It’s not often you meet a teenager who has written and illustrated a book based on her travels.
Christine Mari Inzer, whose father is American and mother is Japanese, was just 15 when she traveled solo from America to Tokyo to “get in touch with her roots.” While here, she created “Diary of a Tokyo Teen,” which is brimming with humorous insight into Japanese culture. Originally self-published, the book has since been picked up by Tuttle Publishing, and will be available in Japan from September 28. We asked Inzer, now 19, a few questions about the book.
What inspired you to write the book?
In high school, I was really eager to create something and I was full of ideas, whether it was designing posters or starting a web comic, but I never followed through on any of those projects and I was beginning to get discouraged. I was really into graphic novels in general but I really liked travelogues. My favorite was Lucy Knisley’s “French Milk“: it introduced me to the genre and I loved the idea of using art to record my travel experiences, but I didn’t expect to be able to make my own travelogue because I was still a high school student. But the summer before my junior year, my dad encouraged me to travel to Japan to get in touch with my roots and record my experiences. I was a bit nervous, but I thought it would be a great opportunity to pursue my art. It worked out better than I ever could have imagined.
What was your favorite part of the journey?
My favorite part of the holiday in Japan was the trip I made to Kyoto with my baba (grandmother). But one of my favorite parts of making the book has to be the pages about Japanese fashion. I’ve always admired how Japanese fashion is more focused on expressing oneself as opposed to following trends.
What has surprised you about the experience of publishing your book?
It started out as a personal project, so it never crossed my mind that this was going to be read around the world. I think this mindset allowed me to create something deeply personal. However, a lot of readers are finding that the book reminds them of their own experiences in Japan or of traveling in general, and that makes me very happy.