Customer Reviews: Tokyo on Foot: Travels in the City's Most Colorful Neighborhoods
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon June 17, 2011
This isn't the usual travel guide book that tells you where to go, it's one that Florent Chavouet drew to show you where he went. He's a French guy who's in Japan to accompany his girlfriend because she's working there.

It's a 208-page paperback filled with colour pencil drawn observations on the places he went. There are interesting notes on the people and culture and his many little adventures.

His beautiful colour pencil illustrations give Tokyo a very different look and feel. It's a light-hearted look at Tokyo as a tourist. I don't know if Tokyo is this colourful, but in the book it is.

The hand drawn maps are nicely drawn with icons and places of interest. On some pages, there are collages from things he collect, like cutout of manga panels and the bicycle parking tickets he got for parking in restricted areas.

It's an amusing book to check out.

(There are more pictures of the book on my blog. Just visit my Amazon profile for the link.)
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on August 29, 2013
I wish I could write two reviews - one for the Kindle version and one for the hard copy.

I initially purchased the kindle version of the book, and right off the bat I had difficulty reading it. This isn't really an e-book where you can control the size of the text to make words more legible. The kindle version is simply scanned images of the book's pages that have been sequenced together.

The scans themselves are small - the "native" scan size occupies half my iPad screen. So in order to read just about everything other than the intro (which is in a typewriter-style font), you have to pinch and zoom. Unfortunately, when you zoom in, you discover that the resolution of the scanned page is not very high, and therefore the text is pixilated. The text/notes within the sketches are hand-written (in some cases, cursive),and therefore the notes are quite difficult to read (and in a of couple cases for me, impossible to read. I don't understand why the scan resolution is so low - the hard copy is larger than the screen of my iPad.

In addition, since you need to zoom in, reading through the book is cumbersome: Zoom in, swipe page around the screen to see everything, zoom out, then move to the next page.

So I returned the kindle version and ordered a hard copy. As always, Amazon was outstanding with handling this.

The hard copy is FANTASTIC - I would give it five stars. It is something I would bring back from Japan as a souvenir if I found it in a Tokyo bookstore.

But I have to give the kindle version a one-star rating because of the low scan resolution and the cumbersome nature of reading the book.
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on January 7, 2012
I am an American that has lived in Tokyo for over 25 years now. And I have to say that I think this is possibly one of the best books ever written about my favourite city! Whether you are a wide-eyed tourist visiting for the first-time or a long term resident, you will be able to find in this book many of the things that make us all wonder at this city of contradictions. Indescribable, this book is part travel-log/part picture-book, and all fun. This is NOT a guidebook, but for the person who loves to just get lost in a city, it could be a wonderful guide. In any case, if you have ever been to Tokyo or desire to go, this is one book to have. Clever, funny, cute, and meaningful, I can't recommend Chavouet's first book enough! Bravo! Fantastic!!!
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VINE VOICEon December 2, 2012
I almost didn't pick up this book, with its dull "Tokyo on Foot" title ... which, in addition to being pretty generic, isn't even accurate--as we learn in several amusing anecdotes, this is actually "Tokyo on Bicycle"! However, the whimsical sketches on the front and back cover grabbed my attention, and as soon as I started flipping through the pages I was hooked. I lived in Japan for two years, one of them in Yokohama (so I am quite familiar with Tokyo), and this captured the experience of living in the Tokyo area perfectly: hunched over grannies, aggressive insects, old bicycles, expensive fruit, taxi drivers, police officers who seem to strive to be either your best friend or worst enemy, a mix of curiosity and suspicion toward the gaijin who actually are *living* in Japan as opposed to simply passing through as tourists, etc., etc. One of the only major omissions I can think of that a resident of Tokyo will notice is the absence of trains, subways, etc. (this is "Tokyo on Foot"/by bike, after all).

Note, however, that this is not really the "tourist's Tokyo". The fact that this book starts off in nondescript Machiya (an area of Tokyo warranting only a few scant sentences even in the Japanese language version of Wikipedia) should be a clue. If you pick up this book hoping to see sketches of Meiji Shrine, the Imperial Palace, or Asakusa's Sensoji Temple, you will be sorely disappointed. Likewise, this is not the traditional culture connoisseur or otaku's guide to Tokyo--no tea ceremonies or kimono, and anime/manga make only a brief appearance. As a result, while I think this book will be of interest to anyone with an interest in Japan, I think this will be of the most interest to people who have experience living in Japan, the Tokyo area in particular (although much will be familiar to people who lived in other parts of Japan, particularly the urban areas). The author shines in his attention to the little details and everyday events that combine to make up that sometimes-thrilling, sometimes-frustrating, never-boring experience that is living in Japan. For such people, this book is a 5-star experience--it will bring back vivid memories of your time living in Japan (and for the artistically inclined, it will likely leave you kicking yourself for not thinking of doing this book first!). For those who have been to Japan only on short trips as tourists, 4 stars: I'm sure this will still be enjoyable, although many of the details will go unappreciated. For everyone else, depending on your level of interest in Japan, this may or may not be of interest--flip through a few pages first, and I imagine you will either be hooked (if so, buy it!) or bored (if so, move on!).

Personally, for me as a former "gaijin-in-residence" and Japanophile longing for an opportunity to go back, I found this book to be delightful and I poured over the details and the maps as I reminisced about my days living in Japan. There are many books on Tokyo and Japan in general, but this is a truly unique and special work ... I am glad to have the chance to add it to my bookshelf, and am happy to recommend it to others.
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on June 23, 2011
TOKYO ON FOOT: TRAVELS IN THE CITY'S MOST COLORFUL NEIGHBORHOODS book by Florent Chavouet is a wonderful book filled with colored cartoon sketches that the artists drew when he was living in Tokyo.

