Tokyo on Foot
This prize-winning book is both an illustrated tour of a Tokyo rarely seen in Japan travel guides and an artist’s warm, funny, visually rich, and always entertaining graphic memoir.
Florent Chavouet, a young graphic artist, spent six months exploring Tokyo while his girlfriend interned at a company there. Each day he would set forth with a pouch full of color pencils and a sketchpad, and visit different neighborhoods. This stunning book records the city that he got to know during his adventures. It isn’t the Tokyo of packaged tours and glossy guidebooks, but a grittier, vibrant place, full of ordinary people going about their daily lives and the scenes and activities that unfold on the streets of a bustling metropolis.
Here you find businessmen and businesswomen, hipsters, students, grandmothers, shopkeepers, police officers, and other urban types and tribes in all manner of dress and hairstyles. A temple nestles among skyscrapers; the corner grocery anchors a diverse assortment of dwellings, cafes, and shops-often tangled in electric lines.
The artist mixes styles and tags his pictures with wry comments and observations. Realistically rendered advertisements or posters of pop stars contrast with cartoon sketches of iconic objects or droll vignettes, like a housewife walking her pet pig, a Godzilla statue in a local park, and an urban fishing pond that charges 400 yen per half hour.
This very personal guide to Tokyo is organized by neighborhood with hand-drawn maps that provide an overview of each neighborhood, but what defines them is what caught the artist’s eye and attracted his formidable drawing talent. Florent Chavouet begins his introduction by observing that, “Tokyo is said to be the most beautiful of ugly cities.” With wit, a playful sense of humor, and the multicolor pencils of his kit, he sets aside the question of urban ugliness or beauty and captures the Japanese essence of a great city in this genuinely vital portrait.
"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 "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 "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 "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 "[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 guidebook. 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) "...whimsical and intriguing -- a way for readers themselves to get lost in the charming and mysterious enormity of Tokyo." --Asian Fortune News "...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
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