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Best Japan travel guide book?

Philadelphia
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Best Japan travel guide book?

I'm traveling to Kyoto for a work conference in late November. We are planning to stay and travel for an extra week. Can anyone recommend a good travel guide book? I typically use the Rick Steve's books for Europe, but I don't think he has one for Asia. How about "Lonely Planet" or the "Rough Guide"?

Philadelphia...
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1. Re: Best Japan travel guide book?

These days, the internet has all the details you need--far more than fit in a guide. Still I like books. I like the DK Eyewitness Japan Guide for its lush illustrations. It's good for an overview, and to see what might appeal to you.

Here are some handy online resources:

http://www.japan-guide.com/ has all the destinations and lots of other useful stuff. Each destination page has an Access and Orientation link with transportation information. Here are some handy pages: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e623b.html with several links;

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2278.html http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2273.html http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2014.html

For hotels, tripadvisor.com/Hotels-g294232-Japan-Hotels.… has a pretty good search engine now, and lots of reviews by folks like you. If you can't make reservations through Trip Advisor, try a Google search or this reservation service: http://travel.rakuten.com/

http://www.hyperdia.com/ has all the train and subway scehedules. http://www.jorudan.co.jp/english/ is easier for beginners.

North Shore, MA
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for Salem
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2. Re: Best Japan travel guide book?

My favorite guide book is Gateway to Japan by June Kinoshita, published by Kodansha. Unfortunately, it is out of print, but if you can find a used copy, grab it as it is packed with useful sightseeing information (though hours, etc. may need updating) and comprehensive overviews of culture, history, and more.

I'll second Roger-R-Phila's recommendation of the DK Eyewitness Guide and the online Japan Guide.

Happy planning!

Santos, SP
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3. Re: Best Japan travel guide book?

http://www.japanvisitor.com/

http://www.tokyoessentials.com/index.shtml

http://www.bento.com/tokyofood.html

Japan
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4. Re: Best Japan travel guide book?

You should also check the JNTO web site for travel details.

http://www.jnto.go.jp/

On the "contacts" page, find the place to order maps and brochures. They mail them off quickly and they are very helpful.

I like the DK books for their background information about Japan in general and in detail, and their site seeing information is very useful. But there is little information in that book about traveling between places and accommodations. For that info Gateway to Japan is great, as mentioned previously. I also find Lonely Planet's books quite helpful.

Aoyama Dori and San...
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5. Re: Best Japan travel guide book?

My personal opinion only, online is very spotty. Wikitravel is probably the best for me because it's user-contributed and has no commercial interest or bias. If bias appears, people will edit it out. Tripadvisor is probably the best place to get specific questions answered.

I think I have almost every book published on travel and living in Japan and Rough Guide is probably the one that I refer the most people to. It just has that feeling of being written and edited by people who have been there, unlike Fodors or Frommers which is more like reading travel agency pamphlets.

Italy
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6. Re: Best Japan travel guide book?

We always get both the Lonely Planet and the D&K eyewitness guides, we get them from e-bay and pay a considerably bit less for new books than in a book shop.

Nashville, TN
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for Himeji, Kobe, Osaka
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7. Re: Best Japan travel guide book?

Most of the time I use the Internet to get the information I need, particularly up-to-date rail travel information from www.hyperdia.com. Also, most cities/prefectures have at least *some* information in English, and I use those sites extensively. Of primary importance is to get things mapped out; you can put a lot more maps on an iPod, for example, than you can carry around efficiently.

I haven't had much luck with travel apps, however, since they tend to require an active Internet connection, which isn't always guaranteed.

What I suggest for a book is to go to the library or book store and look at your options extensively. The key to a good guidebook is how the information is presented; most guide books have more or less the same information on the major tourist destinations. Rough Guide is pretty dependable; I like the National Geographic books, too - they seem to have really good maps.

Finally, I also get a lot of information on-site. Hit the tourism office first thing and pick up the latest guides to your destination for free; or email those tourism offices and see if they'll send something to you.

Good luck!

John W.

Tokyo, Japan
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8. Re: Best Japan travel guide book?

ITA about Gateway to Japan. This book is a marvel. Makes great train reading, too, as there's lots of historical background that reads like a novel.

Aoyama Dori and San...
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9. Re: Best Japan travel guide book?

National Geographic is good but heavy in comparison to Rough Guide. The contrast in weight of the paper used is stark.

Henderson, NV
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10. Re: Best Japan travel guide book?

"Japan Solo" by Eiji Kanno and Constance O'Keefe has been my traveling companion for years.

If you visit Amazon.com and read the reviews I think you'll find a consistent theme; it's honest and even has a little humor here and there. It is not a good book if you're looking for accommodations. Nothing will replace the Internet for finding lodging, at least in my opinion.

There's a new edition out, "New Japan Solo", and I guess I should buy it, but so far my old dog eared editon has never let me down.

Have a great trip...!