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Gateway To Japan 3ed Paperback – Apr 1 1998

4.8 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 800 pages
  • Publisher: Kodansha Amer Inc; 3rd Revised edition edition (April 1 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 477002018X
  • ISBN-13: 978-4770020185
  • Product Dimensions: 18.8 x 3.3 x 13 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 658 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #552,031 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


"... 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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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
My friend and I bought this in a Tokyo bookstore during our trip. We had come equipped with a Lonely Planet guide, but found its perpetual bad attitude a huge drag.
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.
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By A Customer on Sept. 4 2002
Format: Paperback
I took this book with me to Japan and I was disappointed. There is plenty of detail about history, sumo wrestling, and art with little practical information. Plus I found errors in directions, maps etc. Here are my issues with this book.
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.
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Format: Paperback
This is my favourite guidebook to Japan. It's pretty chunky, and the shape is a little odd (Why so tall and thin?) but the information in here is just about the best you'll find. These two really love their subject and really love telling stories, too. Every time they describe a temple or shrine they try to give some interesting historical information about it. They also devote over a hundred pages at the beginning of the book to the history and culture of Japan. If that sounds like overkill, don't worry, it's all broken down into reader-friendly chunks, a page or two at a time. In the second part of the book, a region by region guide, they give plenty of suggestions for possible walks/half-day/full-day tours, etc. These are good for helping you plan out your trip in advance - no point in arriving and finding out that the place is three times the size you thought it was! Furthermore, the info. and maps are excellent. None of the scr! ibbled-out-on-napkin stuff here, we are talking graphic shading, altitude-showing, super-imposed-lay-out-displaying map-a-rama - OH BABY! LET'S KIOSK! Er...yes...well, the only possible bad things I can think of to say about this guide book is that the section on the whole of Japan north of Tokyo is a bit skinny, and it doesn't categorize the accomodation sections quite as clearly as, say, the Lonely Planet (see below). But that is a very minor point - overall, their accomodation info. is still just as extensive as any other guide.
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Format: Paperback
Quite simply the best guidebook I have found on Japan. I bought my copy 10 years ago and I am still using it today. Most other 10 year old guidebooks would have been garbage by now but Gateway to Japan remains timeless because the historical and cultural information on Japan is so well written it can be used as a mini introductory text book on Japan. Besides, historical information doesn't change that much with time.
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.
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