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Japan (Country Guide)

  • 005 4  Clearly as the ' Lonely Planet ' has metamorphosed from Backpackers Ltd . into BigBusiness PLC the underlying philosophies that prompted the original Lonely Planet to be born and take shape have gone out the window with the shabby furniture and the Commodore 64 . En vogue instead we have designer cocktails and chic bars , lots of shopping , not-so-cheap-hotels , not-so-reliable-information ( oh ! and the ever present blind cartographer - who draws those ridiculous maps ? ) . That is a charge I levy at the India , Thailand and Japan editions ( thankfully I haven't bought any others ) . I know it's hard to travel anywhere without the comfort blanket of a guidebook - but I really feel that in this day and age you'd be better off searching the internet printing out some web-pages sticking them in an A4 file and bringing them along to your chosen destination . Not only would the information be relevant to the individual , it would be a lot lighter than the LP , be a LOT more up-to-date and a LOT cheaper too . That said however , when I first arrived in Japan there weren't so many good web-sites in English and so I opted for a LP Japan ; I had a 6th edition copy . The points that frustrated me are too numerous to mention , they mostly revolve around shoddy information or complete lack thereof , half-truths sold as the real thing and a mentality toward the world and travelling that I find repugnant . To keep it brief I shall pick up three things form the Japanese edition . Firstly the eternal lazy ' refer to TIC ' instead of providing the information ! I paid 16 pounds English for a ' guide ' book and you instruct me to refer to the local tourist office for information . . . . ? am I missing something here . . . ? isn't that what a guidebook is ' supposed ' to offer me . . . so I DON'T have to ' refer to TIC ' ? ? I actually mailed the LP offices on that point , but obviously they were all too busy on their yachts having cocktails to get back to me . . . The second point is the sheer subjectivity of the writing . When I originally read the review on Osaka castle I was provided with a mental picture so horrible I felt it best not to go . When however a Japanese friend suggest we go , to which my response was to regurgitated the LP writer , my friend was somewhat bemused , anyway reluctantly I was persuaded and went to see the carbuncle , please allow me to quote directly Osaka's foremost attraction is unfortunately a 1931 concrete reproduction . . . the inside looks like a barn with lifts . . . hardly an attractive write-up , and yet however what I saw was NOTHING like what had been described in the book ! Osaka castle certainly ranks alongside Himeji , Okazaki and Nagoya , is well worth seeing and has a great interior with lots of exhibits ; really no sign of a barn anywhere . . . I was really quite taken aback by the blatant falsehoods in the book and the huge disparity between the writers OPINION ( keyword ) and the REALITY - I even wonder if they ever actually visited the place . I assumed they were on a whirlwind tour of Asia and flew overhead on their way to their beach-hut in Kho Phangan or Koh Samui . That was until I met people who know some of the the ' contributors ' and they supposedly actually have extensive experience of Japan and Japanese life ; which makes the banal comments ( of which there are too may to list ) all the more surprising . The third point is the very sketchy information about VERY famous places . I'll use the example of Japanese pottery to illustrate my contention . Not only is Japanese pottery one of the most respected and admired in the ceramic world , with one of the longest histories . But Japan can lay claim to more active pottery districts than either of their close rivals ( China and Korea ) can . Take Bizen ( Okayama ) and Shigaraki ( Shiga ) at two prime examples , two regions that are still VERY alive and very active , very interesting and wholly worth a visit by anyone interested in the Arts or a day in the countryside . Bizen is treated to a whole 5cm x 13cm block of text , whilst Shigaraki gets a 5x6cm block to set out its 700 year history . And neither of the write-ups convey what I KNOW from experience the place is like or what it has to offer . . . impressed ? As LP Japan is a long-seller I think it wise that they clear out the old Japanophile clique and install an new editorial staff ( including Japanese writers ) who can overhaul the book and give it a new breath of life . To be quite honest too , as a long-term resident of Japan I HATE this book even more now than I did at first . It would take me too long to explain and probably damage my karma so badly in the process that it wouldn't be worth it . However , what prompted me to write the review was that I was planning a few day-trips recently around Kansai ( including to the above pottery regions ) and found this LP , when I re-read sections my toes just curled up with horror - and then I checked the internet for up-to-date information and was pretty disgusted by the gulf that exists between a book like this and the reality of things here . Not only that , but the prevailing attitude that seeps from the pores of this book would I wonder taint the visitor in a way that they would then miss the beauty of real Japan , I hope not . If you are planning a trip here , then my advice is to get on a computer and keyword where you want to go and what interests you , please look beyond Kyoto and the temples and you will find a wonderland awaits you . Seek and ye shall find . Thank you .
