by Suzy Small 

HAVING lived in Tokyo for a while, it’s easy to get into a rut. You know that you should really do some sightseeing and make the most of your time, but lugging a guidebook around or visiting yet another shrine has limited appeal. The answer could be LUXE Tokyo: a slim pamphlet of concertina folded cardboard, packed to the brim with sassy commentary on what’s hot — and not — in the city. The style is in stark contrast to the diplomatic tones of Frommers or the Lonely Planet — LUXE is not afraid to say something is not worth doing. The up front attitude that pervades the guide is epitomized by the ‘LUXE Loves’ (including “Japanese Loos — wash n’go”) and ‘LUXE Loathes’ (“Come on, what the hell kind of stupid address system does this town have?”) sections, and makes for a lively and opinionated read.

The guide is updated twice a year, meaning that it doesn’t have time to get out of date, and offers streamlined tips on the most fun and fabulous things in town. Unlike most other guidebooks, you won’t find maps, demographics, rainfall stats, train timetables, bus or ‘cheap eats’, which makes it a particularly useful resource for longer term Tokyoites, who presumably know how to catch the subway and where the nearest Doutour is.

Instead, the guides include shopping itineraries for some of the city’s most  fashionable areas, and tips on restaurants, bars and activities. There is great information on where to go for pampering, yoga, ikebana classes, early morning sumo training, or to watch an “utterly bizarre tranny show” (Roppongi, of course). According to Grant Thatcher, LUXE’s Publishing Editor, the guides were designed to fill a gap in the market, “LUXE readers are solvent, and there was nothing out there for smart, busy, discerning people who have cash and dash, and zero time to make mistakes.”

Thatcher believes that what makes the guides unique is their “brisk writing style that can be funny and harsh in the same breath, candid opinion, brevity and beauty, and we go the extra mile to find unique custom and bespoke services and shopping for LUXE readers.”

Refreshingly, they also don’t bother to mention the obvious: “LUXE never features ‘luxury’ label brands, we prefer to guide our readers to creating their own furniture, clothes, jewelry, fabric etc as well as featuring unique local designers and suppliers.”

LUXE Tokyo is one of a series of guides to Asian cities that were launched in 2002 with LUXE Bangkok. All the guides share the aim of being a fast track guide to what makes a city smart, stylish, fun and unique. LUXE Tokyo would make a great addition to the bookshelf of any Tokyo local — as well as lending it to visitors, it could provide the inspiration you need to get off the sofa, and out and about on the weekends.

LUXE Tokyo, and the other guides, can be purchased from for $7.50.