cover image Cool Japan Guide: Fun in the Land of Manga, Lucky Cats and Ramen

Cool Japan Guide: Fun in the Land of Manga, Lucky Cats and Ramen

Abby Denson. Tuttle, $14.95 trade paper (128p) ISBN 978-4-8053-1279-7

Comic book artist and food blogger Denson (Dolltopia) fills this hip and handy travel guide with her expertise as a frequent visitor to Japan and her bright and vibrant illustrations. The drawings feature the artist and her husband, their Japanese friend Yuuko, and Kitty Sweet Tooth (Denson’s cartoon-cat alter ego), who provides language lessons, including a pronunciation guide and common words and phrases. Denson outlines what to do ahead of time, such as purchasing discount transportation tickets and exchanging money, and offers space-saving packing tips. A quick rundown of the public transit system—the Narita Express—ensures you won’t look like a tourist, and an etiquette lesson explains traditions to observe when visiting a Japanese home. Food and drink topics range from the famously bizarre Japanese vending machines and intricate bento lunch boxes to conveyor-belt sushi and the more formal kaiseki meals of Kyoto. Manga fans will find plenty of activities, including comic conventions, the International Manga Museum, and bookstores with the widest selections. Further recreational recommendations include karaoke and nightlife spots, shrines and temples, arcades, and the eclectic maid (and butler) cafes. First-time visitors may want to seek out a more complete guidebook, but Denson’s artwork and perspective make for an entertaining supplement at the very least.[em] (Mar.) [/em]