Painting the Cherry Blossom by Oita Castle

Today, I went to the castle again to paint the cherry blossom. Now it has changed as some of the blossom has fallen and there are small green leaves appearing. This combination is really beautiful and I tried very hard in these paintings to capture that combination.

Although the scene may have been inspiring some of the company certainly wasn’t and I understood intimately Hardy’s title Far from the Madding Crowd today; so to be more precise, it was young men drinking – it’s not a pleasant site. 

I was taking photographs and they wanted me to take a photograph of them – why? I couldn’t understand but obliged them just to keep the peace. 

Okay, so they were drunk but why do they get so interested in me and start speaking in English and saying things like “I’m a Jap” or “take off your pants”. 

Luckily, at least for me, this remark was made to a woman passing by and not to me personally.

But it must sometimes be very hard to be a woman.

Sadly, this was not the only distraction.

There were two people who both had a dog and they kept putting the two dogs close together, and these dogs were going berserk and barking insanely at one another. I often see dog people do this and I can’t understand why they do it.

Then I painted one more picture. My final one.

While painting this final picture the sun sank behind the trees and it got really cold. I finished with numb fingers as I often do this time of year.

I showed both paintings to my daughters to find out which one they preferred and they were very clear. If you want a clear, nay sharp, answer, always ask your teenage daughters and mine told me quite clearly that they preferred the first one. I think I agree with them; the composition of the second one is not quite right and I will make another attempt.

But this last painting was actually a commission. I was intending to paint something else when a young boy of seven or so appeared and told me quite matter of factly that I should paint the building in the above picture. And despite receiving no fee I decided to accommodate him; after all, it’s not an everyday thing. 

He later returned and wanted me to add the bigger buildings behind this watchtower but I refused as politely as I possibly could and he seemed to accept that.


This story was originally written in April of 2014. I am editing it in March of 2021. Interestingly today I will actually go to the castle with my family to look at the cherry blossom. We’ll also probably buy some lunch boxes and eat beneath the cherry blossom. It is a beautiful sunny day today so we are very lucky. 

Gareth Naylor

I am an Englishman living and painting in Japan. I have now been here for over 17 years and have been painting for all that time. I love to travel around the Japanese countryside and find beautiful places to paint.

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