Cool Japan Guide: Fun in the Land of Manga, Lucky Cats, and Ramen by Abby Denson is a light read for anyone who wants a quick and easy intro to travel in Japan. It’s more readable than your run of the mill travel guides because it’s presented in a more narrative style. The book is basically a graphic novel compilation of the author’s travel experiences in Japan organize by travel tips, sights to see, and activities. It sprinkles in some mini-Japanese lessons here and there, which is pretty cool.
I personally enjoyed reading through it, as I just had a trip in Japan and also have traveled to the country throughout my life on various occasions, and I felt like I was reliving my vacation reading through it.
My main complaint would be that the art is done more kid-cartoonish to sort of fit that light and playful tone of the whole book. This may work for some people and makes the book more accessible to younger readers, but I would say the art was the aspect of the book that I didn’t really enjoy. I’m not an artist myself, so I’m speaking purely from a lay consumer’s perspective, but I especially cringed at the parts about the beauty of gardens, temples, tatami rooms, and events like hanami (cherry blossom viewing) that were portrayed with a kid-style drawing.
I’ll be putting this in my classroom library, and I think it would be a good way to inspire my students to document their trips and experiences, especially the ones who are artistically inclined.
Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of Cool Japan Guide for this review.