Watercolor Painting of the Cherry blossom by Oita Castle


So, it is cherry blossom time and people are gathering under the cherry  trees, called Sakura, and having picnics and that’s what I did today with my family. It’s all very festive and sociable.

My father-in-law, who loves Japanese history, was trying to tell me about cherry trees being gifted to America by the Japanese in 1912. They were first planted along the Potomac river and have become a symbol of friendship between Japan and America.

Although beautiful, cherry blossoms are difficult to paint in watercolor because of their lightness of color and it is necessary to leave white paper in order to achieve this lightness.

A few years ago when I attempted to paint cherry blossoms I was so disgusted with my results that I just gave up.

Last year, however, I had another go and was a little more pleased with the results. And so this year I had another go. To be honest, I still feel that I haven’t captured that delicacy and beauty, however, I am happy with these results and look forward to doing more cherry blossom paintings in the near future.

Above is my first painting which was at Oita Castle; it should really be called Oita castle wall as there is no castle. I loved the position of this tree and it expressed to me how I feel about trees which is that they are explosions occurring in really slow motion – bloom-plossions I guess.

While painting the picture above a tourist from Honolulu stopped to talk to me and tell me about his life and travels. He was wanting to visit Beppu, the city next to Oita and famous for its natural hot spas and hot sand baths, but he’d ended up in a hotel in Oita. It was really enjoyable to speak to a native English speaker as sometimes I go for weeks without talking to such a person except for family on the phone. I am somewhat of a recluse and certainly not a party animal. Well, I can’t waste valuable time that could be used for painting. And also there aren’t so many foreigners around in Oita.

Below is my final painting of the day.

While I was painting this final one I got numerous compliments from people, especially old Japanese women, and two Chinese girls came and talked to me and even took a picture of my painting and a picture of me next to one of them. 

This used to happen a lot when I first came to Japan but is now quite rare – probably because I’m getting wrinkly.

I left with the sun going down and large groups of people coming with crates of beer and barbecue grills. It looked fun.

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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