Rather than writing and illustrating a general summary of Japanese culture from her American perspective, Kate T. Williamson hones in on the lesser-known, smaller perplexities and observations of the place she called home for a year. Things like heated rugs and other creative devices used to warm homes with no central heating, the fleeting beauty of cherry blossoms, and sumo wrestlers dressed in kimono using the ATM, are but a few of the small but fascinating moments that Williamson chronicles in this travelogue of her year living in Japan.
While there are illustrations on almost every page, this
is more of a travel journal than the paneled, sequential art you
think of when you think of a graphic novel. Whatever you call it though,
it is certainly unique and intriguing. Illustrations and text are done in a minimalist style
that complement the sacred, zen-like aura of the city of Kyoto where
Williamson lived during her time in Japan. If she had lived in Tokyo, I
have a feeling her art might be more frenetic and colorful. I get the
sense, however, that Williamson uses the frequent white space in this book very
strategically. The text is handwritten in a small but breezy style, and the watercolor illustrations are both bold and minimal at the same time. Anyone looking to soak up the culture of Japan will appreciate the small, detailed observations that Williamson chronicles in A Year in Japan. Better yet, her work might even inspire readers to go out and observe and chronicle the small nuances in their own culture.
A Year in Japan by Kate T. Williamson
Published: Feburary 2, 2006
Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press
Disclosure: Library Copy