A Year in Japan: Kate T. Williamson

This might be a bit more niche than the books I usually review, but I've been dipping in and out of Kate T. Williamson's illustrated travelogue 'A Year in Japan', and I love it.

Kate T. Williamson is an American writer and illustrator who went off to Kyoto for a year to work as a sock designer (!), which is especially awesome because she did it at around the same time as me; who knows, we may have met at some point. She wrote 'A Year in Japan' about the little, idiosyncratic memories that make up your impression of a place, which is wonderful because whilst everyone knows about the cherry blossom and the kimonos, the things I really remember, as she does, are random things like the 'safe fruit' in completely OTT packaging that cost an extortionate amount (there was always a box fresh melon in my local supermarket for
¥10,000 (about £50) that I never saw anyone buy), and the delicate gloves and fresh flowers of the taxi drivers, who drove spotless cars with automated voices and automatically opening doors. It hasn't got the best reviews on Amazon (I added a nice one to even things out) because I'm not sure its description there makes it clear that this is a book of nostalgia, rather than information, which is why I particularly enjoy it, but also why someone who knows nothing about Japan may not.

Being an illustrator as well, this book is also full of the most beautiful drawings by Kate T. Williamson herself, and luckily some of them were posted as page excerpts on Amazon, so I've added them below. The binding and page quality is also lovely, so this book is a gorgeous thing to have lying around, and would make a great gift of a Japanophile (is there a proper name for this?).





Title: 日本の一年 (A Year in Japan)
Author: Kate T. Williamson
Genre: Illustrated Travelogue
Publisher: Princeton Architectural Press
Publication date: 2006
Format: Paperback. I was bought it for Christmas 2011.


  1. I've not been to Japan but I love nostalgic little travel memoirs like this. The illustrations look beautiful and I'm sure that if I read this book, I would be on the next plane....

  2. Hi Sam, that is the danger with books like this, isn't it?

    It made me want to go back immediately too. I'd totally recommend this book, not just for the lovely, lovely illustrations, but the paper and layout are gorgeous too, making it a really tactile and engaging object.


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