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SENPO MAP and my Beppu adventure

Hello!
It's me, patokon with an update on some of the work I've been doing lately.
This year, my good friend Junya Hanada told me about his plan to open a guest house in Beppu which is about 3.5 hours away from Mifune where we both live. He also told me that he wanted me to design a series of cards featuring local little-known establishments that guests could choose in order to make their own personal itinerary. I was asked to handle design and illustration duties in addition to managing the volunteers who were students from various countries studying at Beppu's Asia-Pacific University.

First, let me tell you about the guest house. It is called In Bloom Beppu and is just a hop, skip, and a jump from Beppu Station. My friend Junya is one of the nicest guys you could ever meet and is doing his best to make In Bloom Beppu a great place to use as a home base for exploring Beppu.
This is Junya showing me around the Hell Hot Springs.  
This is In Bloom Beppu, though my photos don't do it justice.
Check out the homepage for great photos.
Now let me tell you about the project.
My first trip up to Beppu was in Feb. and I met with Junya, several Beppians who supported his conversion of a former summer residence into a guest house, and the APU volunteers.
This is the room I stayed in. It has a great old-fashioned feel to it.
There were several challenges facing me. The first one was deciding on which locations to focus on. Junya wanted lesser-known spots that were about half a km from In Bloom Beppu, but we wanted to keep it flexible. I suggested that we use the phrase "one thousand steps" or SENPO (千歩)  because it seemed more vague. SENPO MAP also had a very nice ring to it and thus the name of the project was born! I had a list of spots to work from provided by Junya, but it took a second fact-finding trip to nail down most of the spots. It was on this trip that I found a couple of really cool spots that weren't on the original list.
I made a second trip in May where I visited several locations and took photos.
Photos provided by volunteers were also a huge help!
I had the spots and a general feel for Beppu, but I needed a theme or direction to focus my illustrations. Besides hot springs and retro/vintage atmosphere, the one thing I noticed about Beppu was that there were a lot of cats!
This feller was hanging around the backstreets of the Hell hot springs area.
My daughter found this friendly puss right around the corner from In Bloom Beppu.
Once I had the theme, I came up with the design for the cover right away. Honestly, it took a much longer while for the illustrations to take form.
I was very happy with this, but was frustrated that the illustrations for the cards were taking me so long.
I came up with a rough design that I was happy with and then it was a matter of gathering the necessary data (names, locations, hours, facilities, photos etc.) and the volunteers graciously helped filling in the blanks on the shared spreadsheet I created. Again, the photos they provided were also a huge boon!
This is the first concept I came up with and the final isn't too far off from this except for the style I decided to use for the front illustrations.
The deadline loomed and I was worried about having to arrange all the data while also having to finish the illustrations. I did a little research and found that I could link the data directly to files in InDesign if I formatted the spreadsheet the right way. A little trial and error and everything linked up great! That meant I only had to focus on the visuals - arguably, the most important part!
It was slow going at first, but once I got into a rhythm, I was able to get several drawings done in a single work session. I mostly worked in order, but jumped ahead if I was inspired about a particular place.
As I raced to complete the illustrations on time while trying to meet other obligations (more on these in a future post), my wife Saho printed out master sheets, made copies, and cut and bound the finals to be sent to Junya for the grand opening.
The SENPO cards and SENPO MAP before shipping.
The SENPO cards on the wall of the public area of In Bloom Beppu.

The cat hooks add a really nice touch.
Was very happy to learn that the local paper wrote a piece about the SENPO MAP.
I'm very grateful to Junya for asking me to take on this project and the end result has been more than satisfying for me. Junya tells me that the SENPO MAP is a big hit with visitors. Here are some of my favorite illustrations that I made for this amazing project.
I just like the cat's expression here

Inspired by the stained glass in the community center.

Yum!

Ahh! Gotta love relaxing in a local hot spring!

Inspired by Kazuo Umezu, natch. Made to represent the awesome and creepy Genshisha library.

Inspired by Jenny Linsky books available at the library this illo is for.

A very classy-cool cafe with the best coffee I've ever had!

This lady is really sweet. Disclaimer: not actually a cat.

I've heard good things about this place.

Yum Yum

This is for a curry place that has hookah pipes.
Just love this feline here.
 I'll actually be adding a few more cards soon. I'll post an update here when SENPO MAP 2.0 is ready.

Thanks for making it all the way to the bottom! I hope to eventually turn some of these illos into postcards or prints. Let me know which ones you like best in the comments below or on my FB page.

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