By Rashaad Jorden (Yamagata-ken, 2008-10) for JQ magazine. A former head of the JETAA Philadelphia Sub-Chapter, Rashaad is a graduate of Leeds Beckett University with a master’s degree in responsible tourism management. For more on his life abroad and enthusiasm for taiko drumming, visit his blog at www.gettingpounded.wordpress.com.
You may remember being treated to “What I did during my summer vacation” tales in elementary school. Well, Christine Mari Inzer spent a memorable summer vacation visiting family in Japan and she documents those travels in a largely visual journey entitled Diary of a Tokyo Teen.
Originally published independently in 2014, this updated, expanded edition is in gorgeous full color and includes over 20 new comics and photos in a large-size format (7.5” x 10”) — all at a very affordable price.
The spirited daughter of a Japanese mother and American father, Inzer describes herself as being half at home in the United States and half at home in Japan, and summarizes her travels through a collection of photos, illustrations (all self-drawn), and anecdotes. Geared toward young adults (the author is currently a student at the University of Richmond), Inzer details the ups and downs of travel while humorously detailing some moments of aggravation, such as her frustration with the shyness of Japanese boys.
For young people interested in eventually visiting Japan, Diary of a Tokyo Teen provides an introduction to several of the country’s landmarks (the Daibustu in Nara, Kinkaku-ji, in Kyoto, etc.), cultural aspects, quirks (such as the ubiquity of vending machines), and of course, the food, which should stir the fondest memories of anyone who’s ever had a meal in Japan—Mos Burger or otherwise. Through reading her travelogue, Inzer comes across as a writer who would make an excellent travel blogger, as she gives prospective visitors to Japan fascinating tidbits about the country’s culture and attractions.
While the journal might have been enhanced a bit with the inclusion of a couple of other aspects of Japanese culture (if Inzer spent a summer in Japan, you would think she surely had to have experienced a hanabi taikai), you don’t have to be an adolescent to enjoy Diary of aTokyo Teen. Reading about her journey through Japan will surely evoke natsukashii moments for anyone who has spent a lot of time in the country.