The book also lays claim to a (well-deserved) educational purpose, illustrating the different types of one of the fundamental architectural components, the roof – pitched, gabled, mansard – and teaching younger readers about the history of the lavatory, “an often-forgotten element when designing a building,” Yoshida writes. “Japan is in the vanguard when it comes to the cleanliness of toilet facilities,” he points out proudly.
Yoshida is not just extremely generous when it comes to the richness of his watercolours, the same is also true of his unveiling of artistic secrets. “Designs that are too detailed leave little room for the imagination. That’s why I only colour my characters in roughly, in just a few layers, just as I don’t entirely finish off the interiors or the furniture either.” In the last chapter, Making, he takes as an example the miner’s engine room, explaining that the first step is to think about the type of construction. “I wanted to create a narrative through the illustrations, I try to imagine a building that’s not just aesthetically pleasing, but which also communicates something of its origin and the history behind it.” He then talks about sketches, working up mock-ups, colours, correcting shades and textures. Lastly, from colouring the views of interiors he moves onto the exterior ones, suggesting how best to render the earth, clouds, sea, pebbles and beaches. A small, great lesson.
The final illustration of an interior is that of his studio, simple and modern, giving readers an opportunity to imagine how he spends his days at work. Not too much leeway, though – on the plan, the arrow indicating the entrance is accompanied by a message “the entrance door is lockable.” A kind way of keeping intruders out of his imaginary world. Sometimes, we dream alone.