Watercolor Paintings of a Small Japanese Town called Hiji

In March, I went on a family trip to Hiji to look at the Cherry blossoms.

It took a long time to drive there because of traffic but it was worth the hassle.

Hiji is a small, quiet town by the sea with many attractive traditional Japanese buildings. After parking the car, we walked down to the sea. Next to the sea are the walls of Hiji castle and by these walls are the Cherry trees.

Here we ate delicious food from our lunch boxes and enjoyed the gloriously sunny weather and a lovely view of the sea.

Although not in full bloom, the Cherry blossoms looked very beautiful. And I did think of doing a painting of the Cherry blossoms here but in the end changed my mind.

What really captivated my attention was the beach and the sea.

After lunch, I and my daughter explored the beach. It was a very rocky beach with a sea wall that was fortified with a big stack of triangular-shaped, concrete tetrapods. 

At first my daughter was reluctant to step onto this overly rocky beach. And some of the rocks were so big that you had to climb over them. I suppose it was rather a rugged and somewhat unfriendly beach. You certainly had to watch your step. 

I wanted my daughter to come though so I gently coaxed her in order to get her to come. Once she did, her reluctance soon disappeared as she became interested in the rock pools and all the different stones and shells we could see. And further on the beach became sandy which my daughter liked a lot. She collected many stones and shells in her cap.

We also saw a few sea roaches. They are rather unpleasant to look at but harmless bugs. I have never seen them in England but in Japan, when it gets hot, you can see many of them by the coast.

I took several photos of this beach and that led to the following painting. I’m quite happy with this painting, especially the figures. Although perhaps they need to be connected to one another more.

Painting 1

Then we joined up with my wife and walked along the coastal path. It eventually led us to another beach. I liked the view of this beach and the man walking across it and this later became a painting – well, several paintings.

Painting 2

Here I took a photo of my daughter on the beach. I really liked the image and did a painting of it. Well several. But I’m still not happy with my results.

Painting 3

And it was here that I got out my drone and took some aerial photos of the beach and the coastline. I’m not sure if these photos were so good but I did two paintings from one of these photos. I’m quite happy with the second one, which you can see below, but I still think it needs improvement – maybe one day.

Painting 4

Then we went to a visitors center. It was in the style of a traditional Japanese building.

Here I saw some strange flat fish in a fish tank that are found in the sea around Hiji.

I also drank some Mango juice which was very refreshing. And I learnt a little about the history of Hiji. I discovered that there used to be a castle in Hiji but it was knocked down in the Meiji period and only the walls were left.

I also discovered that there are some scenic walks around Hiji and I am eager to go on them as I love to walk.

And then it was time to go home. It was an epic trip home though. For the sun was low in the sky and I saw some beautiful, hazy evening scenes. I took many photos and had to delete most of them later. But eventually I combined 2 photos that I really liked and created a single painting from them. 

I was very interested in the vision of sunlight shining through a cherry blossom tree at evening time. I’m not sure, though, if I went too far with the colors and have produced some psychedelic vision. That said, I feel the urge nowadays to experiment more and to try to paint more on the wild side – if possible – in my paintings. I don’t always succeed but I try to go along with this urge. Below is my favorite one and it wasn’t my last one but I think my second attempt out of six.

Painting 5

Maybe painting this scene six times was excessive, but I was really caught up with the beautiful chalky lilac color of Cherry blossoms in the evening time and the idea of light shining through them and imbuing them with a crimson hue.


Attempt 1

Attempt 3

Attempt 5

Attempt 2

Attempt 4

Attempt 6

Painting Trip to Hiji Video

That’s all for now, Gareth.

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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