Best Japan Coloring Books 2021

Japan is known around the world for design. So it’s no wonder that Japanese coloring sheets and books have become hugely popular in recent years and are perhaps amongst the most popular Asian coloring pages available. The concept of mindfulness has largely come to the West through the filter of Japanese buddhism, and the new coloring books for grown ups movement is intrinsically linked to the idea of mindfulness. Japan also has a strong tradition of making fine paper and crafting paper objects, so in many ways there is a perfect storm of factors that come together to make the Japanese Coloring Book so, well, right.

I’ll go through some of the different types of Japanese coloring books for adults below, be first I’ll go ahead and show you my very top picks.

You may also be interested in the Japanoscope guides to Japanese Wall Art, Studio Ghibli Posters, and Japanese Wall Scrolls.

Table of Contents

My Top Six Japan Coloring Book Picks

#1 Floating World Woodblock Print Coloring and Art Book

I love this book, it really is as much an art book as a straight out coloring book. It has beautiful full-color images of 22 ukiyo-e woodblock prints. In addition it gives you a full page background on each artwork and artist. So you’re learning about the history of this wonderful Japanese artform, but doing it in an active way where you are recreating the artworks. The coloring pages are actually recreated from the original artworks themselves, so they are incredibly accurate.

The only drawbacks are that they may be too intricate for some, and 22 images is less than some other options.

#2 Female Beauy Coloring Book

This is an exquisite, rare book of Japanese feminine beauty. The pictures are very detailed and represent a great challenge for people that like intricate coloring work. The design is also fantastic and it intersperses poetic pieces of text in Japanese – for those want to to do some Japanese study while they color (or just like observing the beauty of the language itself).

The only drawbacks are that they may be too intricate for some, and 22 images is less than some other options.

#4 Japonisme Natural Coloring Book

japnoism2

Exquisite Japanese flowers, birds, landscapes based around the theme of “Japanonisme” – the European craze for all things Japanese in teh 19th century. Highly detailed, the Japanese on the cover says 上級者向け “aimed at advanced colorers”.  98pages /343g.

#5 Kimono Beauties Coloring Book

kimono sugata 2

This one has a truely dignified classic feel. The pictures feature many of the tropes of traditional Japanese culture, such as cherry blossoms and Japanese architecture. The book only features 16 picures to color, so it may not be substantial enough for some, but each picture is a work of art in it’s own right.

#6 Vive Le Color Japan Coloring Book

Not so much a “book” as a bumper “pad” of 72 wonderful patterns and images. It’s top bound with glue, so you can easily remove individual sheets. The Vive Le Color coloring book range are tremendously popular, so you know you’re going to get something that is generally good quality. This book is fairly small, which makes it pretty portable. The downside is that this also means that a lot of the designs are small, and can feel a little “cramped”. It’s a trade off really. Still this book has so many fans, it pretty much couldn’t be left out of the top list.

Japan Coloring Book Genres

Japanese coloring books have been so popular that there is now a plethora of sub-genres to choose from. Given the colorful elegance of the country’s national dress, unsurprisingly kimono coloring books and books of beautiful women wearing kimono are amongst the most popular.

 Likewise, Japanese coloring pages that feature samurai and traditional Japan are a common theme. These fall within the larger genre of historical coloring books.

Given that Zen buddhism is intimately associated with Japanese culture, unsurprisingly zen coloring books, as well as mindfulness/stress reduction related resources.

 

Of course, Japan is the world home of manga art so manga coloring books are also on the top of many people’s coloring lists. There is even a sub genre of saucy to outright erotic coloring books. Who would have thought the world of eroticism and coloring in could become so, ahem, intimately entwined.

One of my favorite things about Japan coloring books is that some of them mix in coloring with short excerpts from Japanese literature, haiku and quotes. So you can learn about the culture while you are honing your shading skills. 

The genre of Woodblock Print coloring pages, called Ukiyo-e 浮世絵 in Japanese, is another wonderful meant-to-be rabbit hole of coloring to go down. The vivid colors in woodblock prints really makes them a perfect candidate for getting your colored pencil set a-scratching. What better way to gain a deeper understanding of the creation process behind this rich vein of Japanese artistry. After all, even in Western arts traditions, the first step for budding painters is a trip to the gallery to make hand drawn sketches of the great masterworks. 

As in Japanese aesthetics more generally, nature is a strong theme Japanese coloring pages and books. Mt Fuji, Cherry blossoms, sakura, maple leaves. They’re all in there.

What to look out for when buying an adult coloring book?

Although the tendency is obviously to choose a coloring book based on the overall aesthetic of the design, it is worth keeping in mind that there are several practical considerations that you should consider when investing in a coloring book. Here’s a list of some of the main ones.

Paper Quality

Thickness and paper type come into play here. Thickness is especially an issue if you like to color using markers rather than colored pencils. If the pictures are double sided, then the thicker the paper, the more likely you will actually be able to color on both sides without the colors bleeding through.

Size

For home coloring, usually the bigger the better. If you want to do your coloring on the commute, you’ll want to check to see if the size of the book you are getting will fit into your bag.

Perforated or non-perforated

Do you display your finished designs on your wall, give them to friends as a present etc. Is it important for you to be able to easily tear out your artwork? If so, perforated pages should be one of your criteria.

Do you want extras?

Some Japanese coloring books come with cultural information and literary quotes etc. Others have designs that you can cut out and paste in a scrapbook. Some mix up coloring and craft, such as origami. Is this something you would like or do you want to keep your coloring simple. Ultimately it comes down to your own personal reason for coloring in the first place (relaxation, decoration, fandom etc.)

Design Type

This is the one that most people look to first. But aside from purely aesthetic things to think about, there are also some practical considerations. Probably the main one is, do you want a design that is more complex or simple? Do you love the challenge of coloring into a thousand nooks and crannies? Or do you want to concentrate on your mindfulness while doing large plains of color? DO you have a goal to work on your shading technique?

Types of Japan Coloring Books

Japanese Traditional and Kimono Coloring books

Japanese Woodblock Print Coloring Books

Japanese Manga Coloring Books

Hopefully this guide has given you some good starting points for where to take the next step in your journey into the world of Japanese coloring books for grown ups. Please let me know in the comments if I’ve missed any of your favorites in the list!

Japanoscope is a registered affiliate with several online shops and may receive a commission when you click on some of the links within content.

Who is behind this site?

I’m Peter Joseph Head. I lived in Japan for four years as a student at Kyoto City University of the Arts doing a Masters Degree, have toured the country six times playing music and speak Japanese (JLPT N1). I’ve written songs in Japanese and have released several albums through Tokyo label Majikick Records.

ピータージョセフヘッドです。4年間京都市立芸大の大学院として日本に住み、6回日本で音楽ツアーをし、日本語能力試験で1級を取得しました。要するに日本好きです。

Leave a Reply