Although this couldn't be considered a guide book by any means, it'll give some idea of what it's like to experience Tokyo as an outsider.

Chavouet's drawings are well done, especially the details on some of the buildings, and he painstakingly draws out maps for each section and even Japanese signage (including Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji writing) so readers get the full effect. I like that most of the drawings are cartoon-ish, but there are also some that are rendered with some realism -- mostly signs and packaging.

His comments that accompany the drawings are funny and after reading TOKYO ON FOOT..., I feel like I went on the trip with him.

The book isn't arranged like a comic where you read from one panel to the next, it's arranged by neighborhoods and filled with drawings of people, places and things, that Chavouet encountered in that location, and is more like a scrapbook.

I recommend this book to artists and people who love all things Japanese and Tokyo. It definitely has that "kawai" (cute) feel to it.
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on May 27, 2015
I really hesitated to give this only four stars. It's a great book. But the color reproduction seems off, at least in this English version. If you look at Florent's blog, you can see much better color reproduction. I understand that the color spaces are different on screen and in print, but that's really no excuse for the yellow hue that I'm seeing as I browse the book. Hopefully this can be remedied in future editions. And of course, this does not reflect on Florent's art, which is beautiful and fun to browse. I also don't envy whoever went through the whole book and did the English lettering, trying to match Florent's style, but I'm really grateful it's available in my language.
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on October 1, 2013
On a recent trip to Tokyo I was walking around the city in awe of the amazing architecture, surroundings, and people and couldn't get enough of all the details the city had to offer. I thought to myself, there has to be some kind of book that captures all these amazing details; but after rummaging through 3 books stores... nothing! Fortunately as I was walking through Narita airport to come back home I saw this book in a window and immediately knew it was exactly what I was looking for. The artist painstakingly captured the interiors of the houses he was staying in, the amazing buildings with all of their air conditioners, power cables and pipes haphazardly hanging from them, the district police stations, the colorful restaurants and coffee shops, the people, pretty much everything the city has to offer. My favorite part has to be the super detailed maps of each district which tell where each drawing was done. Everything, apart from the cool foreign fruit sticker collection, is all hand drawn with colored pencils and amazing to take in. If you are planning a trip to Tokyo, have been there and want a souvenir, or are an artist like myself and love detailed hand drawn books such as this, it is a must buy!
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on February 5, 2012
Japan is an oddity. It is only fitting that an oddity of a book be made about it. Tokyo on Foot, the graphic memoir, follows Florent Chavouet during his six-month stay in the Eastern Capital. Florent, a French illustrator, hand draws maps, people, and the events that surrounded him. Each page feels and looks like it was removed from a personal sketchbook and helps to create an intimate atmosphere. The narration is broken down into little paragraph that fill in the white space of the illustrations with such flare that even the most hardened graphic designer could appreciate it.
I have read this book at least three times, and each time I find something new about it that I love. There is so much going on in this book that you need to reread it, but it never becomes redundant. The book's illustrations fit perfectly with the narration and every page is bright, playful, and interesting. The hand-drawn maps, for me, are the pinnacle achievement. They assist in giving a strong personal touch to the book. Chavouet's art style for the book is a combination of classical with hints of modernism, much like the city of Tokyo. This book is a great addition to any library, especially for those who want to have fun while reading.

*Originally published for San Francisco/Sacramento Book Review*
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on April 19, 2014
I love this book! Fun notes and observations makes it feel like you're on the trip with chavouet. This book is a pictorial diary of the author's time roaming tokyo while his girlfriend got a job there for a few months. If you buy this book thinking it's a guide, you'll be sorely mistaken. The guy drew his observations and comments on his experience. The style is relatable, cartoon caricatures in color pencils. Fun look through and study of some smaller "everyday" neighborhoods most tourists overlook when they're there to see see see the sights! The artist also concentrated on the area of 1 train line which he frequent which is nice there's a concentration. Tokyo is huge, the author is neither an expert on japan nor claim this as a guide. It just a beautiful peek into his adventures and experiences while living abroad. The hardcopy is a nice book to have. To reminisce perhaps he capture your own thoughts in pictures so well or just to see what some things you might be overlooking if you're heading out there yourself. It's a great inspiration piece, too.

NOW FOR THE KINDLE EDITION: I wish I saw the review for the kindle edition sooner! It SUX! I have the
8.9 fire HDX and the pages are basically an image,, A LOW RESOLUTION at that, quality degrade blur and pixelated when I try to zoom in to read certain comments caption. I need to find out how to return this kindle version, sigh more work. Actually quite annoyed right now.
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on October 23, 2014
As an American that lived in Tokyo for a few years, I can vouch that this book is pretty accurate representation of the city. Chavouet provides a very entertaining travel log of his time in the city with vivid illustrations and descriptions. Hand drawn maps and little excerpts take the reader on a fun and genuine experience.

Tourists or those who have lived in Tokyo will enjoy the clever commentary, appreciate the odd societal contradictions, and smile at the traditions that are very much a part of life over there. Every time my girlfriend and I look at this book, we get a sense of nostalgia and can recall times where we had similar experiences. The book evokes a sense of wandering, getting lost, and discovering the wonders of a new city.
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