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Guide books (whole Japan, specific areas and special topics)
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PostYou have posted in this forum: Sun Jul 09, 2006 12:02 pm Back to top

One I'd like to add to the list:

The Rough Guide to Japan
by Simon Richmond & Jan Dodd

   NEW EDITION : March 2008

The Rough Guide to Japan is a book similar to the Lonely Planet Japan, but different, as it offers more up-to-date info on things to see and do and in a style that makes it apealing to both starting and experienced travelers.
I've had the opportunity to compare the latest editions of LPJ and RGJ to their preceding issues, and where Lonely Planet apparently doesn't bother to update some of the information, Rough Guide does, and offers a neatly written book for every English speaker on the planet, where Lonely Planet primarily aims at American travelers and their habits.
It's as thick as the LPJ, slightly heavier and has over 200 pages more. The paper is thinner than the paper used for the LPJ, but it already survived one trip, so I'd like to think it's as sturdy as the LPJ, which survived some snow and rain in an open backpack during Winter Comiket 2004.

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PostYou have posted in this forum: Mon Jan 22, 2007 6:59 am Back to top

I just had the opportunity to check the Rough Guide recommended by Kaj: it is an excellent guide, significantly more comprehensive than the Lonely Planet (which so far was the best for me). It especially describes many places that are really off the beaten tracks! I will buy this book and strongly recommend it.

There are only two things I dislike a little: there are less maps than in the Lonely Planet, and the price of the hotels and ryokan is only given as a range (for example: 5000-7000 yens).

Last edition seems to be 2 years old, but even if the Lonely Planet on Japan is reprinted on regular basis, it is not really updated. I have encountered several times problems with restaurants recommended by the Lonely Planet (typically : the restaurant disappeared 3 years before my visit...).


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PostYou have posted in this forum: Wed Feb 28, 2007 8:14 am Back to top

I tend to evaluate Japan guidebooks according to the thickness of their Hokkaido Section, and so far Lonely Planet (and its Hiking in Japan derivate) and the Rough Guide rule among them all. I still think Northern Japan and Hokkaido are significantly less studied than other regions such as the Kansai or even Chubi areas in these books.

If I had the opportunity, I would be glad to write a guide entirely devoted to Hokkaido! Very Happy

--> my travelog
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PostYou have posted in this forum: Fri Dec 03, 2010 3:02 pm Back to top

A small update to underline that The Rough Guide to Japan (Rough Guides) has been republished, the latest edition dating from the March 2008. I just had this new edition a couple of minutes in my hand, but it seems that significant updates have been made.

I take the opportunity to mention that it might be a little difficult to get used to the Rough Guides when you are used to the Lonely Planet, as the structure of the guides is quite different. But still, by the large amount of extra information found in the Rough Guide - at least for the one about Japan, it is really worth the effort!


Last edited by sanji on Fri Dec 03, 2010 3:02 pm; edited 1 time in total

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PostYou have posted in this forum: Thu May 08, 2008 4:36 am Back to top

Do you know what is the nearest place from Yokohama where you can find The Rough Guide to Japan ? I bet Kinokuniya in Shunjuku has it, but do you know any spot in Shibuya or even Yokohama ?

I have a six years old LPJ edition and I was thinking about getting a new one someday : The Rough Guide seems to be a good alternative. Wink

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PostYou have posted in this forum: Thu May 08, 2008 11:12 am Back to top

I would clearly recommend You can find the book here for 2,943 yen, which is cheaper than in bookshops. Plus, they deliver for free if you order is more than 1600 yen...


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PostYou have posted in this forum: Fri Dec 03, 2010 3:05 pm Back to top

A new, exciting news in the world of travel guides...

Lonely Planet started to sell their travel books as pdf file. Even better, you can buy only specific chapters!

Here is the list of chapters for the Lonely Planet Japan, with the corresponding prices in euro :

History, Culture & Skiing - €1.00
Tokyo - €4.00
Around Tokyo - €2.25
Central Honshu - €2.75
Kansai - €5.00
Western Honshu - €2.25
Northern Honshu - €2.75
Hokkaido - €2.50
Shikoku - €1.25
Kyushu - €2.75
Okinawa & the Southwest Islands - €2.25
Directory, Transport & Health - €1.00
Language & Glossary - €1.00

There is a 20% discount if you buy 3-4 guides, and 35% discount if you buy 5 or more!

The chapter "Getting Started & Itineraries" is available for free download, and attached to this message.

Of course, the total cost for the whole guide as a pdf file would cost about 20 euros, and you will have to print it by yourself, but if you just need a specific chapter, this is a great deal, as you won't have to carry a full book on Japan to just visit Hokkaido Wink

Check this Lonely Planet link for more details.

The chapter "Getting Started & Itineraries" is available for free download

 Filename:  japan-10-getting-started.pdf
 Filesize:  1.18 MB
 Downloaded:  3652 Time(s)

Last edited by sanji on Fri Dec 03, 2010 3:05 pm; edited 1 time in total

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PostYou have posted in this forum: Tue Sep 15, 2009 10:46 am Back to top

1.) There is a new edition of the LP guide hiking in Japan! July 2009 (i.e. already the 2nd now). It has more details and better descriptions. I can only recommend it. I used it several times and always found my way Wink
Image 1287

2.) For those in Tokyo: There is a completely new map to discover Japan's capital city. It's actually a start-up company in Switzerland that worked closely together with local guides in order to come up with, what they call a TOKYO "A LA CARTE" map. It's pretty cheap (€10) and consists of one map, an index with the description about how to find the bars, etc and and online data base. It also features a detailed map of Shimo-Kitazawa.

