The merit of a travel book is in more than expert reviews: It needs to provide an aesthetic value and be an entertaining read, all the more so in a world of Tripadvisor and countless other review sites. Tokyo: Day By Day, a calendar-based work released by VIZ Media, is an ideal travel companion for 2020, one that will encourage you to visit Tokyo (perhaps in time for the postponed Summer Olympic Games!) and provide necessary information to get you started. But even if you don’t go, it’s a wonderful piece to have around your home, a reminder of why we’re all so enchanted with Japanese culture, and particularly with the megalopolis of Tokyo.
The travel guide doesn’t feature reviews; instead, Tokyo Day By Day, which VIZ is calling “Instagrammable,” is more about offering engaging photos, quips, and fun descriptions along with the necessary information about different sites. This is a smart move. As one who is planning a visit to Tokyo myself, I hadn’t planned to use a physical guide—after all, online ones provide multiple points of view, updated information, and a better transaction price (free). But Tokyo Day By Day offers content arranged and developed in a manner not easily accessible through web searches, including little known locales, an emphasis on cultural and recreational sites above more easily found places, like restaurants and historic buildings (though the latter is still plentiful in the book), and a calendar arrangement, which helps visitors go the proper sites at the proper times. I anticipate that those already familiar with Tokyo will find this guide helpful in addition to first-time visitors.
But there’s plenty here even for those not planning to visit any time soon. Translated from its original version, Tokyo Day By Day retains an energetic feel and a Japanese point of view. Thus, reading through the book isn’t just an educational experience; it’s an entertaining one. There’s a charm and whimsy to many of the summaries and to the frequent asides in the book, accompanying an originality to the photo work. I mentioned Instagram earlier, and indeed, flipping through the book feels like swiping through the posts of a travel influencer: lovely photo followed by a fun caption, interesting bulleted information, and important site info. I would definitely follow!
But if 365 days worth of Tokyo sounds like a lot, that’s because it is. There are a few pages at which I rolled my eyes (A trampoline gym? No thanks, I already have four within five miles of my house in Texas.), and a several authentically American sites that, as an American traveler, I would have no interest in seeing. But those less engaging pages are few and far between. More usual are captivating entries like a hedgehog cafe (cute!) and getaways with thrilling views. You get the feeling that with this work as your guide, you’ll fill in those spaces between mostly touristy destinations with ones that will ultimately make your trip memorable, in the places you otherwise would never have known to look. And for a travel book that might seem like it’s only about the feels, there’s value there that’s worth its price in yen.