JAPAN TRAVEL GUIDE
Review by Barb & Ron Kroll
(Lonely Planet) ISBN 978-1741046670
Lonely Planet's Japan is a detailed guide to travel in Japan. It provides tourist information and advice on cities, regions, islands, Japanese history, culture, food and drink, tours, useful Japanese phrases, ski information, travel health and eight itineraries.
The 868-page guide book divides Japan into Tokyo and nine regions. Each regional section details the cities, sights and activities, festivals and events, where to eat and drink, where to stay and how to get there.
Manga and anime
Detailed, with black tab edges for each region, Lonely Planet Japan introduces readers to Japanese culture, with sidebars on manga (Japanese comics), anime (animated cartoons), eating etiquette, tea culture and onsen (hot bath).
The front of the guidebook features a colorful map of Japan and pictures of twenty Japanese highlights. They include Todai-ji, the largest wooden building in the world, hiking in the Japan Alps with stays in mountain huts and the Japanese castle, Himeji-jo.
Black and white maps of regions and detailed city street maps have legends with Japanese characters for English terms and place names.
Readers learn that Nihon ryori (Japanese cuisine) consists of more than sushi, tempura or sukiyaki. Rice, the staple of the Japanese diet, is accorded respect with words like o-kome (raw, uncooked), go-han (cooked Japanese-style), raisu (cooked Western-style), hakumai (plain white rice), genmai (unpolished, unrefined brown rice) and onigiri (rice balls).
The Food and Drink section of the Japan guidebook describes menu specialties in various types of Japanese restaurants — izakaya (pubs), shokudo (inexpensive restaurants, typically near train stations with plastic food displayed in windows) and noodle shops, which sell soba (thin, brown buckwheat noodles) and udon (thick, white wheat noodles). Useful Japanese words and phrases, such as mizu (water) and o-kanjo (the bill), help with ordering and bill payment.
Sidebars provide information on English language newspapers in Japan (Japan Times, Daily Yomiuri and Asahi Shimbun) and brewery tours (Sapporo Beer-En and Hokkaido Brewery).
The Glossary defines Japanese words like ken (prefecture), bangasa (rain umbrella made from oiled paper), basho (sumo tournament), meishi (business cards) and tosu (toilet).
For visitors concerned about the cost of travel to Japan, Lonely Planet Japan includes sample daily budgets and lists of inexpensive places to stay (e.g., capsule hotels), travel passes (e.g., Japan Rail Pass), cheap things to eat (e.g., bento box lunches and ramen noodles) and low cost shops (e.g., Hyaku-en or 100-yen shops).
Hot spring baths
The chapter on onsen (hot spring, or hot water) describes the Japanese bath experience as a primary part of Japanese culture. Japan has more than 3,000 onsen. The guidebook describes Japan's best onsen in categories - inner city, island, riverside, town, hidden, semitropical, beach, mountain, sand bath, do it yourself, ryokan and ski town.
A map shows their locations. Guidelines summarize how to take a relaxing onsen bath, including onsen etiquette (washing your body before soaking in the pools or tubs).
- The Authors
- Getting Started
- The Culture
- The Onsen
- Skiing in Japan
- Food and Drink
- Around Tokyo
- North of Tokyo
- West of Tokyo
- South of Tokyo
- East of Tokyo
- Central Honshu
- Around Nagoya
- Hida District
- Japan Alps National Park
- Northern Kansai
- Around Nara
- Western Honshu
- The Inland Sea
- Northern Honshu
- Do-nan (Southern Hokkaido)
- Do-o (Central Hokkaido)
- Do-hoku (Northern Hokkaido)
- Do-to (Eastern Hokkaido)
- Northwest Islands
- Shimabara Peninsula
- Okinawa and the Southwest Islands
- Behind the Scenes
- World Time Zones
- Map Legend
Chris Rowthorn, Ray Bartlett, Andrew Bender, Michael Clark, Matthew D. Firestone, Timothy N. Hornyak, Wendy Yanagihara
Chris Rowthorn, coordinating author, has lived in Kyoto since 1992 and has written or contributed to three other guidebooks for Lonely Planet. He runs walking tours of Kyoto, Nara and Tokyo.
More things to see and do in Japan:
Tokyo Encounter by Lonely Planet
Tokyo Hotels and Travel Packages