This unique presentation of one foreigner’s exploration of the world’s largest city over six months was never intended to be a guidebook: no star ratings for luxe hotels or interviews with celebrity chefs here - and wasn’t supposed to be a social commentary: don’t look here for studies on gender roles or the Occupy Movement. But a guidebook (of sorts) is what this simple artist’s sketchbook has become; one filled with the (usually humorous) views and comments about everyday life and ordinary buildings around the various districts of central Tokyo.
Florent’s district maps may be easier to use than the ones in the Frommer’s guidebook - and clearly show the most important places for family travelers, like good supermarkets and convenience stores and coffee shops; the photogenic spots and nice parks and walking-path shortcuts.
Tokyo is not called a beautiful city (except perhaps at night, from a high building, when you can soak in the lights) - but Florent’s colored-pencil sketches give individual personality to even the most ordinary row house or storefront. And his cartoon drawings of shopkeepers, commuters, students, and local police - while, well, simple cartoons, still move past stereotypes and cliches to reveal humanity and show you details you might not ordinarily notice from the tour bus or running through the airport. (Mr. Chavouet’s blog - in French - continues his studies.)
When our family travels we like to use public transport and walk around, eat simply and try to experience parts of everyday life in the cities we visit. The flowers poking up in an alleyway are no less beautiful than the ones in the Imperial gardens, after all. This book brings back nostalgia we have for our time in Japan - and gives us ideas for our next trip.
Whether you’ve been to Tokyo already or are looking for ideas for a future stopover trip, this book lovingly shows the real side of the city, and is great entertainment.
Standard blogging disclosure: this book was paid for with our own funds.