Illustrator captures Tokyo's 'Quartier Latin'

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A French illustrator is shedding new light on the Jimbocho district of Tokyo, traditionally the heart of the books and art business in the Japanese capital.

Martin Faynot, who is originally from the southern France city of Toulouse but has lived in Japan for the last seven years, is staging an exhibition from Saturday of drawings and sketches that capture the atmosphere of one of the few relatively untouched parts of Tokyo, a neighborhood that can be compared to Paris's "Quartier Latin."

"I have tried to capture the shops, restaurants, cafes and people of the area, which are all the particular beauty of this part of the city," said Faynot, 35. "There are lots of very old book stores in this area and a great atmosphere - and that made these works easier for me to draw because you can already sense the atmosphere."

Jimbocho is still something of a Bohemian district and Faynot's works range from the interiors of old-fashioned "izakaya," or bars, to the cluttered staircases of antiquarian book sellers and offer glimpses inside tiny local shops selling everyday items.

"Before I came to Japan I was influenced by the manga style of art that this country is so famous for, but I have found that since I have been here my own work as an illustrator has changed and become more personal," said Faynot, who works as a freelance illustrator of books and has done work for advertising campaigns and character design for animation productions.

"I realized about a year ago that I was focusing a lot of my work on characters, so this exhibition is something of a return to places more than the people," he said.
As well as the art, Faynot points out that a visual story will run through the background of the pictures on display, culminating in a punchline in the final image.

Venue: Hon To Machi No Annaijo gallery, Chiyoda-ku, Kanda Jimbocho 1-7-7, Tokyo

November 14 - December 11

Times: 11 am to 5:30 pm, Monday through Friday.

Further information: or +81 90 9854 8162