    • 001 4  One thing you find about being in Japan for awhile is that no guide book can read your mind - you have to discover your favorite places for yourself . However , a book like this can be very helpful no matter how familiar you are with the country , and for newcomers it's indispensable . Here's why : Lonely Planet does a good job of packing as much detail as possible into each section . Beyond the typical hotel and restaurant listings , they mention a wealth of transportation options in even the most remote areas of the country , they include cultural anecdotes about each region , and - most importantly - include plenty of Japanese script to help you find your way around , especially on rural rail lines . They have a good sense of humor without being haughty ( as many other travel guides on Japan do - such as Frommer's ) , although one of their best quotes - the suggestion that the resort area of Hakone can seem like ' a conveyor belt designed to strip you of your cash ' is nowhere to be found . There are plenty of listings for bargians both in eating and accomodation - Lonely Planet has never been the wealthy man's guide , although if you * are * swimming in cash , it will do you just fine . Extensive maps with good detail . You might think this would be standard for all travel guides - but this is a detail that many of them overlook . Lonely Planet is very good about warning you of potential tourist traps . This is especially important in Japan , where if you decide to sightsee in the same location as everyone else , you'll feel like you're heading to the bathroom during halftime of an NFL game . LP advises you of peak travel seasons to different areas of Japan that you may want to avoid to save money and beat the crowds . In Japan , fellow tourists in most cases will be other Japanese - lots of them . LP has consistently produced the best guide to Japan out there and works hard to ensure its info is up-to-date . Other travel guides , for example , have STILL not noticed that a new shinkansen ( bullet train ) line was built from Kagoshima to Yatsushiro in Kyushu , shaving hours off the trip to Fukuoka , and that the name of Kagoshima's central train station changed as a result . LP is the only book I have seen that noticed this major transportation development - in place for almost two years now . Big sections on Japan's most visited cities ( Tokyo and Kyoto ) , with good suggestions for side trips for those on a tight schedule . So why only three stars ? First , there isn't THAT much new material in this guide . If you are familiar with Japan and keep up with the news in the country , you can probably rely on older editions of this guide - there isn't anything crucial meriting a purchase , unless you want a few more restaurant suggestions . If Japan is new to you , you need this most up-to-date edition , which will be your best friend - especially outside of Tokyo . Second , LP's editors sometimes seem to have a hard time making up their mind as to what parts of Japan are interesting and worth a look : in the last edition , the small northern city of Aizu-Wakamatsu was mentioned only in brief as a drab industrial city , but here it is covered in pretty extensive detail . Who suddenly decided to put Aizu on the ' cool ' list ? As I said above , only you can decide in the long run what things in Japan are best for you , but I think Aizu's worth a visit ( just don't go in the fall unless you want to see the entire population of northern Honshu there with you ) . Third , although I enjoy LP's sense of humor , any guide that uses frisky and volcanoes in the same sentence is automatically disqualified from a five-star rating . Also , I can do without the left-wing rah-rahing that pops up in some places ( though many ' progressive ' world travelers enjoy that sort of thing , so it shouldn't hurt sales ) . Finally , I would prefer that LP limit its use of the word ' vibrant ' to 50 instances per edition . On a positive note , the horrible Sailor Moon inspired ' anime ' drawing in the ' Culture ' section , so obviously wrought by someone not Japanese , is gone . All that aside , any visitor to or resident of Japan ought to have a copy of this guide . It's a valuable resource and one of the few travel guides that - if not perfect - does everything right that it needs to and beats out the competition . If you're considering a visit to Japan , this book should be your first reference .
