickly drew an owl on the page with the other drawings. We laughed at it.
After lunch, I went over to Kinokuniya Bookstore and picked up a few things. Some new Aquash waterbrush pens — small, medium, and large, and some sumi ink. I noticed one of the Aquash sets came with a waterbrush pen already filled with sumi ink. I didn’t want to buy the whole set, so I just got the ink and decided I’d fill one myself. I’ve yet to do it, but am looking forward to experimenting with that.
I also got something I’ve been wanting to pick up since seeing a post on Enrico Casarosa’s blog several months back. Hiyao Miyazaki’s Original Storyboards for My Neighbor Totoro.
I still haven’t gotten a real chance to devour this book, but from flipping through it a couple of times so far, one thing that really stands out to me is how he actually uses quite few lines, yet he is able to really illustrate and communicate or describe what he wants to so clearly. More lines would just get in the way. I think this really illustrates his mastery as a draftsman and is something I could certainly benefit from by keeping in mind.