Customer Review

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great travel guide to Japan, May 3, 2010
This review is from: Lonely Planet Discover Japan (Travel Guide) (Paperback)
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My wife and I are seasoned Japan travelers (and occasional tour guides). We lived in the Tohoku region for a year and have visited Japan once or twice a year for over a decade, so we know our way around and have visited a lot of places. We both agree that Lonely Planet's "Discover Japan" is a great guidebook for anyone traveling to Japan.

The book is divided into sections and are filled with the main highlights and attractions for each destination. The book is well organized, starting with the places most tourists will likely visit (Tokyo/Kanto area and Kyoto/Kansai area).

This latest edition is very up-to-date, featuring current photos of what you can expect when visiting Japan, as well as recent currency conversion rates and prices. All too often I look at travel guides to Japan full of photos taken 25 years ago--that is not the case here. And one of the things I like about this book is the directory at the end of the book, which gives information on food, history, and culture, as well as good, sound travel advice. I found it to be full of the exact same things I would say to people I'd be taking around and it's a good insight into what to expect when traveling to what can be, despite its modern, Western appearance, a very foreign country.

My biggest complaint about this book is the lack of directions or even a decent rail map for the greater Tokyo metropolitan area. If you're not going on a tour to Japan, most, if not all, of your travel will be done via Japan's extensive rail network, and it can be confusing, if not overwhelming, to attempt to visit the places listed here without some idea of how to get there. I'd suggest downloading the free English language map from the JR (Japan Railways) website if you'll be using this book as your guide. It'll give you a better idea of how to plan your days without hopping all over and wasting precious time.

Also, I'd like to note that this book doesn't give a lot of suggestions for restaurants or eateries and the reason for that is simple: the best places to eat in Japan aren't five-star restaurants. They're hole-in-the-wall, mom-and-pops establishments where recipes have been handed down for generations and have evolved into near perfection. I often find that some of the best places I've eaten at cost me less than $15 for a meal...with the exception of sushi. The food industry is so cutthroat in Japan that if I'd eaten at a small restaurant where the food was terrible, odds were it wouldn't be there when I went back. My general rule of thumb: If there's a crowd of Japanese people eating there, chances are it's good.

So if you're planning a trip to Japan, get this book to fill your itinerary. It's a huge, diverse country with lots of scenic, historic spots, and this book does a great job of listing the highlights. From shopping to temples to gardens to nature hikes, "Discover Japan" is a great place to start discovering Japan.
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