    • 002 4  For years , Lonely Planet's Japan guide has been the benchmark among the many books available on the trendiest country in East Asia . The latest edition of their Japan guide continues to provide the high quality their readers have come to expect . High points of this edition include : - LP's authors seem to have found something to do in nearly every corner of Japan . While I still believe that to enjoy Japan best you must find your own places to enjoy - not just the ones within walking distance of a Starbucks - LP will help keep you from getting lost as you make your way from the train station to the twice-daily bus on the way to the Onsen In The Middle Of Nowhere ( and if there is a Starbucks nearby that onsen , they'll tell you about that , too ) . It's especially helpful that they list smaller diversions like the Shin-Yokohama Ramen Museum right along side of more famous attractions such as Yokohama's Chinatown - these are very helpful for people with a couple of hours to burn while they wait for their train . - Restaurant suggestions . I don't use LP's restaurant choices religiously , but they are extremely helpful if you're unused to Japanese food ( or with someone new to it ) ; LP lists everything from high-end kaiseki restaurants to railway-station ramen stands to chain izakaya ( pubs ) with English menus - the last are an excellent way to try out different types of Japanese food without the guesswork . - Lodging . LP shines here in their recommendations of ryokan ( Japanese style-inns ) and minshuku ( pensions ) , most of which don't appear on Expedia or even Japanese-language websites . These are great places to enjoy real Japanese hospitality , and LP knows which ones are welcoming to foreigners , which have the best food , and which have the best onsen ( hot springs ) . - Japanese text . I can't emphasize this enough - it's absolutely critical to have Japanese translations of city names , train stations , attractions , and other important locations ( hospitals , anyone ? ) written in Japanese as well as English . If you speak little or no Japanese , the text not only helps you read most signs outside of the major metro areas , it helps you to ask for directions , navigate restaurant menus , and maybe even learn some kanji . Here are a few things I took issue with in this edition : - Inaccurate transportation information . Don't worry , LP is generally reliable throughout the book and won't steer you wrong . The problem is what gets left out , particularly in the airport transportation category . For example , nobody bothers to tell you that Keikyu Railways provides service to Haneda Airport from Shinagawa for less money and in a shorter time than the Tokyo Monorail , which is silly because the last edition of the guide didn't make this mistake . LP also heartily recommends taking the Keisei tokkyu limited express service from Narita Airport instead of the all-reserved Skyliner . Don't even * think * about this if you have heavy baggage or are unused to crowds in Japan . The tokkyu is a commuter train and you'll be riding with several hundred close ( literally ) Japanese friends by the time you reach Ueno . - Toyoko Inn . LP directs budget travelers to this chain of cookie-cutter business hotels several times in this edition . Although Toyoko Inn is very popular among foreign travelers in Japan because of their English website and free rice-ball breakfasts , the chain is often more expensive than hotels with better service . Toyoko Inn's Flintstones-tech beds ( my term ) are my archenemy after repeatedly messing up my back . Do yourself a favor and make reservations at Toyoko's rival , Route Inn . Route Inn hotels have a free full breakfast for those who book online , often include a free onsen in the hotel , have more comfortable beds than Toyoko , and have rates that are often lower . In addition , Tokyu Hotels , Sunroute Hotels , Solare Hotels , Washington Hotels , and other business hotel chains have English websites that deserve your attention before Toyoko . - The Safety section lists what to do in case of fire and earthquake , but doesn't mention typhoons . Although most modern Japanese buildings are safe refuges in a typhoon , LP ought to devote at least a paragraph to safety precautions to take if you get stuck in a city in a typhoon's path - and several hit Japan every summer and fall . - LP's traditional wittiness is lessened somewhat as their writers turn over . Last edition's clever description of active volcano Sakurajima was : Looming over Kagoshima is the brooding cone of this decidedly hyperactive volcano . The new authors call it frisky . Say it with a knowing smile , folks : Frisky does not go in the same sentence as volcano . Although again there isn't a overwhelming amount of new information in this book , LP's guide fits into the travel plans of just about anyone : Hardcore backpackers , exchange students , couples and even business travelers will all find the something useful in the guide for them . As always , the LP guide remains your best bet for exploring Japan .
    • 003 4  I highly recommend checking out the Amazon reviews written about the previous edition of this guidebook . Most of the negative reviews still apply to this version , which I recently used on a 3 week trip in Japan . While the book did manage to help me find many of Japan's main sights , that is hardly a major accomplishment for a book like this . I expected it to provide me some in-depth off the beaten path knowledge about the places I was visiting , and on this mark it fails . The book places a heavy emphasis on listing Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines as sights . However , the book only provides a one page , very uninformative description of what Buddhism and Shinto are . The only way I eventually learned enough about these religions in order to better appreciate the shrines and temples the book sent me to , was to go to an Internet cafe and read some Wikipedia articles about the subject . All it would have taken was a well researched 1 page essay on the subject . The fact that Lonely Planet was unable to even provide that minimal content speaks volumes about the failings of this book . The book is even more useless when it comes to providing insight into modern Japan . Pachinko parlors , for example , are so ubiquitous that they are obviously a major part of Japan's culture . However , the book doesn't spend even one sentence talking about the activity . Such omissions are quite a big deal for this country , for even at the biggest temples and shrines , English language descriptions are generally very unclear . In many cases , the guidebook was the only source of English information I had available . It became frustrating that the heavy book I was carrying around was such a poor source of answers to my questions . On a practical note , the book's lodging listings are too often very small bed and breakfast style places . While these are certainly nice if you get a reservation , they unfortunately fill up very quickly . More than once we ran into problems , because every single reasonable ( $125 / night ) lodging listed in the book was fully booked . What would have been more helpful were a few phone numbers for some generic business hotels . Throw in the fact that the maps are abysmally vague and that the wordy writing style makes the book about 25% bigger than it needs to be , and it becomes very difficult to recommend this guidebook .
