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 www.amazon.com
). 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
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 amazon.com)
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 www.amazon.com web site.