Cool Japan Guide
Fun in the Land of Manga, Lucky Cats, and Ramen — A Comic Book Writer’s Personal Tour of Japan
It’s tricky to figure out what to call Cool Japan Guide — it combines aspects of a travelogue, an advice book, an autobiography, and a journal/diary comic. Regardless, it’s a great read for anyone who’s intrigued by the place that the manga comes from or who dreams of visiting Japan.
Abby Denson (Dolltopia) frequently visits the country, and she wants to share everything she enjoys about it, accompanied by her husband Matt, with us. Her simplified, sketchbook-like style is well-suited to this kind of project. It’s approachable and friendly, immediately welcoming.
There’s plenty of usable advice, including lists of website references, but it’s just as much fun for someone (like me) who isn’t planning on traveling soon. Cool Japan Guide feels like being there, assisted by a knowledgeable friend. The chapters cover
- Preparing for travel — documents, choosing a time to go, packing
- Getting around — navigating train stations (and snacks you find there)
- Food! — at convenience stores, shrines, and restaurants, including sushi, ramen, and okonomiyaki
- Where to stay — visiting a Japanese home or a hotel room
- Things to do — hot springs, comic festivals, parks, karaoke, and much more
- Things to see — more shrines and temples, plus museums
- Shopping! — on a budget
- Fan interests — video games and maid cafes
Between each is a page with Kitty Sweet Tooth, a humanoid cat, assembling a short list of new vocabulary words.
Cool Japan Guide is necessarily a brief overview from a personal approach, but that’s what makes it charming. I found it a wonderful companion for a manga reader to get a US visitor’s perspective on the many activities and places they’ll have seen in stories. (The publisher provided a digital review copy.)