    • 004 4  My preference is the Eyewitness Travel DK - Japan - which has excellent graphics but is just 400 pages long . But now I have to reconsider because of this new guide from Lonely Planet . This book is just a tremendous effort 800 pages long , very well balanced with photos , maps , history , etc . It is clearly a 5 star guide . I would rate it ( and DK Eyewitness Travel ) head and shoulders ahead of Frommers , or Rough Guide or similar books that are less well balanced . Japan is a place one does not visit every day and it is expensive . Also I like to go well armed with maps and books because unlike the USA or Canada some areas have no English signs so the more information the better . It is unnerving to be on trains and subways where there is just Japanese signs . I would recommend this book , and at least one book on Japan's society - see plus a good map book . This book is well balanced and like the DK guide is that it pulls a lot of things together such as history and culture and urban areas . The book brings it all to life with just magnificent photos and maps . Personally I would buy more than one guide and definitely a guide on just Tokyo , so I would buy this book or the lighter 400 page DK guide and one book on Tokyo . Either case this is an excellent buy . 5 stars .
    • 006 4  I find the other reviews of this book interesting . Maybe it's b / c going to Japan was the first trip out of the country on our own ( so we don't have any other LP guides to compare to ) , but my boyfriend and I found this book invaluable for our trip . A day didn't go by when we didn't pull this book out and look at its maps or information about where we were at in Japan . In fact , one day we left the book in our hotel room - - and we regretted every minute of it . I found this book well-informed and well-organized . The chapter on Kyoto could have been organized better ( should match the same city sections as the magical map they give you when you buy a bus pass at the tourist information center ) and the maps can be a little tricky to read when you have to keep flipping from one side of the map with the listing of landmarks to the other side to refer to the map . But overall , the book is worth the $ $ when planning your trip and as reference during your trip . If it were not for this book we would have never found the Kyoto Handicraft Center or the best yaki-udon in Nikko !
    • 007 4  while sifting through the various travel books before my trip to japan , i found lonely planet japan to be the most well written and organized , had the best maps and was the most intuitive . . over let's go ( comparable for overall info , but not as good in other parts ) and frommer's ( which sucked completely ) . japan is very confusing to get around . so i was looking for some good maps . i thought lonely planet featured the best ones . clear , not too overcrowded . easy to read . That is until . . . . i noticed that one of the very first maps in the itinerary suggestions sections is inaccurate . the island is labeled hokkaido instead of honshu ( its a map depicting a trip from tokyo to kyoto and nara , which are not on the island of hokkaido ) . just be warned : even with some of the better travel books , make sure you double check things . this major discrepancy definitely took away from the credibility of the book . i know errors happen , but this one was so glaringly obvious , that i was surprised and disappointed to find it in this book , just after i had thought i'd found a winner . now i will feel like i'm just looking for more errors .
    • 008 4  I usually trust Lonely Planet to give good recommendations , but this time it let me down . They may have done a good job in some other travel countries but not Japan . After a year of living in Japan , I have explored many of the main tourist places . I get the feeling that the writers may have been in a big hurry when they wrote the Japan guide . Sometimes I wonder if they visited many of the places they suggest at all . Their visit recommendations are no better than you could easily find on a basic internet search , the maps are vague , the restaurants are often disappointing . It's also longer overdue for an update . Maybe they'll do better next time .
    • 009 4  I generally like the Lonely Planet Guides and have used them in many countries . This particular guide became a running joke . It is difficult to get a bad meal in Japan , but the worst meals we had were at places recommended in the Guide . If the Guide recommends a restaurant , I would stay away . Just use the maps to wander around a neighborhood , look at the food in the windows , find something that looks good and you will enjoy your trip much more than if you depended on this book for culinary recommendations .
