Being back in a cold and rainy climate reminds me of Tokyo. No, seriously. Washington has four seasons, just like Tokyo did, and just like Hawaii didn’t. I suppose that’s what has been making me feel really nostalgic these days. I’m in a place with the weather of Japan, but way less awesome.
I have seriously owned around seventeen kajillion books about Japan in my lifetime, and I’ve given away, donated, or sold back almost the same amount. Some of them I bought, some of them were given to me, and I even found one or two. But the thing is that I have moved so many times that the only ones I’ve kept are those that I absolutely, positively, do not want to live without. (Well, maybe I could live without them, but then would I really be living?)
Anyays! Right now, I only own three books in English about Japan, and these are them, and here is why I really like them:
Disclaimer: A friend of mine wrote this, but that’s not why I’m recommending it. Pat has written a bunch of books and papers, and they’re all great, but this is the one that I wish that every single otaku in the world could have.
What is it? It’s seriously a dictionary, but not the kind of dictionary that we used when I was a little kid to look up stuff for our school essays. I never had a dictionary like this.
You probably know what Hatsune Miku is, but do you know what a Heta-uma is? How about a kuchi-paku? Guess where you can find all of that information that you didn’t know that you needed to have? In this freaking book. I know a fair amount about Otaku culture. I lived and breathed it in Japan for almost a whole decade. But I didn’t know half of the stuff that Patrick wrote about in his book, and that’s why you need it. Plus, it’s got a lot of color, a cute mascot, and some really cool exclusive interviews. You can even learn about Tenimyu!
I saw this book in the book store in Japan, even though it’s written in English. Maybe that’s because although there is a story in it, it’s mostly drawings and you don’t need to be able to read to get the gist of it. It was written/drawn by an artist that came to stay in Tokyo while his girlfriend was there for an internship. He spent almost every day of his six months there wandering the city with colored pencils and a pad of paper and drawing what he saw.
Not only are his drawings aces, I absolutely love his little comments about places and people and things. Right after I bought this book (years ago), I was so enamored that I tried emulating his style with less than stellar results. Me and colored pencils don’t mix, which kind of makes this book even more cool (somehow)!
Part of the reason that I really enjoyed this book was because it made me nostalgic for my own first days in Tokyo. I remembered thinking a lot of the same things. I just wish that I’d been good with colored pencils (and had enough confidence to write a book). You can read about my first year here on my blog, though!
Honestly, I don’t think that this book is as much a must-have for otaku as the other two, but if art and impressions of Japan is your thing, I think you will love it as much as I do. I seriously only brought two English-language books back with me when I moved out of Japan, and this was one. The other was an ancient copy of The Mysterious Island that my father got when he was a kid and passed on to me.
Aaaaalright. I was really, really skeptical about this one. I’ve seen a hundred other “guides to Tokyo” for otaku, but I didn’t keep any of them.
This one, though? I am not only keeping it forever, I am going to give a copy to any of my friends traveling to Japan on their own to go otaku-shopping. Holy cow, I wish this book had existed when I first moved to Japan, because it covers things that it took me years of living there to find on my own!
It’s a bona-fide travel guide, minus all of the generic stuff that you can find in a normal travel guide. It doesn’t focus on hotels or nice restaurants. Instead, it lists maid cafes, anime shops, and AWESOME stuff like Swallowtail (don’t know what that is? You need to get this book and find out because it is awesome!). The book is split into districts of Tokyo, and lists otaku-related info about each area along with detailed maps and how to get to all of these places.
It’s kind of big and heavy for a travel guide, but it’s seriously the only one that I’m interested in having with me next time that I travel to Tokyo. There are places in it that I haven’t even been to. Oh, and bonus? There is a whole section in the latter part of the book talking about Geeky festivals like Comicket and JUMP Festa. I REALLY, REALLY WISH THAT THIS HAD BEEN AROUND WHEN I MOVED TO JAPAN. It’s 14 years too late for that, but not too late for my next trip, and not too late for yours!
It’s also in full color. If you’re reading this, I think that you will probably want this book. GO BUY IT.
This has absolutely NOT been a paid advertisement. I am just a geeky girl honestly recommending things that she likes to you that she thinks you need. :3 See you again soon la la la!