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This review refers to the 4th edition published in 2008
I have always preferred the rough guide series when traveling and this didn't disappoint, as always it's well written and very informative. I love the sections they do on History and Religion, beliefs and rituals and how it put the thing you'll se on your trip in to context.
Japan if you've never been before can seem like a very overwhelming place to visit, the 32 things not to miss is a great place to start planning your trip. While some of the suggestions seem a bit too far out of the way for a 2 week tourist, it reminded us that we'd left Sumo off our itinerary!
Each section has details on food, accommodation and highlights in the area, covering Tokyo; Around Tokyo; Northern Honshu; Hokkaido; Honshu; Kyoto & Nara; Kansai; Western Honshu; Shikoku; Kyushu and Okinawa. It would have been more helpful if the accommodation section was organized by area, but posit note helped us here. But all areas are covered fairly equally and comprehensively.
The basics section covers getting there; Getting around; Accommodation; Food and drink; The media; Festivals; Sports and outdoor activities; Culture and etiquette; Shopping; Traveling with children and Travel essentials.
Giving information on when the local holidays are-thus things are more expensive, when the best times to visit are, (avoid new year and Golden Week and try to see the cherry blossom-so beautiful)
This book is full of grownup things to do, so might not be best for teenagers traveling.
The small language section at the back is very useful covering grammar and pronunciations well, but remember that Japanese is written in a different alphabet so some people you ask for help may not understand if you just show them a book. I would recommend taking another language book as well.
Downsides; The maps can be a bit small and confusing,.
For the enthusiast there are sections on Manga & anime, but I can't comment on how comprehensive these are
If you don't want to spend the money the rough guide website has some of the books highlights.
Stuff you'll want to know...
About £12 from Amazon.
19 x 13 x 3.8 cm