    • 010 4  THe book has a lot of information , it covers everything you will need to do in Japan . I stayed at the Washington hotel in Sujuku , Tokyo , a great location and a nice quiet , clean and efficient room . I DID NOT like the layout of the book . It was difficult to find things to refer back as a reference . THey are not listed in a logical order , some under activities , some under sights and not much of anything listed under the index . So , if I am trying to find a sight that I remember was mentioned in the book , chances are , it would not be in the index and I would have to sift through the pages and guess where the location was or , use a lot of bookmarks for easy refererence . Also , the location of the sight is not clearly marked . This can be a problem since Tokyo's train stations are so large , without specifics , you may get off at the site and wander around until you can find someone who speaks English and is willing to help , not always easy .
    • 011 4  A hopeless mess of headlines and confusing comments , very little structure . No rankings of what you should see and do , no pictures , no useful restaurant and hotel recommendations . Endless yatter about nothing makes this a boring read with almost no real content . Absolutely worthless on our Japan trip to Tokyo and Kyoto . This is not the first time we have been disappointed by Lonely Planet . They cater to backpackers only , usually looking for the cheapest accomodation and meals , and with no value added for the traveller who is short on time but still wants to make the most out of his / her time . We ended up buying the Eyewitness Guoide which is fast and easy to use .
    • 012 4  I've used Lonely Planet Guides for my many trips abroad but the Japan Travel Guide is by far the most confusing and contains very few maps , directions , and information . I spent the majority of my time asking locals how to get to a location because the Lonely Planet guide did not provide a map or even directions for that matter . In Japan you need a map and a good one at that . You will spend the majority of your time walking the city and taking trains and you need to have a grasp of the area . This book did not provide any of that and it made me question Lonely Planet's quality and substance .
    • 013 4  Having been to Europe the last two years , I was used to using Rick Steve's guidebooks , so I needed to find an alternative for Japan . I ordered this book and picked up a copy of Frommer's Japan guidebook , but ended up taking the Lonely Planet guide with me to Japan . As I was reading both guides the night before my trip , I realized that the Lonely Planet guide had maps of the metro for both Tokyo and Kyoto ( it also had Osaka , but I didn't need that one for this trip ) and the Frommer's didn't have metro maps . You can always get the maps at train stations , but there's no guarantee they will be in English . It also called out in more detail the local things to do more so than the Frommer's which focused more on the must do things for tourists . If prefer to do a little of both when traveling and the Lonely Planet did a good job of covering the touristy things as well . The main reason why I give it four stars is because of the usefulness I got out of it while in Japan . I didn't give it 5 stars because some of the info , particularly prices , were a bit dated . I hauled this guidebook with me in my sling bag the whole 10 days of my trip and used it every few hours to find something to do or to reference directions . The information on which train / subway line to take and what station to get off at was EXTREMELY helpful . We used this info to find our way all over Tokyo and Kyoto . There is a Tokyo specific guide Lonely Planet publishes , but most of that info is covered in the Japan guide - - You do get a smaller footprint though .
    • 014 4  This is a perfectly fine book that give you a comprehensive overview of Japan and will help you get where you want to go . It does a decent enough job of preparing you for behaving yourself as a foreigner in this wonderful but nuanced country . I used this book on my recent trip to Hokkaido and I found coverage to be a little thin , but I think the aim of this book is to cover the major attractions and give you an overview of each region . It is a large country with a tremendous amount of cool things to see and do , which could result in a giant tome of a book . I think they could easily publish a title for each island and possibly each region , much as one might want a detailed guide book for each American state or Canadian province . I ended up doing a lot of detailed research on the internet , copying and pasting Japanese words for things when I could , which gave better results . I managed to make an onsen reservation this way at what turned out to be Noboribetsu , a well-known area covered in the book , but at a Ryokan not found in the book . I found the accommodation listings of the book to be pretty sparse . Again , it'll get the job done but there is so much more to discover on your own . In a way this is a good thing , as discovery is one of the best parts of traveling , and many LP readers have encountered the LP convergence zone or backpacker areas of major world destinations , where you end up surrounded by a bunch of LP-reading Australians . At the end of the day , there are not a ton of english-language resources to finding the more obscure nooks and crannies of this country . Bottom line is that this book is a useful guide that will get the job done . I did not use it for restaurant of night life recommendations , Japan is just chock a block with amazing food everywhere you go , you can pretty much just trust your instincts .
