From late 1999 until the Fall of 2005, I was living and working in Japan. I did a fair amount of drawing and painting during those years (Oh, I can’t believe how much TIME I had on my hands before having children!!!), and I was especially fond of colored pencils.
I was/am also quite fond of plays on words, and one day while taking the train to Shinjuku, I listened to the announcement warning against forgetting things on the train as you exit. In Japanese, there’s one word to describe a forgotten item; “wasuremono.” “Wasure” comes from the verb “to forget,” and “mono” means “thing.”
But “mono” also means “monkey” in Spanish, so as I looked up at the luggage rack, listening to the announcement over the intercom, I imagined a monkey that someone might have forgotten on the train, a “forgotten monkey,” “wasuremono.” There are a lot of words that are formed with verb +”mono” in Japanese, and my mind whirled with ideas for silly little drawings of monkeys. This began my series of colored pencil drawings of kotoba asobi (play on words) between Japanese and Spanish, some with the monkey as the thing, some with the monkey using/doing something.
My friends and students were very helpful in coming up with more ideas for me, and I had a blast putting them into drawings. Eventually I made postcard prints and sold them at Design Festa, a huge art event in Tokyo. http://designfesta.com/en/
Today I thought I’d share a few of my “mono” pictures with you!
Araimono = dishes (to wash)
Arau = to wash, mono = thing
Iranaimono = a not-needed thing
Iranai= don’t need, mono = thing
Kanamono = hardware
(no verb that I know of)
Yakimono = grilled food (like yakitori, yakisoba)
Yaku = to grill/fry, mono = thing