Eyewitness Travel Guides Japan Flexibound – Aug 26 2003
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Top Customer Reviews
I first discovered these books (a series Eyewitness Travel) by accident. The photos and desicriptions and cutaway drawings are excellent. Plus they throw in some history and details on the art and many other things of interest including places to eat. A solid effort - lots of stuff to see and absorb. What is attractive about this book is that it pulls a lot of things together such as history and culture and urban areas. But the book brings it all to life with just magnificent photos and maps.
Jack in Toronto
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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 :)
Another nice plus I have found is the size of this guide. This book is narrower than the other guides, and I can slip it into an oversize coat pocket. That may seem silly, but it makes the book a bit more handy.
I suppose the downside is that this is a guide to JAPAN. It is not the most comprehensive guide to Tokyo and Kyoto. (Trying to do both is probably unreasonable for any book.) So if you are going to spend more than a week in Tokyo or Kyoto, and going full out every day, then you will eventually exhaust the details of this guidebook. In that case, I would recommend you pick up a city guide for those locations. Also, as someone who has spent a lot of time in Hokkaido, I find the section devoted to the northern island to be too brief.
If you are traveling around Japan, or even considering traveling to around Japan, this is a wonderful guidebook. But if you will ONLY be going to Tokyo or Kyoto, much of this guide will be wasted, and it may not be your best option. But if you are visiting the two big cites and other parts of Japan, , you can always pair this with another guidebook.
I have found the best use for this book is to read this ETG and another guide [Frommer's online] in advance. Then when I travel I bring this one with me, and pick up some of the local tourist guides.
After reading this I read another book on Amazon called "No Elbow Room" by Kenneth Andrews, and found that one totally amazing. It took me so much further into the Japanese culture and business world. The 2 books together really made me feel like I knew Japan.
It doesn't reveal to you only the most popular or famous places, but also tells you about more well-kept secrets in the Japanese countryside. One example is the Buddha hiking trail in Kamakura; it's not a major attraction (though the Buddha it leads to is), but it's a great hiking trail, and the guide lets you know to look for it. Also, the Japan guide magnifies streets for you in town and city maps... for instance, Eastern Gion in Kyoto is a district made up of a warren of small streets, but there are a lot of sights to see there, including temples, pagodas, shrines, antique shops, and old unpaved roads. The Japan Guide gives you a magnification of that part of the map, showing clearly what roads intersect with other roads and pointing out the places of interest.
Definitely a worthy investment if you're planning a trip to Japan. This colorful, extensive, informative guide will give you info on practically all aspects of your trip - places both famous and obscure, food, hotels, shopping, transportation... and you'll absorb a lot of info reading it.
You probably still need to do a lot of research online if you want to find off-the-beaten path spots. For example, if you want to stay in a Buddhist temple in Koyasan you get more info from the web. But this is always the case if you want the most up-to-date information. By the way, I highly recommend checking japan-guide.com.