    • 015 4  I purchased this 10th edition after being quite disappointed with an older edition ( 6th or 7th ) when traveling Tohoku region by car in September 2007 with my husband . This edition does a much better job in providing enthusiastic , first-hand account about the region beyond the beaten path like Tokyo and Kyoto , which is a quality that I look forward for from the LP series in general . I am happy that we've upgraded the book for our upcoming Shikoku trip . Giving 4 stars , because , as a native Japanese speaker , I feel that the book still has a room for improvement ( for example , I feel that there are other activities beyond skiing that are great and more unique in Japan ) .
    • 016 4  It ` s not a bad guide , but it fails on many fronts . For starters , it never mentions a number of places which are not only well advertised , but also good value for money , which is very important to many of the younger travellers . My favourite place to stay - Shin Osaka youth hostel - wasn ` t included , even though I found it to be one of the two best places to stay at while in Japan . The information generally , and on food in particular , is often inaccurate , misleading or simply lacking - for example , Ichiran is implied to be as a Fukuoka ramen specialist , but it is actually a chain which exists throughout Japan , as I found out by stumbling across an outlet in Tokyo near Ueno station . Elsewhere , the section on Beppu fails to mention that Ichinoide Kaikan restaurant actually just serves warmed up Bento ( packed ) lunches instead of preparing food . Recommended places are hit-and-miss , and many fantastic places aren ` t given a mention . Even worse , everything that tastes good has to be either Sublime or Delectable , which continuously lead me to ponder over when exactly things stopped being , say , Delicious or Good when I was looking for places to eat . If the authors were trying to be pompous , they could have at least applied a thesauraus instead of using those two words over , and over , and over again ! In short , if you enjoy good food , you might have to do a little searching of your own when you travel . Also , be aware that this guide is geared towards the traveller interested in the more traditional Japan , as opposed to those who prefer its modern side . While there is some information on the modern attractions , the issue can be summed up by comparing the sections on closely situated Osaka and Kyoto . The section on more traditional Kyoto is several times longer than that on the more modern Osaka , even though to someone younger , like myself , Osaka deserves at least as many pages as Kyoto !
    • 017 4  We've travelled all over the world using Lonely Planet guide books , and we've had a great experience with them . The Japan book on the other hand was the most useless guide book I have ever seen . We would arrive in a bustling part of Tokyo , open the book , and it would say , just walk around , everything is good . I didn't spend $25 on a guidebook for that . The whole book seemed lazy , there were maps printed upside down , sights they write about and don't place on their maps and the most amazing things we did in Kyoto weren't in the book , we learned about them through our hostile . If you are going to Japan , don't buy this book , I would have preferred to have no book at all because I spent so much time frustrated at this book .
    • 018 4  This review is from : Japan ( Country Guide ) ( Paperback ) On my most recent trip to Japan I used brought the Lonely Planet Guide and the Rough Guide . The Lonely Planet Guide is better across the board . It provides better recommendations for hotels and restaurants , better and more detailed advice on sights , and far better information on logistics ( how to get places , whether to take the train or a bus , etc . ) . The Lonely Planet Guide is easier to use and , most importantly more likely to be accurate . The Rough Guide is ok ; if that is all you have , you will be fine . On the other hand , given that you have a choice , I'd go with Lonely Planet . All that said , the Lonely Planet Guide could use improvement . The section on Hokkaido is particularly thin - - not much information . On the other hand , there does not seem to be a guidebook for Hokkaido written in English . If you hear of one , please let me know .
    • 019 4  On my most recent trip to Japan I used brought the Lonely Planet Guide and the Rough Guide . The Lonely Planet Guide is better across the board . It provides better recommendations for hotels and restaurants , better and more detailed advice on sights , and far better information on logistics ( how to get places , whether to take the train or a bus , etc . ) . The Lonely Planet Guide is easier to use and , most importantly more likely to be accurate . The Rough Guide is ok ; if that is all you have , you will be fine . On the other hand , given that you have a choice , I'd go with Lonely Planet . All that said , the Lonely Planet Guide could use improvement . The section on Hokkaido is particularly thin - - not much information . On the other hand , there does not seem to be a guidebook for Hokkaido written in English . If you hear of one , please let me know .
