I’ve missed Japan a lot these past few years but at least there are still lots of new Japan books to read. I’ve got 2 to review today – a creative guide book and a cute comic book.
Hello Sandwich Japan by Ebony Bizys (QUBM4)
Hello Sandwich was one of the first Japan blogs I remember following, run by Tokyo-based Australian artist/designer Ebony. It was always a great resource for cute crafts & design and quirky shops & cafes and Hello Sandwich Japan brings all that together into a really beautiful guide book. I love the pink sprayed edges and the holographic foil on the cover.
It’s a brave move releasing a guide book during a pandemic when Japan trips are on hold but it’s also nice just to dip into and enjoy the photos and personal anecdotes. In fact, it sits a bit oddly between the two uses – it’s too big and heavy to bring along as a reference but includes a lot of information about opening times, useful phrases etc. that feels like wasted space for an aspirational travel book.
Overall, this is a personal guide that matches Ebony’s interests, which include art, design, fashion, food and nightlife. There’s a definite niche to the places included that won’t appeal to everyone – or fit all budgets – but if you have similar interests and want to feel more like a local rather than hit all the usual spots, this is full of ideas and hidden gems.
Usually design-led guides only cover Tokyo, or the main cities, so it’s great to see a range of places to visit across Japan and I’ll definitely be bookmarking a few places for future visits. This is a beautiful book that would make a lovely gift for any Japan fan (I was certainly pleased to receive as a Christmas gift from my mum!). Buy now on Amazon (UK/US).
Uniquely Japan by Abby Denson (Tuttle)
Comic artist Abby has previously published comic book-style guides to Tokyo & Japan and now she’s sharing her favourite things in Uniquely Japan. It’s a fairly comprehensive illustrated guide to Japanese life and culture including seasons, arts & crafts, fashion, food and everyday cuteness.
This would be a great introduction for anyone planning their first trip and especially for younger readers so they can look out for things when they visit – or when they’re watching anime! The sections on shrines, creatures and signs would be especially helpful to avoid awkward situations and when you’re wondering what on earth is going on here.
If you’re a seasoned Japan traveler then you may not learn a lot but it’s still a fun quick read with a lot of personality. Pre-order now (or Amazon UK/US) for delivery on April 5th. You can also read an interview with Abby about making this book.
(I received a digital review copy of Uniquely Japan from Tuttle but all words and opinions are my own.)
Marceline is the co-founder and editor of Super Cute Kawaii and author of The Super Cute Book of Kawaii. She also designs cute character goods as Asking For Trouble. Having visited Japan five times, Marceline is enormously inspired by all things Japanese and especially loves bunnies, space and any kind of food object with a happy face.