Shodoshima | Travel to Japan | GeoEx
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Still Life in a Shodoshima Souvenir Shop

By Candace Rose Rardon | December 23, 2015

Candace Rose Rardon is an American writer, photographer, and artist who recently returned to the United States after years of living and traveling in Europe and Asia. She sketches as she travels, and these sketches, combined with the stories behind them, charmingly capture those fleeting, layered moments that are the stepping stones of travel. Wanderlust will be presenting her on-the-road sketches-and-stories—her sketchbook of serendipities—in the months to come.

Portrait of a Moment

The rain starts not long after I arrive on Shodoshima.

I’ve come to this small island in Japan’s Seto Inland Sea to walk a 160-kilometer pilgrimage called the 88-Temple Circuit. But before I begin, I’ve given myself a day to settle in. As it is, I’m okay with the rain—for today.

The only problem is that my plan to do a sketch of the island’s rugged landscape is now thwarted, and I find myself running for cover into a souvenir shop by the ferry terminal. The shop just happens to have a long counter with a few bar stools. I grab one, order a coffee, and look around for some back-up inspiration.

And then it occurs to me that sometimes the best thing to sketch is simply what’s right in front of you. And what’s in front of me here in a Shodoshima souvenir shop is a wonderfully eclectic mix of objects: a wooden container of disposable chopsticks, a fish tank, three violets growing in a glass ashtray, and an olive branch placed in a vase—a perfect still life if I ever saw one.

But it’s while I’m laying the scene out in pencil that the sketch takes on a new layer of meaning. This time the year before, I was walking the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage across northwest Spain—and among the 13 kilograms of mostly unnecessary items I had with me was a book called One Sketch a Day: A Visual Journal.

There was a lot of rain on the Camino, too, so a large number of my sketches were done indoors. “You draw many bars,” one barista astutely observed, but only because there were so many along the way, where one could get a café con leche and wring the rain out of your clothes.

Before reaching Shodoshima, I’d wondered if there would be any connections between this pilgrimage and the Camino. As I sip my Japanese drip coffee, yet again taking cover from the rain, it seems I’ve found my answer.

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