An illustrative guide to Japan

Cool Tokyo Guide: Adventures in the City of Kawaii Fashion, Train Sushi and Godzilla

Cool Tokyo Guide: Adventures in the City of Kawaii Fashion, Train Sushi and Godzilla
By Abby Denson (North Clarendon, Vt.: Tuttle Publishing, 2018, 128pp., $14.99, paperback)

Those prone to wanderlust beware: Comic book writer Abby Denson’s illustrated handbooks to Japan will have you looking up flights to Tokyo before you’re even finished reading. In “Cool Tokyo Guide,” Denson pairs simple, playful illustrations with hundreds of helpful tips for new visitors to the country, all based on the self-professed Japanophile’s own travels.

The book takes readers through some of the minutiae that Lonely Planet and Fodor’s might skip over. Much of the book’s charm also comes from the infusion of the author’s personality. The illustrations serve as something of a travelogue, with Denson drawing from memories of her own experience as a newbie to Japan.

“Cool Tokyo Guide,” Denson’s 2018 follow-up to “Cool Japan Guide” (2015), might be considered more of an update than a companion guide. Despite their slightly different themes, the two volumes cover much of the same ground.

“Cool Tokyo Guide” includes many useful details that its predecessor doesn’t. In the chapter “Culture Shock Funnies,” Denson covers tipping (don’t do it), dressing rooms (shoes off!), and how to handle Japan’s dearth of garbage cans. As a fan of anime and manga, she also writes about niche Tokyo attractions like comic book markets and conventions Comiket and Comitia, the Ghibli Museum, and an amusement park based on Shonen Jump manga characters.

Whether seeking practical advice for an upcoming trip or just curious about all that Japan has to offer, Denson’s guides are worth a spot on your shelf.

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