Manabeshima Island Japan: One Island, Two Months, One Minicar, Sixty Crabs, Eighty Bites and Fifty Shots of Shochu

December 1, 2015 Juju Kurihara Books, Culture, illustration, Literature, Trip Tags: , , , , 11 Comments

When I was shown this book, I thought I had to have this physically. I was also offered as an e-book but this is something you like to have in your hand. 
The book, "Manabeshima Island Japan” is an observation of a French artist, Florent Chavouet who bravely jumped into this small island of 300 population with his very little Japanese conversation skill. But he probably got involved in the local life more than any Japanese tourists who visit this island and had had a deeper connection to the people. 
Manabeshima has become popular recently because of its cats population. The island is even known as “cats island” among Japanese. But no one has ever be so related to the locals more than Chavouet. Not always good but sure he got to know them enough to write a book about.
There are many unique people in the island such as Ikkyu san who own a small bar and is an occasional monk. A guy called Rock whose Japanese is decodable. A woman who chased Chavouet around to offer him a drawing model. After reading this book, I feel very familiar to them. 
ikkyu san
Another amazing part of the book is the maps of the places. This is the bar of Ikkyu san. So much detail and well captured the atmosphere that makes you feel you are actually inside the place. 
shop inside
People of Manabeshima seem to be very helpful. Chavouet went there with not so much money but the locals often invited him to eat or drink or they asked him a drawing for exchange. Since it´s an island, they have abundant fish. They even cook fish and seafood for BBQ. 
I can´t decide yet if the people have such personalities or the description of Chavouet is simply funny. I could´t stop smiling all through the book and sometimes I had to laugh very hard. “… so I once again got the typical ehhhh x70”. If you have been in Japan, you might have noticed how Japanese people express their emotions with Ahhhhs or Hehhhhhs. 
Another funny thing about this book is Chavouet´s hypotheses. He sees things and make hypotheses but they are very surrealistic. Look how he imagined the way a helmet arrived at the beach. He is a full of imagination!
hypotethis 2



really recommend this book even though you probably won´t go to Manabeshima but also for the great illustrations as well as to know the life in an island of Japan. Just enjoy! But I warn you that you definitely will want to visit the island after reading this not for the cat but the people there. Please promise me not to shout, “ROCK!!!” even though you feel so familiar to him.
We are giving away this book for one person. Please leave us a comment and we will announce the winner on this Friday! 

You can purchase the book from 


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  1. Hello Everyone,
    Thank you for your comments and showing us your interests.
    This time´s giveaway is going to Wendy. Please send us an email with your postal address and complete name.
    The publisher will send you the book.
    Thank you again to all for your participation.
    iromegane editor.

  2. Linda Yu 7 years Reply

    I really like the attention to details in the illustrations. I’d imagine it will be a very fun read. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Azura 7 years Reply

    Wow, lovely book! So interesting a Frenchman was able to get such insight on the people and way of life on a Japanese island. Would love the chance to read this book 🙂

  4. Lilly 7 years Reply

    Love the art and style of this book! I will spend some time in Japan next year and since cats are my favorite animals I am looking forward to finally visit Manabeshima 🙂

  5. Wendy 7 years Reply

    A vivid illustration of the friendly Japan! Would really love to visit there after reading only a few pages here! Thanks for sharing!!

  6. Beth Parkhurst 7 years Reply

    What a charming book! It makes me think of my visit long ago to a Koshikijima village (Kagoshima Prefecture). The island was lovely and everyone there was very kind to me. I would love to visit again.

    Thank you very much for letting us know about Florent Chavouet’s book.

  7. Wayne Lam 7 years Reply

    Beautiful illustrations. Love the insight of the people on the island.

  8. Yoko-chan90 7 years Reply

    Sounds pretty good book and illustration looks nice. I just visited the cat island Aoshima this summer because I’m a big cat lovers. So Manabeshima might be very interesting for me.

    • juju.kurihara 7 years

      Hi, Yoko-chan90,

      Thank you for the comment. I have to approve any coming comment 🙂

  9. The illustrations are wonderfully fantastic! I especially like the detailed picture of the map of the inside of Ikkyusan’s place. I’m not only interested in reading this book, but also exploring more art by the illustrator. Thank you for sharing this on Facebook!

  10. Love it! Is this the Manabejima that is off of the coast of Kasaoka City (Okayama Prefecture)? I have been wanting to go here for a while…and I think I might, after reading this post.
    I would love to win a copy of this book. But if I don’t win, I will probably buy a copy anyway–love the artist’s style! Thanks for sharing this great find.

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