Okay, my title's pretty ridiculous, I know. What lonely planet has to offer as far as Japan goes, is a nice little overview of cities in Japan, they can let you know some big places you want to go to in each city to get a nice feel. Maybe you want to plan out some big things, and leave some time so you can go to the tourist offices in each city and talk to someone who actually knows what they're talking about. This means the book isn't much more useful than their website. Speaking of websites, why are these articles so small and uninformative even on e-books when you don't really need to worry about fitting everything onto a set number of pages. A common issue is a lack of information, I was told about Osaka that I just needed to walk around and long aimless walks would be rewarding. Was that written by a person who has ever been to Japan? Long aimless walks are the easiest way to end up in a residential district with no end in sight. Partially thanks to that, but also thanks to my love of weird buildings, I went to Shinseikai (where Tsutenkaku Tower is) which was definitely interesting, but one of the worst places in Japan... Especially when you consider that there's a strong Yakuza influence outside of that area (not that it matters THAT much). So we returned thinking Osaka was kinda dumpy which isn't really fair to all the nice open Kansai-jin.
The bigger issue I take with this book is that it is the biggest wealth of information they have about the entire country, yet they make some small places seem very unappetizing or leave them out together. They made Tanegashima seem like it was the least interesting place in all of Japan, along with other former Ryukyu islands, failing to mention that they're beautiful and have a wealth of interesting natural beauty, and Tanegashima once a year has a festival to celebrate being the first place in Japan to have the arquebus. Thanks for the tip?
Lastly, how exactly are we getting around Japan? It's a bit lazy to assume everyone just picked up (or could pick up) a rail pass and even weirder when it seems we were supposed to be driving along the way too. For Shikoku I'm pretty sure we're supposed to travel in the motion that pilgrims take on Ohenro... really? so beautiful islands off the coast of Kyushu are nothing special but you think your readers are going to do Ohenro?! Even with that, there's little indication of atmosphere or how large or small a city is. There's either no or very little mention of markets, ones that have been open for ages. No mention if there are restaurants around that will be open at night or if you need to go get breakfast there.
My honest advice is that you need to be really savy in order to travel Japan, and that savyness isn't just innate in some people, go with recommendations of what ryokan or guest houses to stay in, use those places websites to find others, and soon you'll see that a lot of cheap great accommodation in Japan are operating at only about 3 degrees of separation. I would recommend using the website as a resource for planning all of this, but the book just doesn't hold up as being more necessary or helpful.