"Japanese New Year"

by Azusa Okumura

Inspiration sometimes comes from my emotions. When I feel happiness, sadness, and even anger, I want to convert these feelings into my artwork.

At the time I began working on this series, I was feeling a little bit homesick. It was around my first New Years since moving to Australia. As some of you might know, New Years is an exceptionally important family get-together event for Japanese people, like Christmas or Thanksgiving in Western countries.

I already knew what it was going to be like to spend New Years out of Japan from my experience in other countries. I was totally ready, and I was confident that I was not going to miss my home country. But things changed when the date got close to the end of the year. My Instagram feed was filled with the images of Japanese people getting ready for New Years: the end of the year countdown, seasonal foods, and the flood of excitement for the coming year.

That was when I felt strong emotions and got the inspiration for creating this series at the same time. I realized how I miss my traditions and sharing the moment with others. So, I started collecting the things I wanted to do and that show the atmosphere of New Years. “Toshikoshi soba” which is a Japanese tradition of eating soba noodles on New Year’s Eve before midnight, is one of them. Eating a hot bowl of soba with “Ebi fly(fried shrimp)” in the chilly winter day, putting both legs into “Kotatsu” and watching TV. The whole image made me smile, and I wanted to share this warm feeling with people all over the world. I turned them into an illustration in my style while giving them a sense of Japanese taste colour and composition.

This illustration made me not only satisfied, but also like I was part of the celebration, even though I was in a faraway country. Sharing on Instagram, I felt really connected throughout the piece to my home country and people all over the world.

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