Review: Tokyo on Foot: Travels in the City’s Most Colorful Neighborhoods

Tokyo on Foot: Travels in the City's Most Colorful Neighborhoods
Tokyo on Foot: Travels in the City’s Most Colorful Neighborhoods by Florent Chavouet
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book called out to me the moment I saw it in the book store. There are numerous books which try to capture the feelings one has when visiting Japan for the first time. Few do it as well as this brightly colored graphic memoir. It is important to note that this is not a sociological study of the Japanese people. The author is not trying to uncover the soul of the Japanese salaryman or revel the Zen of riding the Yamanote Line at rush hour. There are more qualified authors that have tried their hands at such subjects. This is purely an impression of Tokyo, by a sketch artists who had time to kill in various locations throughout the city.

Even as a resident of Japan (2 1/2 years at writing), picking up a book like this can be very refreshing. True, there are many factual errors, and rightly so as the author is not an investigative journalist and was not even employed within Japan when he made his sketches. One wouldn’t expect him to have any great insights into the workings of Japanese society. But if you ever came to Japan for a period of time to just explore, I think many of his observations will strike a chord. If your planning a trip in the future, this could serve as a decent imagery primer before you hit overload at the Shinjuku East Exit.

There is a lot to look at. You can blow through the book in a day or spend an evening looking at one page. It might even encourage you to take up sketching yourself, or at the least teach yourself to be more immersed in your surroundings, whether you plan to stay in a place for a long time or are just passing through. If you enjoyed the movie Lost in Translation, then this book will most likely appeal to you in the same way.

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