Image 1289

Here the Link: My Tokyo à la Carte

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PostYou have posted in this forum: Fri Dec 03, 2010 3:07 pm Back to top

This thread has been created to list all recommended books for travellers in Japan.

It includes guide books for the whole country, for specific areas (like Tokyo guides) and for special topics (ryokan, onsen, ...)

Here are some guide books that I would strongly recommend (all are available on and Please add yours.

Lonely Planet Japan
by Chris Rowthorn, Ray Bartlett, Justin Ellis et al.

   LAST EDITION (11th) : October 2009

The reference: a very thick book that provide enough information for 99% of the travellers... Updated usually every 24 months, it is really comprehensive and gives lot of information on hotels and restaurants. The only problem is... the weight of the book: it would be better to have made three different volumes, as there is no point of carrying many pages on Hokkaido while travelling in Okinawa...

Eyewitness Travel Guides - Japan
by DK Publishing

   LAST EDITION : August 2007

Although much less comprehensive that the Lonely Planet, this guide is extremely useful if you do not stay a long time in Japan. It focuses on the most popular areas of Japan, and provides limited but straight information. It especially has great "3D maps" of most interesting areas and monuments, which makes your visit much easier...
The hotel and restaurant part is however really weak.

Hiking in Japan (Lonely Planet Walking Guides)
by Mason Florence, et al

LAST EDITION (11th) : July 2009

The reference guide if you plan to hike in Japan. 71 hikes were described in the first edition, and this is the second one. From short and easy day-trip walks to long treks in remote areas. Very clear maps and lots of indications on public transportation.

Road atlas Japan
by Shobunsha

Strongly recommended if you plan to drive in Japan. Although most cars have a navigation system, it is usually only in Japanese. This atlas is bilingual English/Japanese, and displays also many information: interesting spots, scenic roads, roads that might be close due to weather or winter, etc.

Weekend Adventures Outside Tokyo
by Tae Moriyama

(pictures from

One of the most useful guide I have seen so far! Lists many interesting areas that can be reached in a 1-day or 2-days trip from Tokyo (including Kamakura, Hakone, Nikko, Izu, Kawagoe, Chichibu, Shiobara, Kiso-ji, and many other less touristic places). Originality of the guide, it is not really just listing attractions, but rather proposes some itineraries that includes historical and scenic places. The author shares a lot of his personal feeling about the places he visits, making the reading extremely pleasant and interesting.
Unfortunately, this book was last revised in 1998, and there are some discrepancies now... It is still a great book to discover a little more of the Kanto area.

Tokyo for Free
by Susan Pompian

You think Tokyo is an expensive city? Think again! With this book in your hands, you will find hundreds of idea to discover Tokyo... for free (well, usually you still have to pay for the subway). It includes parks, buildings, view points, sports, culture, etc. I would strongly recommend this book for people living in Tokyo, as it would give you good ideas to do things that are not in the average guide book.
This book was published in 1998, and things have changed: there are small mistakes in it.

Classic Japanese Inns and Country Getaways
by Margaret Price

Some of the best ryokan in Japan are found in this book! Unfortunetely, many ryokan described in it are really expensive, often reaching more than 15'000 yens per person. If you plan however to stay at least one night in a really nice ryokan, this book will help you to select a good one, analyzing everthing from history of the ryokan to food, and including of course onsen.
Probably not for you if you try to travel on a tight budget.

Japan's Hidden Hot Springs
by Robert Neff

This book does not focus on the onsen themselves, but more on the ryokan which have great onsen. It is an excellent book if you plan to stay in ryokan while in Japan.

A Guide to Japanese Hot Springs
by Anne Hotta with Yoko Ishiguro

Despite being written in 1986, this book is extremely useful for onsen lovers! It describes onsen towns or areas, rather than specific hotels or ryokan, focusing on the history and the type of water. Onsen from all parts of Japan are covered. There is unfortunately no ranking system, so it might be difficult for readers to decide where to go first. Also, in our opinion, the healing powers of the waters are over-emphasized.

expect where indicated, all pictures of the covers are from the web site.

Last edited by sanji on Fri Dec 03, 2010 3:07 pm; edited 4 times in total

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PostYou have posted in this forum: Wed Dec 01, 2010 5:07 pm Back to top

Hi Secret-Japan users,

I've been trying to help out as much as I can with questions on this forum for a while now, and I am proud to announce that I have finally published a unique Japan travel guide of my own.

Yes, Japan is expensive, and yes, its unique culture can be intimidating for travelers. The secret to a successful trip to Japan is not how much money you spend and how much you tighten your budget, but how you maximize the return on your investment. You need to travel SMART, not CHEAP, though they do often coincide. With today’s favorable exchange rate, now is the time to visit Japan!

In my book, “All-You-Can Japan: Getting the Most Bang For Your Yen”that is now out and can be purchased through my website,, or directly from the eStore, (Amazon), I provide you with a SMART Japan travel strategy (including many useful Japanese phrases).

Download the first chapter for free from to get a sneak preview!

Josh Shulman

Lived, worked, and traveled in Japan for over a decade combined.
Author of All-You-Can Japan - Getting the Most Bang For Your Yen
Website: All-You-Can Japan Homepage
Blog: All-You-Can Japan Blog
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