Tokyo has long been a source of fascination for travellers, and never more so than today. It's a place of eye-popping fashion, incredible food, cat cafes, hole-in-the-wall bars and train stations as big as city blocks. Neon-illuminated streets that never sleep hide warren-like alleys filled with lanterns, vending machines and tiny bars, and quirky boutique stores dotted all over the city sell everything from collectable toys to vintage vinyl.
Tokyo Precincts, written and designed by self-confessed Tokyo obsessives Steve Wide and Michelle Mackintosh, is your indispensible guide to the cool, the charming, the delicious, and the downright wacko that is Tokyo. Inside its pages, you'll find everything you need to know to delve into all that this amazing city has to offer.
Tokyo is a collection of precincts, each with its own personality. Go shopping mad in Shinjuku, tap into Tokyo's youth culture in Shibuya, rummage for a vintage treasure in Koenji, check out the latest gadgets in Akihabara, or step back in time in old-world Asakusa. Tokyo Precincts is divided into 19 precincts featuring the very best of Tokyo's shopping, eating and drinking experiences. A map is included for each precinct, and train station exits are indicated for every review, making navigating the labyrinth of Tokyo laneways a breeze.
Interviews with creative Tokyoites highlight favourite haunts, and the final travelling in Tokyo chapter offers some useful words and phrases in Japanese plus expert tips on public transport, etiquette, currency, and getting to and from the airports.
With whimsical illustrations by award-winning illustrator Michelle Mackintosh, and a gorgeous hardback cover, Tokyo Precincts is as much a beautiful keepsake as it is a detailed guidebook. So why not launch yourself into Tokyo's precincts? You never know what you might find…
Based in Melbourne, Australia, Steve Wide and Michelle Mackintosh have been obsessed with Tokyo since their first visit in the late 1990s. Since then they have been saving up all their pennies and travelling there twice a year. Steve is a passionate writer and DJ, who presents -Breakfasters' on 3RRR. Michelle is an award-winning book and stationery designer and illustrator. Together they have created all of the text, photography, illustrations and design for this travel guide.
Authors: Steve Wide and Michelle Mackintosh
Question: Can you tell us about Tokyo Precincts?
Michelle Mackintosh: My partner Steve Wide and I have been visiting Tokyo 3 times a year for the past 17 years. We had taken so many photos and found so many wonderful places to visit, it was a dream come true when we were asked to write a shopping and eating guide to our favourite city. The book is broken into 19 precincts. Each precinct has it's own feel and flavour, and a map that helps you get around. There is an illustrated section that shows you what food and drinks to try and the sort of gifts to buy. There is also a handy travel tips section that helps you navigate public transport, language, money, manners and more.
Question: You have designed and illustrated beautiful travel guides – where does your inspiration come from?
Michelle Mackintosh: I love travelling. I save up so I can go away and experience difference cultures and interesting things, see art, buildings and the way people live their lives on a day to day basis. I find that travelling helps inspire my work and gives me a broader sense of the world. We always travel to Japan in January and use the holiday to think about what interesting projects we would like to do in the year ahead. For me, to be able to design travel guides combines my passion with my work. I don't think there is a more lovely combination.
Question: What do you love about Tokyo?
Michelle Mackintosh: I love so many things about Tokyo! I love the seasons, the autumn leaves, cherry blossoms, rain and snow. I love the mash up of old and new. Temples next to modern architecture, old world craftsmanship and amazing technology. I love buying stationery, paper and wash tapes. I love Japanese fabrics, vintage shopping and buying homewares. I love the food, the amazing public transport systems, hot springs, music and art scenes. It's city with so much to offer, what ever you're into, you'll find it in Tokyo! Japanese people have impeccable manners, I always think it's the best example in the world of how people should act towards each other.
Question: Can you tell us about your house interior?
Michelle Mackintosh: We live in an Edwardian house which had a modern renovation 8 years ago. Steve is a radio DJ and has a vast music collection so we really needed to make sure the renovation included proper storage for vinyl, turntables and CDs. We collect a lot of vintage from Japan, Scandinavia and the UK. Our kitchen is filled with Japanese pottery, glassware, brass and wooden items. My design studio is full of Kokeshi dolls, Japanese packaging, bright pens, pencils and wash tapes and I have a large bookshelf full of books I've designed, I buy overseas or lovely new and vintage purchases from Australia.
Question: What's next for you?
Michelle Mackintosh: We'd love to make a shopping and eating guide for Kyoto, or another sort of guide for Tokyo that includes our favourite gardens, shrines and galleries. I also have a book called 'Snail Mail" out on the 1st April (Hardie Grant Books) all about starting a letter writing slow correspondence revolution. Snail Mail will be translated into Japanese and released in Japan in late 2015.
Interview by Brooke Hunter