    • 020 4  Lonely Planet excels as a detailed introduction to what you absolutely need to know before visiting Japan . From travel hints and special considerations you just may not thought about , this guide can be an essential piece of equipment in your travel arsenal . Many of the other reviews here spell out Lonely Planet's best qualities as an overall guide and are spot-on . However , as I read the same reviews prior to purchase and now have the benefit of spending a bit over a month in Japan to date , I can offer the following as additional considerations when considering your purchase of this book . First and foremost , a previous review mentions the rather ungainly size of the Lonely Planet Japan guide . I have found the text provides good reading at night but not always a best as a handy guide to and from sites throughout the day . It's best used as an encyclopedia of options to consider when planning your trip , and is comprehensive enough that you shouldn't need to go elsewhere for too much information . With that said , picking up a streamlined , secondary source for your day-to-day travels may not be a bad idea ( and , to some degree , the LP focused titles on specific geographies handle this - i.e . the Tokyo guide , etc . ) However , the maps are ill-suited for use when traveling on foot or as actual navigation tools . For this purpose I picked up a handy ( and very slim ) street atlas at a local bookstore which saved me many missteps , and had the added advantage of identifying many of the features the LP guide spoke of but were difficult to find otherwise . As I've spent nearly all my time in and around Tokyo , I've also found that the Tokyo section in general is a weaker re-write than found in previous LP guides , and covers essentially the same information . A 4th edition Tokyo guide written in 2001 served as a better companion , and the writing was friendlier , and seemed more connected with the actual sites . As Tokyo is quite vibrant and seems to be changing on the hour , I understand the challenge in keeping this section updated . However , it clearly seems in need of a re-write from a local's perspective - as written , it wasn't clear that the necessary time was spent in Tokyo to adequately update this section . Some descriptions seemed an attempt to capture the feeling of an area but lacked in the concrete details necessary for a traveler deciding whether or not to leave a particular site off her / his itinerary . With that said , as an overall guide to Japan consider LP a worthy look - it accomplishes what it sets out to do . For a more-focused travel companion , especially if only traveling to Tokyo , Kyoto , or other limited areas in Japan , the smaller guides will probably suffice nicely , and tend to cover many of the other travel generalities that you'll find ultimately helpful and informative for your trip .
    • 021 4  This Lonely Planet Guide is another copy of all the previous Japan guides with all the same disappointments . Coverage of areas outside of Tokyo and Kyoto is honestly rather shoddy , and they've kept the obnoxious negativity that makes an exciting trip to Japan seem like a waste of time . While other Lonely Planet guides are lively , with authors that seem to enjoy the travelling , Lonely Planet Japan's authors write as though they really don't like Japan . It is questionable whether or not the writers even visited the cities they are reviewing . This guide is probably most useful as a reference of places to look up on your own in another source .
    • 022 4  This book marks the newest printing of the Lonely Planet series of travel guides on Japan . In my experience with travel , these writers give the most thorough , useful reviews of almost anywhere that anyone would find interest in , with detailed and maps , directions , and things to look out for . A few notes , however ; if you are looking for a picture book , this is NOT for you , this travel guide will contain almost completely pragmatic information such as guides and maps , with very few pictures . Also , if you are looking to actually reside in Japan , you will want to find a guide for the specific city you are looking to live in from a book series not designed for tourists , as there are many cities which are not considered tourist's destinations which are thus omitted from this and most other travel guide titles . A must have for a first-time tourist to Japan .
    • 023 4  This review is from : Japan ( Country Guide ) ( Paperback ) There is a lot of information in this book , but with so much , it really needs to have a better index . We found ourselves using the DK book more .
    • 024 4  There is a lot of information in this book , but with so much , it really needs to have a better index . We found ourselves using the DK book more .
    • 025 4  I bought this guide to Japan as I was going to be traveling around for about two months . The guide , although not indispensible , provided good information about cheap accommodation , perfect for my budget , and other measures to conserve my budget and things to do . Following suggestions from the guidebook I had some of my most favourable experiences in Japan , including going to a free outdoor hot spring , where there were no other people . However , in many places the local tourist information offices are defenitely worth paying a visit , especially for maps , as the maps provided are not very clear nor detailed . I also found some of the places listed in the guide to have shut down . The guide provides some useful background information about the culture of Japan , different types of foods to try out , and various etiquette notices on hot springs and other essential activities . To conclude , the guide is a worthwhile buy , although in general it stays quite close to the tourist trail , and for the truly unique Japanese experiences off the beaten trail , very little is offered .
