Tokyo on Foot: Travels in the City’s Most Colorful Neighborhoods is an award-winning book which is an illustrated tour of Tokyo that you will not easily see in travel guides about Japan. In addition it is a memoir of the writer from France. But is it a good book to use for your upcoming trip to Tokyo?
Florent Chavouet is a graphic artist and you can’t ignore that in this book, he has put a lot of time into the drawings so that you can recognise the type of people, but also the environment. A feast of recognition for the travellers who have been to Tokyo. The book contains stories – as you would expect with a memoir – from the writer, which are sometimes quite funny. But the book mainly contains illustrations from Tokyo. It starts with a map as an introduction followed by drawings of people who have been noticed by Florent Chavouet in that area, as well as short anecdotes and informative interludes. During the time of his stay, the artist experienced a lot, which he drew nicely under the guidance of some text. Despite the fact that the book was made in 2006, the book is not that outdated and reflects how the Frenchman experienced Tokyo in the short period that he lived and worked there. Many comments that were made, for example, that fruit and vegetables were quite pricey, will be confirmed by many who have been in Japan. Not all places in Tokyo are covered in this book, but a very large part!
The drawings were made after observing the environment where Florent Chavouet was at the time of drawing, you can see that especially in the drawings of the people the artist encountered during his stay in Tokyo. The book really reminds me of a sketchbook or a dummy of creative people who stuff it with inspiring quotes, drawings, doodles, sketches and interesting articles.
It is a pity that Tokyo on Foot originally did not have a hardcover, because it can best serve as a coffee table book because of the beautiful drawings that you can find in it, although most coffee table books are rather photo books. Alternating with this book would certainly not be a problem! The book is very suitable for flipping through books, since each neighbourhood is drawn separately with a map and references to detailed drawings of buildings. It often gives you enough information about a certain place, so you want to note that as an opportunity to visit if you are in Tokyo (again). But for those who have been to Tokyo and want to explain something, this book can serve as a great starting point for conversations.
It is not a book that you take with you if you want to walk through Tokyo on foot, the book is too big and too heavy for that. But it’s a great book to get inspiration from or to recall memories after your vacation in Tokyo (or as part of your vacation in Japan). I find it impressive that this is the first book by the Frenchman, the illustrations are very nice and detailed put together and certainly recognisable for those who are interested in Japan or who have been to Tokyo. The book is a nice and inspiring reference work that ensures you that you want to go (back) to Tokyo as quickly as possible.