“Diary of a Tokyo Teen: A Japanese-American Girl Travels to the Land of Trendy Fashion, High-Tech Toilets and Maid Cafes” by Christine Mari Inzer (2016)
Genre: Graphic Novels, Non-fiction, Travel, Memoir
Page Length: 127 pages (paperback edition)
Born in Tokyo to a Japanese mother and an American father in 1997, Christine Mari Inzer spent her early years in Japan and relocated to the United States in 2003. The summer before she turned sixteen, she returned to Tokyo, making a solo journey to get reacquainted with her birthplace. Through illustrations, photos, and musings, Inzer documented her journey.
In Diary of a Tokyo Teen, Inzer explores the cutting-edge fashions of Tokyo’s trendy Harajuku district, eats the best sushi of her life at the renowned Tsukiji fish market, and hunts down geisha in the ancient city of Kyoto. As she shares the trials and pleasures of travel from one end of a trip to the other, Inzer introduces the host of interesting characters she meets and offers a unique—and often hilarious—look at a fascinating country and an engaging tale of one girl rediscovering her roots. (description from Goodreads)
Diary of a Tokyo Teen follows a Japanese-American girl’s summer trip to Japan. The book is reflection of her second trip to her native homeland since her childhood, and during her stories she talks about seeing Japan through her teenage eyes.
The book doesn’t really have a fluid plot, but serves as a collection of diary entry snippets of Christine’s trip. Each section is set up by the timeline of her summer trip and focuses on different locations within the country. The illustration style by Inzer is cute and sometimes funny. Though she experiences culture shock from some of the differences between Japan and the US she says that she could find a home in both countries.
I enjoyed her entertaining tales of the overabundance of maid cafes in Akihabara, trying to meditate in Kyoto’s famous rock garden at Ryōan-ji temple, navigating technological toilets, and surveying all of the delicious food that Japan has to offer. Christine’s travel stories are told in a casual and candid tone making a fun rather than serious travel book. Anybody who has ever traveled to foreign country or unfamiliar places I can definitely relate to her story. As for myself, whether it’s traveling within the US or overseas I’ve has so experiences while traveling. If its international travel, I’ve sometimes dealt with some language barriers or have worried about cultural differences (eg. customs). Even within the US, I’ve been in sticky situations especially when it comes to navigating big cities (because I am horrible at reading any type of map).
Though this book is aimed at a younger audience, it is still an entertaining read for readers of all ages. What stands out to me (while reading this book) among other travel memoir books is that its graphic novel format makes it unique. Reading this book made me want to instantly travel to Japan and see what it has to offer, even though I’ve been interested in traveling for many years. This book will definitely spark the travel bug within you and I like that gives a well-rounded view of some of variety of places, food, historical icons located in Japan.