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Synopsis

Here you find business men and women, hipsters, students, grandmothers, shopkeepers, policemen, and other urban types and tribes in all manner of dress and hairstyles.

A temple nestles among skyscrapers; the corner grocery anchors a diverse assortment of dwellings, cafes, and shops—often tangled in electric lines. The artist, Florent Chavouet, mixes styles and tags his pictures with wry comments and observations. Realistically rendered advertisements or posters of pop stars contrast with cartoon sketches of iconic objects or droll vignettes, like a housewife walking her pet pig, a Godzilla statue in a local park, and an urban fishing pond that charges 400 yen per half hour.

This very personal guide to Tokyo is organized by neighborhood with hand-drawn maps that provide an overview of each neighborhood, but what really defines them is what caught the artist's eye and attracted his formidable drawing talent. Florent Chavouet begins his introduction by observing that, "Tokyo is said to be the most beautiful of ugly cities." With wit, a playful sense of humor, and the multicolor pencils of his kit, he sets aside the question of urban ugliness or beauty and captures the Japanese essence of a great city in this truly vital portrait.

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