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Rugby World Cup: The Secret Life of Tokyo

Soak: Sentos are traditional Japanese bathhouses famed for their healing properties

Scrum, Sento and Sushi will be in the right order if England are crowned Rugby World Cup Champions in Japan. But win or lose, the nation has won a lot of new admirers for its charm, politeness and warmth. What started off as a website featuring online travel guides for author Anna Chittenden, has now morphed into a series of books, created for the stylish nomad with an interest in experiences rather than conspicuous consumption and an eye for quality, design and authenticity.

Discover a path less trodden filled with the most amazing, secret locations, quirky boutiques and tastiest foodie spots imaginable. Lost Guides – Tokyo & Beyond includes over 100 wonderful places, 40 special sites to explore outside the city, and will unlock the mystery and magic of Japan, both for frequent and new visitors. The embossed tome is the definitive guide to unique, stylish and offbeat exploration in Japan. From Tokyo’s tastiest ramen to affordable sushi spots, from flea markets selling vintage kimonos to secret open-air sentos, from the rich heritage of Kyoto to late night karaoke, from skiing in the snowy mountains of Hakuba to onsen-hopping in Hakone, uncover the secrets of Tokyo and beyond.

Off the beaten track: Discover Tokyo’s hidden cool spots, fashion boutiques and culinary gems

The guides, which already include a volume on Bali and Singapore, have become a trustworthy source compiled to enable the reader to have inspiring and memorable holiday experiences, and eliminate tedious research. They also have a strong visual appeal with original photography and bespoke hand-drawn illustrated maps by Rinanda Adelia.

Judges at the recent Spotted Awards at Olympia in west London for emerging talent at Top Drawer, the leading trade fair for lifestyle, print design and gifts described Chittenden’s guides as “beautiful imagery and useful, off-beat recommendations”. As she celebrated her runner’s-up award, Chittenden told WLT that travel guides will not be replaced by digital versions due to the research, local knowledge and curation that go into them. They are also very tactile and can be carried everywhere without worrying battery power or WiFi will be lost.

“Initial impressions of Tokyo from afar led me to believe the city would be chaotic, futuristic and alien, but I’ve found the opposite to be true. What I discovered is a city that is steeped in tradition, charm and kindness, from the almost overly polite service in restaurants and the delightful neighbourhoods filled with independent places to eat and shop, to immersive cultural customs like the Japanese art of bathing. Japan is a joy to travel around,” she enthused. 

Initial impressions of Tokyo from afar led me to believe the city would be chaotic, futuristic and alien, but I’ve found the opposite to be true.

ANNA CHITTENDEN

If England winning the Rugby World (or at least coming so close) has filled you with so much pride that you want to retrace their steps to Japan, then you will be part of a growing number of wanderlust spirits attracted by the growing allure of this nation. In 2018, a new record number of 31.2m people visited Japan according to Nippon newspaper. Momentum is already mounting to meet the goal of 40m overseas visitors by 2020, when Tokyo will host the Olympic and Paralympic Games following on the heels of the just-concluded Rugby World Cup. 

Through a lens: Enjoy unique perspectives of Tokyo via candidly framed photography

Japan is rich in history, culture and memorable experiences – an exquisite mix of both the traditional and the modern. According to the Daily Telegraph, numbers of annual tourists to Japan have soared since 2010, making “the country – by some distance – the decade’s fastest growing major destination”. 

Lost Guides – Tokyo & Beyond also includes a useful Need to Know section, hotel and accommodation recommendations alongside detailed itineraries from 10 days to 48 hours, reflecting the current trend for long-haul mini-breaks. It also includes two mini guides, one revealing an expert’s favourite ramen shops, and another by Stephanie Crohin, a public bath or ’sento’ expert and the official sento ambassador for the Japan Association of Sento Culture. A Japanese photo journal by Kathryn Bagley, a Tokyo-based photographer, is also included. 

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