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4.1 out of 5 stars
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 12 September 2006
I have just come back from a month long trip to japan, This book saved my behind on many occasions, but without any other guide books on japan to compare this to i will have to give it a 4 star, I found the information to be quite accurate... apart form distances and travel time (on foot) it would say 5 mins east... then 25 mins later in the humid heat and with a 20kg backpack on you arrive at the destination wishing you had taken the bus!

most travelers i met were also using the lonelyplanet guide and found it very useful!

there are very few pictures which leaves you uninspired when looking for things to do in each place! so check things out before you leave for japan

lonely planet is always a safe bet so buy in advance of your travels and make a rough plan... I would reccomend a couple of days in Tokyo and as much time as you can spare in Kyoto and Nara - the 2 most interesting places japan has to offer!

in conclusion - buy this book, i think you will struggle to find a better one for japan!
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on 22 October 2007
We take both this Lonely Planet and the Rough Guide on our Japanese road trips, allowing us to compare them side by side. And two ARE better than one, since the authors make different choices about what to cover.

During our latest four-week visit, however, we concluded that this Lonely Planet just can't compete with its rival.

Too often, its decisions about what to emphasise and what to exclude are downright eccentric. Moreover, there is an annoying style in some regional chapters - humorous or sarcastic parenthetical comments that add no information and feel like padding.

The Rough Guide, by comparison, is more straightforward. If you can afford and have room for both, that's probably still the best option. If not, though, Lonely Planet would not be the first choice.
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on 8 July 2008
Just returned from 2 weeks in Japan with 2 teens, using only this book. Visited Tokyo, Kyoto and Osaka. The Tokyo section we found quite good and we only got lost using its maps twice in 6 days (in Asakusa and Akihabara areas). Oddly the subway map doesn't seem to show all the stops on the Yurikamome Line (which you take to see ASIMO and other robots at Miraikan Museum). Fortunately took Tokyo City atlas with us as well.

Our main criticism is that the Kyoto section we felt underinformed us as to the most important sights in the city and we ended up missing some wonders. The orientation section at the beginning doesn't list key sights, just says it is difficult to recommend and to visit east, northwest and southwest areas! Quite a cop-out really and this left us struggling to know what to choose to visit from the vast array of temples and gardens in the limited time we had. We needed some guidance! i.e. of the type 'if you have 3 days in Kyoto do not miss'. Also there are apparently some good things for teens to do in Kyoto - the Geisha make-over studio, the Manga Museum - but we didn't hear about these from the guidebook. There is an emphasis on travelling by bus in the Kyoto section with scanty info on the tube - but we found the tube far easier to use and less confusing than the bus.

The mobile phone section buried in the back of the guide tells you how to hire a mobile but doesn't make clear that apparently UK mobiles don't work in Japan at all - unless they are 3G. So it was impossible for us all to split up and do different things during the day. We would have hired local mobiles at the airport on arrival, had we known this was essential.

Buried in the back of the book it tells you to buy your JR Pass before you go to Japan. The subsequent info given is slightly incorrect in that it tells you that the clock starts ticking on the pass as soon as you validate it in Japan. In fact you can validate it on arrival at the airport with a travel start date several days in the future.

Overall this book was fairly helpful but with incomplete info on some essential basics (mobiles, JR Pass) for a newcomer to Japan. The Kyoto section needs clear guidance on what not to miss. Sections on what to do with teenagers in the cities we visited would also be a helpful addition.
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on 12 November 2007
Having used this book in Japan as our main guidebook, we find it increasingly irritating. It has an obsession with listing all the gaijin hangouts, as if finding a pint of Guinness was the authors' main objective, but omits numerous interesting places to see.

The book is also very Tokyo-centric and - as other reviewers have noted - often takes a condescending tone when describing other places. The quality of the writing is generally quite poor. Where the authors attempt a "serious travel writing" style, they generally come unstuck pretty quickly.

Overall, the book is written in that 'we're not tourists, we're "travelers" ' style from the previous millennium and cannot be recommended to anyone over the age of 20.
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on 29 November 2006
Also found this book very useful (can't compare either, still give 5 as I wasn't really missing anything). It has very comprehensive listings with good descriptions of sights, hotels, restaurants and bars in, to name only the places i had been, tokyo, kyoto, osaka and even in koyasan (a little village in the mountains) - it certainly gave me more than enough to cover in 7 days.

The getting around sections were extremly useful (public transport in japan can be a bit of an adventure, the book gives useful tips for example to pay the fare at the end of the journey). Another useful thing were the suggested routes at the beginning of the book.

It didn't even suffer from the usual Lonely planet problem to miss out on more upscale places, the book has all the fancy hotels, restaurants, bars covered. Great buy!
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on 26 March 2010
I travel to 2-3 new destinations per year, always relying in the Lonely Planet travel guides. When I decided to go to Japan this spring, we ordered the newest country guide from Amazon. I am sorry to say: this guide was disappointing. It lacks basic information that usually the Lonely Planet guides have. Probably Japan is not an easy country for writing a travel guide about (and given the astonishing choices of places to visit, to eat, etc., it is not straightforward to write such a book), but some of the recommended places were not, by far, the best choices. Don't get me wrong, this guide has also very good suggestions and information, but compared to other Lonely Planets... it just did not live up with my expectations.
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on 11 April 2016
Great book, we are going to Japan on a cruise this summer so excellent as has all the islands we are visiting. Lots of lovely photos and plenty of facts and things to see and do. A lot thicker than i thought it would be so great value for money
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on 14 September 2014
I bought this a few years ago and had a very colourful holiday thanks to the recommendations within. I found a few places and met a few people I wouldn't have without this book, which gets a nice balance between history, culture, recommendations, and all types of activity. Best to get once a fresh edition has been released, when info is up to date and before thousands of other people have descended on the smaller, quirkier places mentioned
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on 4 August 2008
The Lonely Planet guide to Japan is a detailed and accesible guide to the country, providing a brief historical and cultural overview of Japanese affairs and then exploring sites of interest. The book incorporates many useful features including maps, key phrases and a comprehensive index. The book is mainly black and white but does incorporate a few colour snap shots.
At over 850 pages, the book is packed full of useful information but is also bulky and awkward to fit in a small bag meaning that most days, I left it at the hotel and relied on other books. Maps of smaller cities are helpful but I did find the Tokyo maps difficult to follow and poorly labelled. Descriptions of sites tend to be factual and informative but do not always convey an interest in the site itself. Some aspects of the guide are confusing and could be revised. For instance, the orientation section on Osaka mentions that Shin-Osaka and Osaka are seperate stations but this could be clarified in the Getting There and Away section.
Accounts of hotels and restaurants are practical and in some cases enthusiastic but I do feel this section could be edited and attention paid to the budget of the traveller. Instead of selecting a few examples, the guide could list more briefly and rate them for value.
This is a very useful book, although it is as expensive as better-looking guides which do not however contain the same amount of detail. I do think that the editors should look at condensing some aspects of future editions.
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on 1 September 2007
It was 'good', but not definitive - I would use it to see what direction to head in etc but then usually find something else interesting along the way.

One MAJOR omission is that all of the phone numbers listed for hotels etc do not have the region/city code at the beginning so it is a major effort to sort that out!! So be warned...

Also we found the maps incredibly difficult to orientate ourselves by.
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