This book is, hands down, the greatest travel guide that I have ever used. With breathtaking photos, incredibly useful illustrations, and great information relating to cultural and historical context, it provides a fantastic reference for any traveler. I don't really understand the complaints of others who stated that it had to be used with other guides and that it didn't condense the information into the "you have one day in Tokyo - this is what you must see" format. Seeing as how a travel guide is exactly that; a guide - a tool to be used in conjunction with other resources, I feel that some may have expected too much. While this book may not be as textually comprehensive as other travel guides, most of those read like stereo instructions - this book, on the other hand, does not bore the reader and is rich with poignant detail. I survived on a solo trip to Japan using this guide and, while it is true that I utilized other resources, that's half the fun of traveling - getting out there and talking to people, finding out what to do and how to do it. Which leads me to my second aforementioned point - no, this book does not say "here's what you should do if you have 15 minutes in Kyoto". I can't stand such books and don't comprehend our societal gravitation towards such instructional material. To me it shows that we are becoming lazy and want others to tell us what to do as opposed to make decisions for ourselves. Which leads me to my final point: this book is great and easily holds the reader's interest but, because it is not one of the types of books that I have begrudgingly discussed, it is not intended to be used as a sole means of guidance. Therefore, while this book is tremendously useful during one's travels, I would recommend purchasing it in advance and using it as a research springboard during one's trip planning. Trust me, you will not be disappointed.
P.S. I frequently read sections out of this book; it is quite interesting even when not engaged in travel.
And, on a final note: Japan is the most spectacular place that I have ever traveled to. It is a nation that is lusciously rich with vivid beauty and fascinating culture. It has such an intriguing history and the people are absolutely phenomenal. If you stumbled upon this review because you are simply thinking about going, I vehemently encourage you to take the plunge, hop on a plane, and get over there! Oh yeah, and buy this book before you do :)