Is This TikTok Artist Really ‘Bob Ross of Japan’? See the Gentle Watercoloring Videos That Made Harumichi Shibasaki an Unlikely Star

The Japanese social-media sensation has also recently started to harvest vegetables for his followers.

Screenshot of "Watercolor by Shibasaki" courtesy of YouTube.

Move over Bob Ross, there’s a new lovable painting teacher taking the Internet by storm. A white-haired Japanese man named Harumichi Shibasaki has taken social media by storm with a series of low-key how-to art videos featuring a variety of materials including colored pencils, crayons, and watercolors.

Like his bushy haired American predecessor, Shibasaki is intent on helping viewers find the joy in painting, which he describes as “soothing” on his internet channel. Shibasaki has been slowly and steadily building his audience for some time, reports Japan’s The Mainichibut he has accumulated millions of page views in recent weeks.

On YouTube, his most popular video is “5min Easy Watercolor: Tree Painting Tutorial,” where he, as the title suggests, conjures a tree in five minutes in watercolor. The combination of his gentle voice and the low-key music behind it makes for a restful watch.

For some time, most of the people watching Shibasaki’s videos were from a demographic similar to the 73-year-old artist. It was only after he emerged on TikTok that a much broader audience looking for quarantine activities found him, and his popularity skyrocketed. Since realizing his international appeal, Shibasaki has brought on a translator to help get the word out to English-speaking viewers.

Shibasaki, who appears to be just as endearing in person as on screen, has been painting for decades. He graduated from the Department of Art at Wako University, and taught painting for years afterward. The artist also shows his work annually at the Ginza shopping district.

“There’s a saying that art is long and life is short,” Shibasaki told The Mainichi, “I’m happy as my motto is to enjoy drawing, to provide easy to understand [instructions], and to work with everyone.”

In recent months, Shibasaki has also begun to branch out. In videos like “Grandpa’s Daily Life: Harvesting Wild Vegetables” and “Grandpa’s Daily Life: Bamboo Shoot Digging,” Shibasaki shows himself digging up produce from his garden and then making himself food.


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