    • 026 4  Everything about modern and traditional Japan with emphasis on travel and living related information . . . . open source travel guide to Japan , featuring up-to-date information on attractions , hotels , restaurants , nightlife , travel tips and more
    • 027 4  Also found this book very useful ( can't compare either , still give 5 as I wasn't really missing anything ) . It has very comprehensive listings with good descriptions of sights , hotels , restaurants , bars and clubs in , to name only the places i had been , tokyo , kyoto , osaka and even in koyasan ( a little village in the mountains ) - it certainly gave me more than enough to cover in 7 days . The getting around sections were extremly useful ( public transport in japan can be a bit of an adventure , the book gives useful tips for example to pay the fare at the end of the journey ) . Another useful thing were the suggested routes at the beginning of the book . It didn't even suffer from the usual Lonely planet problem to miss out on more upscale places , the book has all the fancy hotels , restaurants , bars covered . Great buy !
    • 028 4  This book was only marginally useful . - The maps were ambiguous at best , and completely wrong at worst ( on multiple instances in multiple cities ) . - Descriptions of sights were often wrong or misleading ( don't bother with the Pentax Forum in tokyo . the address is wrong , and once you find it , it's completely lame ( old cameras , and you can't even play with stuff , contrary to the book ) - Does NOT have the actual cheapest budget hostels in Kyoto or Tokyo . - I didn't really like the writing style , but that's preference - the eating establishments they suggest are completely random and often not the best / cheapest / or most interesting . everyone i met traveling that had the rough guide was happy with it . in 20 / 20 hindsight i wish I had bought that book . everyone I met that had this book was equally disappointed .
    • 029 4  very informative and detailed . a necessary asset for japan vacation planning . i've used other guidebooks along with lonely planet but this is the only book i packed along in my luggage to the japan trip . i wish they had an electronic version though since it is also the heaviest and biggest .
    • 030 4  Although Lonely Planet has good contents about all the places to visit , the suggested walks aren't as good as others . The complete descripitions of all the places doesn't orientate first vists wiht don't live Tokyo withot . . suggestions . Terrible maps and no pictures make this guide a real bible . . not to talk about its size . . .
    • 031 4  This review is from : Lonely Planet Japan ( Paperback ) Just reading the book was a good background for me for travelling as a tourist in Japan ( this was a first trip to Asia ) . Only disappointment was it didn't cover the section of Osaka I stayed in - couldn't find anything on my hotel or the surrounding area though it's a large , famous hotel .
    • 032 4  Just reading the book was a good background for me for travelling as a tourist in Japan ( this was a first trip to Asia ) . Only disappointment was it didn't cover the section of Osaka I stayed in - couldn't find anything on my hotel or the surrounding area though it's a large , famous hotel .
    • 033 4  This review is from : Japan ( Country Guide ) ( Paperback ) Although I haven't still been to Japan , I like the book and feel that it supplies a lot of info - maybe even too much . The book also has Japanese writings for every place . It tries to give you info about accomodations for different budget . Again , as usually ( but few exceptions ) Lonely Planet is a good book to go .
    • 034 4  Although I haven't still been to Japan , I like the book and feel that it supplies a lot of info - maybe even too much . The book also has Japanese writings for every place . It tries to give you info about accomodations for different budget . Again , as usually ( but few exceptions ) Lonely Planet is a good book to go .
    • 035 4  My boyfriend and I used this book exclusively while we traveled from Okinawa to Hokkaido for five weeks this past summer . It really was a lifesaver - the only guidebook you need for Japan . We had JR passes and it gives lots of tips specifically for those using JRs . Highly recommended !
    • 037 4  I used this book religiously while traveling in Japan for three weeks . It helped me plan the trip before I got there and assisted me daily while in Japan . Highly recommended .
    • 038 4  The book is nice but I found there are more things to do in some cities than what it says in the book .
    • 039 4  Lots of good information in this book . However I did find that the size was annoying to carry around . I recently took a trip to Tokyo and I felt that if I could just the useful phrases out it would've been more useful . Perhaps I should've grabbed the Tokyo only version of the book . I plan on visiting the rest of Japan so I wanted to have that information too so I guess thats my fault . If you are JUST going to Tokyo get the Tokyo only book duh . : )
    • 040 4  This is extremely beneficial for what I will be doing around Japan . Thank you for the fast and great service .
    • 041 4  Good guidebook to have with you . Lots of hints and good places to eat .

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