Seeing Tokyo on foot


"Tokyo on Foot,” published by Tuttle, has become a bestseller in English since it was published in July.

Florent Chavouet, a young graphic artist, spent six months exploring Tokyo. Each day he would set forth, with a pouch full of colored pencils and a sketchpad, to visit different neighborhoods.

This stunning book records the city that he 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, like a housewife walking her pet pig and a Godzilla statue in a local park.

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.

Price: 2,310 yen.

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I have a copy of this on my lap as I write. I like it a lot and would recommend it to anyone interested in a Tokyo-flavored experience in a book.

I tracked, via Google Street Views, a few places he has drawn. The reality is significantly more mundane than his skillfully drawn renderings, so an argument can be made that his book is preferable to the actual megalopolis.

I laughed out loud at some of his humor.

If I still lived in Tokyo I would probably snort and turn my head. Who needs to buy a book filled with the same images I constantly view just outside my eyelids? But I lived in Tokyo for 15 years and have been pretty much absent for 9 years. I get such a pleasant rush of nostalgia, or desire to track down something previously unknown from this excellent picture book.

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Very good effort. But with modern technology, aka 'the camera', it can be done much more efficiently and accurately. Of course the romantic image of a young white artist trekking into an otherwise non-touristy local area and setting up the easel to draw the scenery will be missing. His interpretation of a scene adds interest rather than just some photos which capture things as they are.

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To each his own.

As for me, the first thought that come to mind, is that the whole book is a piece of living art. Will make a good keepsake.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

As an artist myself, I really like this idea (have thought about doing something similar). I'll pick up a copy next time I get out to Kinokuniya!

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Zichi, some photographers can also be considered artists.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Zichi, we'll agree to disagree, then.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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