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  • Magnificent-Birds

Narisa Togo

As a child

I was born in a city close to Tokyo, Japan. I saw my first kingfisher when I was twelve and was fascinated by the bird kingdom. I made birding friends at school and started visiting nearby river and woodlands every weekend with them. I lived in Bangkok for a year and during that time I joined my very first bird-watching tour, lead by Kamol Komolpharin, who is also a great illustrator, and he showed me his field sketches of birds. I wanted to be able to draw like him and started to practise field sketches.

As an adult

I majored in Ecology at Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology and spent four years doing field research of wildlife and plants. With my interest in environmental education and drawing nature, combined with my love of books, I decided that I should make picture books about birds and nature. I went to study on the Children’s Book Illustration Course at Cambridge School of Art in the UK. I learned printing technique there and fell in love with it.

As an author-illustrator

I am now freelancing and working on anything that has to do with birds and illustration. That includes writing articles on the BIRDER magazine in Japan, leading bird-watching tours, making illustrations for environmental organizations, designing bird juggling balls and cloth book covers, even giving lectures on bird watching!

Ten things we didn’t know about Narisa Togo

  1. Santa Claus gave me the first pair of binoculars and a bird book, which was the start of my bird-watching career.
  2. My favourite books of all time are the Swallows and Amazon series by Arthur Ransome.
  3. During high school, I was a member of a mountain hiking club. I climbed a few three-thousanders and several two-thousanders in the Japanese Alps and camped a lot.
  4. I love maps. I am good at reading them and also love drawing them. I often make a travel journal in the form of a map after visiting somewhere.
  5. In my third year in the UK, I lived in a lady's house, whom I met at Mill Road Cemetery while birdwatching there. I learned reduction method, which I used in the Magnificent Birds book, from a linocut print on her wall, by poring and staring at it for a long time.
  6. The first thing I did after coming to the UK was to look for a European Robin, which I spotted in the garden from my room’s window.
  7. I visited almost all the nature reserves in East Anglia during my stay in Cambridge thanks to my RSPB Cambridge Local Group friends.
  8. The place that excited me most in the UK was Bass Rock in the Firth of Forth.
  9. . I have been to St Paul Island in the middle of the Bering Sea, Alaska, leading Japanese bird-watching groups as a translator.
  10. I always keep my field sketchbook. My current bird notebook (A6) is the 47th one and travel sketchbook (A5), the 26th one.

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