Thursday, December 12, 2013

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

A couple weeks ago I found myself in Barnes and Nobel book store with a bunch of time to kill. It was at that point that I realized I hadn't casually browsed a bookstore in months, if not years. I leisurely moved from section to section, with no particular goal in mind. And when I got to the Internal Travel section I decided to give a little extra attention to Japan, as that's a place on our short list of next places to visit. And so I discovered Tokyo on Foot: Travels in the City's Most Colorful Neighborhoods.

While the name may sound like a traditional guidebook, it's actually far from that. The book contains various drawings the author created while on a 6 month stay in Tokyo. It follows the Urban Sketching philosophy of drawing; one that I truly enjoy. The text that accompanies the art is witty and informative. It's a book I immediately decided I wanted to read. Unfortunately, our library didn't have it, so buying it was my best option. When I received a gift certificate to B&N a week later, I knew exactly how I was going to spend it.

I've now been through the book completely, and it's really wonderful. The art didn't disappoint, and like I said, the text is quite clever and makes for a fun read. The book contains a number of hand drawn maps, which I can't begin to imagine how much effort they took to create. If we do visit Tokyo, my plan is to re-read the book and see if I can get some suggestions about places to see or things to do. With that said, I'll be sticking to a classic Frommer's Guide when it comes to actually planning and executing our trip, as this book is more memoir than guide.

Another reason I so enjoyed the book is that I strive to follow the same path the author took, when I travel. I love how he embraces not just well known sites, but finds beautiful and novel things throughout the city. And I love that rather than taking on some mindless job while he was there, he pursued his passion for drawing and turned it into something quite substantial. I doubt I'll ever pull that off, but I applaud his effort and was glad to send a few bucks his way by purchasing the book.

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