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Japan by Rail [Paperback]

Ramsey Zarifeh
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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There is a newer edition of this item:
Japan by Rail, 3rd: Includes Rail Route Guide and 27 City Guides Japan by Rail, 3rd: Includes Rail Route Guide and 27 City Guides 4.2 out of 5 stars (20)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Trailblazer Publications; 2nd Revised edition edition (15 Jun 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1873756976
  • ISBN-13: 978-1873756973
  • Product Dimensions: 18.1 x 13.4 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 440,507 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Excellent -- The Sunday Times

A gem --The Daily Yomiuri

Invaluable companion --Railway Magazine

Highly recommended -- Bullet-In Magazine


Fully revised second edition, includes full historical background, cultural tips, getting to Japan, where to stay and eat, and timetables

Inside This Book (Learn More)
Browse Sample Pages
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
37 of 38 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Invaluable when travelling by train 6 May 2008
By Dave
I've just been around Japan and this book is an absolute must for anyone wanting to do the same via the ultra-efficient train network. I managed to get round virtually all of it with this and a basic phrasebook with very little knowledge of the language.

The main section of this book is split by area, (eg Hokkaido, North, central and west Honshu etc.) then into two sub-sections; Route guide and City Guide. The Route section deals with how to get from one major city to another via the train network and the latter deals with what you can do when you get there. Most stations, large and small are covered on each line, with suggestions about when to stop off on your journey to take in the sights. The City guide covers most major cities and provides maps showing places to eat, stay, and see, as well as other useful things such as Internet Cafes, subway stations etc. (This section was not quite as useful as it sounded as the hotels listed are often more expensive than what you can get if you just pop into the local JTB branch found in every city.) For all the local attractions, it also lists the opening times and price, and these (at the time of writing) are pretty accurate.

There are other sections as well either side of the main one: There is a detailed section on the history and culture, along with itineraries and recommendations, along with frameworks of what you might want to do depending on how long you'll be staying. There is also a guide to how to get hold of your invaluable Japan Rail Pass, which you'd have to be barmy not to use if you intend to be there for a week or more. (Tip: Don't bother with the green passes - the standard carriages are more than enough luxury compared to the trains in the UK).
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
In fact you only this book period because it tells you how to get around as well as defining what there is to detain a rail traveller in any particular place. We found it absolutely brilliant. I left my other guide books at home and slowly discarded brochures from JNTO as largely redundant.

The phrases in the back of the book were more helpful than a 3 month night school of Japanese 1 and the timetables are still fairly accurate. You can check these locally, on the internet before you leave, when you are there or have your nice Nagoya Hotel do that for you (Hotel Astria). All JR stations will help as well!

Back to the book however, what it doesn't tell you is really not worth knowing. We visited 2 listed steam attractions; the Locomotive Museum in Kyoto, impressive and the Senzu-Oigawa line even more so, including the singing conductor! Of the places it mentions, the Gold Leaf Museum is exactly as described down to the tea you will be served with tiny squares of gold leaf floating in it. There is usually some little thing you do not recall from the book, such as a little demonstration of what gold leaf really is like, which make this almost the perfect guide book.

Truly leave the rest at home and seek out only the very special extras if you must, such as "Walks in Nara" though we thought the 2 main things the book recommended for Nara were quite enough really, after all the Giant Buddha & the Lantern Temple are both poles apart and it was a hot day!

Will definitely look for another edition when we are next able to return to Japan.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Japan rail experience 8 Oct 2009
This book was extremely helpful during our rail holiday in Japan. Provides useful tips about using the rail pass and infomation on places to visit. We didn't use any of the suggested routes, but the city information was helpful anyway. Not alwasy easy to find exactly what you need as information is organised by rail route and seems to jump about a bit.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Japan by Rail in practice 30 Sep 2009
I used this book whilst in Japan in the last few weeks, specifically in Kyushu and West and Central Honshu. It explores how to get around Japan by train, which allows you to see a lot of the countryside. It contains a huge amount of information including where to stay and where to eat. Tried some of the recommended restaurants and tried types of Japanese foods I had not had before. Also explored some of the unusual places listed.

Met Ramsey at a meeting in Tokyo and was guinea pig for some new restaurants in Kyushu that may make the next edition which he is working on at the moment, which will be ready in a year or two's time, I guess.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good guid but could have more detail 23 Jan 2013
By JackT
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was a good guide that my wife and I used when we went to Japan for our honeymoon in August. With the JR Pass working out as such a good price and the rail system so efficient and English-friendly we decided to use that to travel the country.
This helped us to choose where to go and plan our journey using JR, although there were still some thing unexplained until we got there. I arrived with a list of trains and times I wanted to take, but soon learned you could only reserve seats on certain bullet trains and that you can often only book ahead one ticket at a time with JR Pass rather than sorting out all your trips at once. Most of the time you just show your JR Pass at the station and get on an unreserved seat.
It also lacked a detailed description of how to use your pass for the shorter journeys within the cities. In places like Kyoto the inner lines are all private, although the JR Pass can be used to some of the stations on the overland and on buses too, while in Osaka the loop line is JR but not the internal lines and in Kobe the whole system in JR. So it didn't explain particularly well how to use your JR pass to get the best value while getting about within the cities.
It does detail places and attractions, but not in as much detail as the Rough Guide does as it spends more time explaining the rail routes. While coverage of cities is extensive, attractions outside of them are often only given a passing mention. Even major ones, such as Himeji Castle, do not get much detail.
I found it difficult to get details of planning to climb Mt Fuji from any Japan guide and was shocked how little detail they provide on the mountain which is the most popular national park in the world.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Japan by rail review
I bought this book to help me plan for an upcoming trip to Tokyo and Osaka and everywhere I could get to in between in 2012 I found the reviews of places of interest and maps to be... Read more
Published 11 months ago by Purple
5.0 out of 5 stars Detailed.
Went to Japan. Valid companion. It was everything I hoped it would be. Gave me confidence to try more stuff on my own.
Published 13 months ago by Mr. Martin Schofield
5.0 out of 5 stars Get this if you travel in Japan train. It is like a bible for all train travellers in Japan. I followed it throughout my three week trip from Kagoshima all the way to Wakanai and I found it accurate and... Read more
Published 17 months ago by SK
5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect travel companion
I just finished a ten week holiday in Japan, (3 x 3week rail passes) and this book was my constant companion. Read more
Published on 13 July 2011 by Allen W Kamp
3.0 out of 5 stars Japan by Rail
So far just using it for planning, and it sits alongside Lonely Planet as very similar but thinner (i.e. lighter). Read more
Published on 10 Feb 2011 by Mr. C. Heaume
5.0 out of 5 stars Only for JR Rail Pass users...
This book is specifically for those people using a JR rail pass.
but for that purpose it is excellent. Read more
Published on 10 Feb 2011 by SussexSiren
4.0 out of 5 stars Japan travels
The guide arrived quickly and looks ideal for my holiday planning. I am busy trying to arrange a programme for my third visit to Japan -using a train pass this time. Read more
Published on 14 July 2010 by Cleo
3.0 out of 5 stars Good for rail travelers but not comprehensive
This book gives very good information on travelling by rail. Should not be used as a comprehensive guide to Japan as it is very rail and rail station focused. Read more
Published on 8 July 2009 by Kelly-ann Semper
4.0 out of 5 stars Useful but only for solo travellers
I took this with me on a guided rail tour of Japan and found that it was not that useful. I think it would be best for someone who was travelling around Japan without a guide.
Published on 27 April 2009 by Paul
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