Gateway To Japan 3ed Paperback – Apr 1 1998
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"... excellent bilingual maps.... If I could take only one guide with me, this would be the one." -- Book World
"... get the book for the front essays on art, castles, history, matsuri, and my favorite ... 'One-hour Japanese.' " -- Tokyo Journal
"It is the guide I wish I had to help me know what I was seeing." -- The Explorers Journal
"The fire and flavor of Japan pour from these pages...." -- Knight-Ridder News Service
"We've tried very hard to find something ... left out of their wide-ranging guide, but we've failed...." -- Traveller's Bookstore
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Top Customer Reviews
The locations described range from standard tourist attractions to out of the way treasures that give the traveller a comprehensive sense of Japan. We used this guide as we travelled all over Honshuu (the main island)to several famous large (i.e. Tokyo, Kyoto) and small lesser-known cities (i.e. Kakunodate, Dewasanzan). The book gave us indispensible insight into each city, and attracted us to incredible places we no doubt would never have seen if we stuck with Lonely Planet.
The book includes housing accomodation and food recommendations, with valuable cultural information for each town.
I highly recommend this book for its thoughtful and detailed representation of Japan. The information was accurate and helpful, both for basic survival purposes and for a greater historical and cultural context for each town.
1) The coverage of how to use the train system is horrible. There is more than just the JR system, much more. Don't buy the rail pass unless you plan to do major traveling all over. It skips things like basic ticket purchasing, transfer tickets, what the signs mean when red/green/black/flashing, how to get on and off a platform etc. Did you know that English speaking rail people or even the police wear a red badge on their shoulder to indicate they speak English? These are the sorts of things this book misses.
2) Restaurant/places are described in the text and numbered like they should be on the corresponding map, but then aren't always. This happened at least 3 times in Tokyo, and once in Hakone that I can recollect off the top of my head.
3) The maps leave a lot to be desired. There is no coherence between maps. It was hard to even make this book work with the map book I bought.
4) Better coverage of how to get to or even spot subway stations would have been nice. I also didn't like how if you weren't at a specific starting place, it was hard to get to another destination because the directions only came in one form and again, the maps aren't much help here.
Overall, some of the details the book covers on history and such were nice to have once you got somewhere, but the practical information such as how to get around was severely lacking. I don't recommend this book. I bought it cause it had a 5 star rating. I gave it 1 star to bring that down to a more appropriate 2-3 star rating.
I also found the decision to use photographs sparingly in the guide book an ingenious decision. I have seen too many people decide whether to visit a site based on a crummy photo in their crummy guidebook. In my experiences with other guidebooks, very often good pics make bad places look good and bad pics make good places look bad. Better to describe all the sites in words as accurately as possible and let the reader visualize his or her own preconceptions before the travel. This is what makes Gateway to Japan so good a guide.
Most recent customer reviews
Gateway to Japan is more than a mere guidebook. In fact, even though the book is outdated, the information is still relevant. Read morePublished on Aug. 12 2006 by Chouster
Having lived in Japan for the past 6 years, I've had the opportunity to use all of the major guidebooks (and quite a few of the minor ones as well), and without a doubt, the most... Read morePublished on Jan. 19 2003 by T. Hooper
This book has everything...history of the country, essays on architectural styles, religion, festivals, Inn and bath ettiquete, language, and very extensive hotel,... Read morePublished on Dec 7 2002 by Hawaiiluce
After four and a half years living in Japan , five return trips and purchases of many guide books of uneven quality I was delighted to come across "Gateway to Japan". Read morePublished on Sept. 25 2002 by Nancy
I used this book when I lived in Japan in the early 1990's -- the Fodor's and Lonley Planet gathered dust on my bookshelf. Read morePublished on Aug. 16 2002 by Rhonda
I went to Japan on business for 8 days, and found this book very helpful. Repeatedly gave good advice on sights to see (and traps to avoid), as well as good advice on traveling... Read morePublished on July 27 2002
It seems like every really, really good book about Japan has the name Kodansha on it. That has become the mark of quality that I look for. Read morePublished on April 23 2002 by Zack Davisson
I recently completed a 19 day trip to Kyoto and Tokyo. If there is a perfect comprehensive guide to Japan I have yet to find it, despite buying 6 of them. Read morePublished on March 8 2002 by Scott Williams
I read many reviews of Japan guidebooks and bought severalof them. This book was, by far, the best. Read morePublished on Dec 19 2001 by Silver Springer