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The Rough Guide to Japan, Third Edition Paperback – January 27, 2005

3.3 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

The holiday-makers' favourite guidebook series The Sunday Times Travel Magazine --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

When to go

In an archipelago stretching over 3000km from north to south you'd expect the average temperature and weather patterns to vary greatly. The main influences on the climate on Honsh0 are the mountains and surrounding warm seas, bringing plenty of rain and snow. Winter weather differs greatly, however, between the western Sea of Japan and the Pacific coasts, the former suffering cold winds and heavy snow while the latter tends towards dry, clear winter days. Regular heavy snowfalls in the mountains provide ideal conditions for skiers.

Despite frequent showers, spring is one of the most pleasant times during which to visit Japan, when the weather reports chart the steady progress of the cherry blossom from warm Kyushu in March to colder Hokkaido around May. A rainy season (tsuyu) during June ushers in the swamp-like heat of summer; if you don't like tropical conditions, head for the cooler hills or the northern reaches of the country. A bout of typhoons and more rain in September precede autumn, which lasts from October through to late November and is Japan's most spectacular season, when the maple trees explode into a range of brilliant colours.

Also worth bearing in mind when planning your visit are Japan's national holidays. During such periods as the days around New Year, the "Golden Week" break of April 28 to May 6 and the Obon holiday of mid-August, the nation is on the move making it difficult to secure last-minute transport and hotel bookings. Avoid travelling during these dates, or make your arrangements well in advance. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Series: Rough Guide Travel Guides
  • Paperback: 1056 pages
  • Publisher: Rough Guides; 3 edition (January 27, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843532727
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843532729
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.3 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,193,096 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
It is an uphill struggle to get me to praise a Rough Guide. I have written many unkind words here about many other books in the series - dull righting, self-righteous tone, preachy ambition - and I stand by what I had said. I continue to feel that travel is a happy business and guidebooks should be written by people who are positive and cheerful, not by grumpy and cruffy backpackers with enormous aptitude for righting the world and with handfuls of easy answers to every question of Third World economic developent. I am also convinced that a guide is not a forum for political campaigning.
So you can imagine I approached Rough Guide Japan with very, very low expectations. However, I can now say that whatever is wrong with other Rough Guides (poor writing quality, excruciating boredom, naive anti-capitalist rhetoric), you will not find it in this book. Whatever they do right (detailed research, up-to-date info, accurate maps) - there is plenty of it, heaps, loads, all you need! My God they are good. In Japan, they are better than DK Eyewitness, my long-time favorite for most destinations. They even finally sorted their writing - it is readable, and you don't fall asleep after first three passages.
I find very little to fault in this book: the maps are accurate, listings exhaustive and detailed, and they have most of the practicalities covered, unlike Lonely Planet, who still live firmly in their senile eigthties as far as any transport and banking information is concerned. And let me repeat this (listen all of you who, like me, detested Rough Guides for their oversized egos and belief that they have a role in fixing the world) - there is no usual garbage about how capitalism and tourism ruined a beautuful country. All the annoying whining is gone.
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Format: Paperback
Although I tend to favour Lonely Planet over the Rough Guide, in the case of Japan, the Rough Guide is definitely preferable, and this is increasingly the case now that the latest edition of the Lonely Planet has cut coverage of lots of off-the-beaten-track areas. The Rough Guide to Japan has the edge is conveying the feel of the places covered. I have lived in Japan for more than two years and the guide was practical and sensible on my first trips to Hiroshima and Kyoto - I still find it informative and helpful when I travel around the country now, after substantial experience of Japan. One caveat - while the coverage of such cultural sites as temples and castles is very thorough, the author is obviously not that interested in painting or sculpture. Museum after museum is dismissed for being overpriced, often when the entrance fees are, by Japanese standards, really very reasonable (600 yen or so). Some readers might be put off visiting interesting museums by this bias.

Japan is a fascinating and frustrating country. So much of its natural beauty and traditional architecture has been destroyed, but it remains an endlessly intriguing place. It deserves more visitors than it gets, but many people are put off by two main difficulties: expenses, and the scarcity of English speakers, especially outside the main cities. The Rough Guide gives useful tips on reasonably priced and pleasant accommodation; I have rarely been disappointed by a hotel or traditional inn they recommend. It also gives detailed explanations of how to get around off the beaten track, which should ease the path for the non-Japanese speaker. Newcomers and veterans alike should have few complaints.
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Format: Paperback
The Rough Guide is hands down the best travel guide on Japan. The writing is fresh and informative, the practical information is up to date and helpful, and the data is accurate. For the amount of material covered, the depth is amazing ... From Hokkaido to the islands of Okinawa you can navigate the entire country with just this book. And not just "navigate", but plan what to see, where to eat, and where to stay with a variety of options.
The main complaints previous reviewers have concern the occasional mistake and the lack of pictures. Of course, when you try to summarize an entire country in a thousand pages there will be mistakes and omissions, and of course information will go out of date. Which is why you should always double check your sources, or be prepared to roll with the punches. Most places have websites and even the smallest cities in Japan have at least a little bit of tourist information in English. If you're spending the time and money to come all the way to Japan, what does it hurt to spend a little bit of extra time on the internet double checking the details on places you want to see.
The same goes for pictures. Personally, I'd rather wait until I get to a place and see for myself what something looks like, but when it comes to pictures (or maps) the internet is a treasure trove of information.
No matter how well you plan things, there will always be hangups. Traffic is bad. A place you want to see is taking the day off. A bar you want to go to has closed its doors. The best you can do is get as much information ahead of time and hope for the best. From my experience living in Japan, if you are going to rely on one main source for your travel information in Japan, use the Rough Guide. It's better than anything else out there.
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