Tokio Art Book Fair Review by Yiyu Lam

It had been few weeks after my visit to Tokyo, and this was my second time attending the Tokyo Art Book Fair. Compare to the last book fair in Takadanobaba, it is a very different experience. For this year, it took place in the Terada Warehouse, Tenoshu, Shinagawa, which took a rather long time to travel. And we are hoping it would be worthing the time.

And here we are, in the Tokyo Art Book Fair! Thanks to the success in these past few years, it did attracted a huge crowd despite the less convenient accessibility. And according to the official, the number exhibitors has been the highest in number, over 300 artists/publishers from Japan and around the world were taking part. It took 3 exhibition halls to accommodate these exhibitors.

And here’s a first look of the fair(Hall A), the fluorescent pink infographics divided exhibition areas into different little zones.

Just to easy up the way of navigation, kind of like going to airport counters. Hands down, we can see publishers and artist groups such as Commune, and Nos:Books are in the hall, and even some well known artists such as Kawai Misaki and Ken Kagami are also taking part as an exhibitor.

I got a chance to have a chat with ChiHoi from Nos:book, showcasing his work ‘Good Afternoon, Hong Kong’. I’d call it a book in the shell of a TV. On the back of the TV, there is a view finder, which projects 8 different illustrations of Hong Kong landscape.

Apart from showing books, we saw some artist were doing some workshop in their desk front. Lee Kan Kyo, a Tokyo based Taiwanese artist(@lee_kan_kyo), in his ‘Lee point card workshop’.

Retro Insatsu Jam @retroinsatsujam, a risograph printing company based in Osaka was also taking part in the fair. They were teaching things we might not know about Risograph. (They’ve even been mixing their own Riso colors!) I’ve got this beautiful color sampling book from them, and we can see how far this Japanese printing company is pushing on the craft of Risograph.

And for Hall Z, it is more of a mix of younger artists, and some of them are showing their work for the first time in Japan. Compare to more established artists and publishers in Hall A, here we have more experimental work going on in Hall Z.

I had a chance to talk to Pimple, a Korean independent publisher formed by 3 young artists. And they’ve shown me Pearldrop by Robineggpie. It’s a black and white psychedelic visual narrative about a man born from a pear, and his journey through life and death. The book wrapped in a sharp looking Red Cover, with a dip of red on the sides. Check out their work at

I’ve also got some interesting zines from ITWSTS Studio. ‘Idiots for Sentimental Reasons’ by Momoe Nagazaki (@momoenarazaki), it is an illustrated poster book filled up with Momoe’s primitive yet surreal creations, with collage and digital drawings, printed in Risograph. The techniques applied might be quite different from each other, but it turns out working well together.

On the other side of the hall, I’ve got a chance to meet an old friend in London Saemi Jeon, who is an awarded book artist. She featured her latest work, ‘Romantic Trouble’, Name after the title of Lewis Carroll’s nonsense essay books. It is a recipe book based on the Alice in the Wonderland. The most distinctive feature is the holes on the perspex cover, which inspired by Bingo games. In a way, it resembles the rabbit holes, while it is also a playable cover as the book comes with perspex coins in different colors. letting readers assemble a customised cover. The book is bound with clear rings, and even comes with specially designed ‘book straps’.

After looking through experimental formats of books, I stumbled upon something more research oriented. Kawada Ayaka, a Space Designer,conducted an all rounded research on wood. She has been testing on 25 types on wood and put them through different kind of experiments. The results are nicely displayed on a grid layout, and it is a great enjoyment just to flip through her tests results.

To wrap up, the TABF has been an amazing experience, I’d be more than happy to pay another visit next year. Thanks to the success of the TABF, it has been inspiring many other cities in the world to hold similar activities, looking forward to seeing many other book fairs in 2018.


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