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Tokyo on Foot: Travels in the City's Most Colorful Neighborhoods Paperback – June 10, 2011
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"This stunning book records the city that [Florent Chavouet] got to know during his adventures, a gritty, vibrant place, full of ordinary people going about their daily lives. Realistically rendered city views or posters of pop stars contrast with cartoon sketches of iconic objects or droll vignettes…With wit, a playful sense of humor, and the colored pencils of his kit, Chavouet sets aside the question of urban ugliness or beauty and captures the Japanese essence of a great city." —Japan Today
"His drawings are so wonderfully idiosyncratic and so beautifully detailed that what must have been a labor of love for him is no less a labor of delightful artistic genius." —Publishers Weekly starred review
"[Tokyo on Foot] will make readers with wanderlust wish to drop their everyday responsibilities and trek through a foreign city. It will appeal to the armchair traveler who yearns for a bit of the exotic, the wanderer who wants to someday visit the Land of the Rising Sun, and, indeed, anyone who appreciates the marriage of grit and beauty, self-deprecating wit, and losing oneself in good pictures for a while." —ForeWord Reviews
"From what Chavouet saw, did, ate—bugs, festivals, storefronts, a fake French mansion, random drinks and snacks—his illustrations catch perfect little details you'll never find in any guide book. His myriad of people caught in the midst of their everyday lives are undoubtedly the book's highlight. […] By the time he's back in his native France, he's got an award-winning, fascinating book that surely makes for ideal reading for both armchair tourists and peripatetic travelers alike." —Book Dragon (Smithsonian Institute)
"The book captures the feel and spirit of the Japanese metropolis in comical sketches, sparse writings and whimsical, hand-drawn city maps. The book is a diary of Chavouet's six months in Tokyo. And, it's worth the money, at least for people who can appreciate Chavouet's observations on life in Japan and who can enjoy his artwork, which is intriguing, if somewhat reminiscent of classic Mad Magazine drawings. Chavouet depicts the everyday sights of Tokyo—much of which are universal sights in homogeneous Japan—in a way that's so detailed that you feel as if you can walk into the pages. It's almost like the feeling you get when you see one of those picture-perfect towns made of Legos. "—About.com
"…as for Chavouet—colorful, farcical, artistically superior Chavouet—his way of seeing Japan is insightful and entertaining for over two hundred pages. The execution is confident—a positive side-effect of it having no agenda but to represent his individual experience." —Axiom Magazine
"This is the first book by Mr. Chavouet in which he chronicled his adventures in Japan with his gorgeous hand-drawn pictures and in writing. […] This book can be enjoyed by anyone who is interested in Japan, especially Tokyo. As well as those who like quality drawings of people in their daily lives." —Tokyo Five blog
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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.)
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.
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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It's fun to roam through to enhance your trip's memories, especially if you enjoyed to...Read more