Japan in your pocket

Back in September we were in one of the Kyoto’s coffee shops which had a great selections of books, photo albums and guide books all about Kyoto. I browsed through a few of them until I came across a small illustrated book called: ‘Must see in Kyoto’. I was immediately hooked. After we enquired we were told that they didn’t sell it in their shop but that we could find it at a bookshop in Kyoto Station. Luckily we did. The 1st edition of ‘Must see in Kyoto’ was published in 1985 by Japan Travel Bureau (JTB), the one we picked up was edition number 16!

I read this small guidebook on the way back to HK and thoroughly enjoyed it. There are chapters about Kyoto’s most well known temples and shrines, architecture, Kyoto-style cooking, Buddhism, Japanese gardens and festivals. I liked the drawings, explanations and short stories.

When we went back to Japan a couple of months later we hunted down the entire series. 15 small books (there are 17 books in total including two in French). There are three typical city guide books: Kyoto, Tokyo and Nikko. Other books in the series explain the Japanese way of life (Living Japanese Style), culture (Japanese family & culture), customs (Festivals of Japan) and talk about food (Eating in Japan). The most entertaining (and probably outdated) one is ‘Salaryman in Japan’. I found out how to fold newspapers on a packed train, all about the seniority system, salarymen holidays and many more interesting tidbits.

I enjoyed Martial Arts & Sports in Japan, especially the section explaining winning techniques in sumo tournaments all shown with clear illustrations. A great tutorial for anyone planning to watch a sumo match. I think that almost of all the books are great but I only flicked through ‘Who’s who of Japan’ and ‘Today’s Japan’ in a shop. Didn’t find them as interesting as the other books but bought them anyway.

It is an adorable series of small pocket books. I love it. Lots of fun with plenty of information. Very practical information. After our trips to Japan some things seem obvious but I wish I had known them before my first visit. I would make me feel more confident knowing the small stuff and I wouldn’t feel as intimidated as I did.

Japan in your pocket-3‘Salaryman in Japan’

Japan in your pocket-5‘Must see in Kyoto’

Japan in your pocket-6‘Martial arts & sports in Japan’

Japan in your pocket-2

Each book costs 930JPY (8USD). Most of the bookshops have some (if not all) of the series in the English language section.

3 thoughts on “Japan in your pocket

  1. I had this whole series back in the 90s and they were great! Unfortunately they don’t seem to be available in the US at least as of 2016.

      1. I’ve seen the used ones on Amazon. Come to think of it now, I bought mine at a Kinokunia Japanese book store in either Costa Mesa or San Jose CA over the course of a year or so. And it turns out there’s a Kinokunia store in Chicago 20 minutes from here (duh)! Guess it’s time for a visit! I was also kinda hoping JTB would have made them available as ebooks, since the complete set is probably $150-$200. Cheers — Gavin

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