Books on Japan: Tokyo Books
Books on Tokyo
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JapanVisitor has the largest collection of independent reviews of Japan-related books on the Internet: travel guides, Japanese fiction and fiction with a Japan setting, books on Japanese history, Japanese politics and society, Japanese food and cuisine, books on learning the Japanese language, books on Japanese art, design and photography, the nature and environment of Japan as well as books covering manga, anime and music. If you wish to have a title reviewed on JapanVisitor.com please see the contact details at the bottom of this page.
Tokyo City Atlas: A Bilingual Guide
The foolhardy traveller who decides to venture beyond the usual tourist spots in Tokyo must first brave the tangled serpents of the subway system, and then solve the riddle of the Signless Streets and Anonymous Alleyways.
Lonely Planet Tokyo
Lonely Planet's main Japan guide runs to nearly 800 pages so if your visit is confined to the capital and its environs Lonely Planet Tokyo makes for a lighter alternative for the rucksack. The maps (including color versions) and the photographs are a marked upgrade from previous editions and the Japanese place-names and language section are a boon for linguistically-challenged visitors and residents alike.
Best of Tokyo
Tokyo is an intense city. It is Los Angeles in scale, New York in population density. It is a sprawling, messy city that also happens to be a total blast.
If you know where to go, what to do, how to get around. Tokyo is still the hippest city in Asia, despite competition from Beijing, Shanghai and Bangkok, a techno-consumer paradise of music, manga, fashion and food.
Tokyo, the City at a Glance (Wallpaper City Guide Tokyo
The Wallpaper City Guide Tokyo at a Glance may offer a glance, but what a tantalizing one! The easy-access thumbtabbing of this almost pocket-sized 103-page guide makes for instant delving into the finer, and finer aspects, of Tokyo's landmarks, hotels, 24-hour facilities, urban life, architecture, shopping, sports, and escapes (i.e. within an hour or so of Tokyo, including Naoshima Island). It maintains a balance of concise text and tasteful, professional photography, letting the pictures speak at least as loudly and eloquently as the words.
Subway Guide to Tokyo
The prolific author of various handbooks for East Asia, Boy Lafayette De Menthe, has produced another, the Subway Guide to Tokyo. The subtitle modestly states: 'Take the right line, get off at the right station, and find the best exit!'. However, there is a lot more to this attractively designed, 160-page resource than that.
Lonely Planet has just published a Tokyo guide that isn't for the backpacker. Tokyo Encounter, gives the young tourist with time and money to spend a concise, intelligent, colorful, and easily searchable bird's eye view of the city in a glossy, pocket-sized 200 pages.
Tokyo Realtime: Akihabara
by Patrick W. Galbraith, Max Hodges
ISBN-10: 097486949X, ISBN-13: 978-0974869490
Akihabara is renowned as an area of Tokyo representing the apex of Japanese electronics technology and the nadir of the nation's social adjustedness. It is equally chockablock with stores selling computer parts and appliances/equipment for the home as it is with stores catering to quirky - and usually solitary, i.e. otaku - tastes in reading manga, videogaming, costumed entertainment, and more. Such is its scale and depth that "you could write a book about it," or, better still for the tourist, an audio guide.
Patrick W. Galbraith is an author on and researcher of otaku culture, based at Tokyo University, and has made Tokyo Realtime: Akihabara, an audio guide to be listened to as you follow a map and verbal directions through Akihabara.
This reviewer had been through Akihabara numerous times before trying this guide, but was surprised to find a new dimension to the area thanks to it. By "simply" directing you up certain stairs and down certain streets, and informing you by way of various types of narratives about the venues, you are made quickly and memorably aware not only of the existence but the cultural and historical significance of the dozen or so places you visit and, of course, Akihabara in general.
Thanks to Tokyo Realtime: Akihabara, I now know why Akihabara is nearly all male nerds, and in which part of Tokyo the female nerds hang out. I now also know where I can buy vintage PacMan, dolls that cost half a million yen, and have a Cinderella lookalike blow on my hot coffee and coo in my ear - or twist it.
The soundtrack features Galbraith, sounding much more connected and boy-next-door than the rough-trade nutcase photo of him would have you imagine, and with multiple sub-narrators, including researchers on and denizens of Akihabara adding their enlightening perspectives while you browse, or walk between, venues. The tour takes an hour.
Tokyo Realtime: Akihabara is very professionally and glossily produced and packaged, complete with full-color booklet with photos of tour spots. However, it lacks instructions about how to import the audio to your device (not iTunes-friendly - has to be manually dragged).
All up, an eye-opening, informative and titillating tour guide to enjoy exploring to, and keep as a stylish memento of your Akihabara experience.
Tokyo Pub Crawler
Where to begin? Within the Tokyo metro area, there are at least 10 major nightlife areas. Within each of these, 100s - in Shinjuku, perhaps 1000s - of bars await the overwhelmed but expectant tippler. In traditional media outlets, one is assaulted with ads. In Tokyo Pub Crawler, one gets the real deal from a female and male perspective.
In Tokyo Underworld (the Fast Times and Hard Life of an American Gangster in Japan), the author of You Gotta Have Wa follows the life of criminal mastermind Nick Zappetti, and in the process shows a postwar Japan struggling to rebuild and redefine itself.
As a street smart East Harlem native with a sharp eye for an easy buck, Zappetti finds plenty of opportunity in occupied Japan - from selling U.S. inventory on the black market to taking dives as a "professional" wrestler and opening Japan's first pizza joint.
The "king of Roppongi and mafia boss of Tokyo" is by no means an admirable character, but his exploits serve as a sensational vehicle for Whiting's well-researched investigation of the deep-seeded and all pervasive nature of Japan's criminal syndicate, from small time racketeers to international industrial espionage.
Proving that real life is stranger than fiction, and just as exciting, Tokyo Underworld reads like a James Bond thriller and reveals the seamy underbelly of Japan that has long been kept behind the shoji.
Tokyo Rising - The City since the Great Earthquake
Translator and Japan scholar Edward Seidensticker's Tokyo Rising continues the series begun with Tokyo: Low City, High City. Beginning with the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923, Seidensticker documents the relative freedom of the Taisho Period, the onset of imperialism in the 1930s, the disasters of World War II with the war in China and the Pacific, the US Occupation, the extraordinary economic growth of the 1950s and 1960s, up until the late 1980s and the "Bubble Economy", and what these periods meant to and for Tokyo.
Originally published in Japanese in 1982, Naito's book attempts to outline the early rise of Edo, from 1603-1867, the period when the city served as the capital of the Shogun. These were the military leaders who in theory served the Emperor in Kyoto, but who in practice ran the country. This period gave birth to much of what is now considered to be the core of Japanese culture: kabuki, ukiyoe, geisha, sumo, and the haiku poets. When Japan was finally forced to open to the outside world by Admiral Perry and his Black ships, at the very end of the book, Tokyo was the largest city in the world.
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