Tokyo Like a Local

This isn't your ordinary travel guide. You won't find the Tokyo Tower and the Imperial Palace in these pages, because that's not where Tokyoites hang out. Instead, you'll meet the locals in iconic anime shops, modern art galleries, or whilst paddle boring along the scenic Okutama River—and that's where this book takes you. 

Compiled by two proud locals, this stylish travel guide is packed with Tokyo's best experiences and secret spots, handily categorized to suit your mood and needs. Planning a trip to Tokyo soon? Read on for an excerpt of unique traditions and activities for each season in the city.

Marking the transition from winter to spring is a riot of pink Sakura across Tokyo. Locals celebrate with hanami, cherry-blossom viewing picnics beneath the blooming trees. 

Sumo season hits its peak in May, when the anticipated Tokyo Grand Sumo Tournament is held. Those lucky enough to get a ticket cheer at the stadium, but most gather at home to watch it on TV.

Japanese food is heavily influenced by the seasons, and spring is a time of new growth. Restaurants swap out heavy winter food for lighter flavours: think bamboo shoots, fresh sea bream, and Sakura-flavoured sweets and drinks.

Summer starts with a bang—literally—when hanabi (fireworks) season lights up the sky. Donning a yukata (summer kimono), dancing through the streets, and tucking into street food defines the rest of the festival season, full of celebrations for everything from deities to flowers.

Sighs of "atsui!" ("it's hot!") and tinklings of wind chimes make up the sounds of summer. Hot, humid days in the city are made bearable with kakigori (a shaved ice dessert). But when the heat gets too much, locals head to seaside towns for a dose of cooler air and a refreshing dip.

Musicians of every genre take over in the summer. Fuji Rock brings, well, rock in July; Summer Sonic plays a mix of punk, rock, and hip-hop in August; and Ultra Japan gets crowds pumping to electronic dance music in September.

Koyo (fall leaves) come to the fore and cause an obsession similar to spring's cherry blossoms. Most people stroll through the parks to enjoy the colours, but the more adventurous head to the mountains.

As the days get colder, Tokyoites head into traditional bathhouses or venture to hot-spring towns to warm up and relax.

People here need little excuses to dress up (Tokyo is cosplay central, after all) and Halloween is unsurprisingly big business come October. Partygoers take to the streets in extravagant costumes for epic parties.

Stunning illuminations mark the start of winter across the city. Locals wrap up and head to holiday markets, stocking up on gifts and delicious treats. Perusing the 700-odd stalls at the Setagaya Boroichi flea market is a yearly ritual.

With darker nights and a chill in the air, it's all about indulging in winter warmers: comforting oden (stew), nabe (hot pots) and hot sake.

Ski season is a big deal in Japan, but as Tokyo lacks the requisites for winter sports, groups take the train to nearby ski villages for weekend fun.

A new year in Tokyo is a time to reflect—and party. Some locals head to temples to pray for good health while others celebrate at clubs.

Ready for a taste of true Tokyo? Visit your nearest bookstore and pick up a copy of Tokyo Like a Local now! 

Tokyo Like a Local

There's nowhere like Tokyo: soaring skyscrapers, striking temples, and enchanting cherry blossoms. But what's beyond the classic sights? American-style diners dishing up hearty bowls of soba noodles, basement bars hosting live "Discovery Channel with beer" talks, hidden bars pouring house-made yuzu - and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Of course, with a city as unique as Tokyo we could fill the pages of this book tenfold. Rather, Tokyo Like a Local offers a snapshot of local life, and it's yours for the taking. ... more ... less
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