We've seen beautiful watercolor paintings explore the quaint and nostalgic old buildings of Tokyo along with the winding hills of the Japanese countryside, but perhaps it's in the black and white pages of manga artist Kiyohiko Azuma (most famous for manga Yotsuba&!) that Japan's countless beautiful backdrops are most seamlessly recreated. In contrast to bubbly and brightly drawn anime characters, Azuma's detailed backgrounds make for a lifelike recreation of urban Japan.

The incredibly realistic background illustrations are certain to provide a source of nostalgia for anyone who has walked around the streets of Japan, but also provide a representation of how aesthetically eclectic parts of any given town can be. In what will sometimes look like a crammed maze of skyscrapers, narrow alleyways will lead to curious and open neighborhoods and even a sudden view of shrines and castles in the distance.

In a translated interview via Spoon & Tamago, Azuma says of the juxtaposition between cartoony and realistic aesthetics, "I lean toward realism, but at the same time, it’s not like I’m trying to make things actually realistic–what I’m going for is more like having a somewhat strange character within a realistic world. Now, that’s pretty standard in manga, but what I’m aiming for is to strike the right balance of being ‘somewhat’ strange–not too out there, but not too normal, either.”

Courtesy of Designstack, you can check out some examples of Azuma's vivid recreation of Japanese backdrops.

By - grape Japan editorial staff.