36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Invaluable when travelling by train
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...
Published on 6 May 2008 by Dave
3.0 out of 5 stars A good guid but could have more detail
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...
Published 11 months ago by JackT
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36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Invaluable when travelling by train,
This review is from: Japan by Rail (Paperback)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). Finally, there is a section at the back with numbers/dates/days of week etc. translations, useful phrases, and some basic timetables that can be used as a rule of thumb when getting from place to place.
The book in general has an emphasis on the JR lines (because that's what the pass is valid for), but does have some information about connecting lines in order to get to recommended destinations along the way. It would be nicer if there was a little more information about the non-JR sections and what there is to do along them, but there is only so many pages and the text can only be made so small, and its already packed to the gills with interesting and useful info already.
Overall, thoroughly recommended. Especially now as its been updated (2007) I took many books with me and found this to be enough for almost all my needs, hence why my copy of this one is so dog-eared and the others are pretty much mint. :)
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Marvellous - you only need this book if you can use the JR Pass,
This review is from: Japan by Rail (Paperback)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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Japan rail experience,
This review is from: Japan by Rail (Paperback)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.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Japan by Rail in practice,
This review is from: Japan by Rail (Paperback)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.
5.0 out of 5 stars Japan by rail review,
This review is from: Japan by Rail (Paperback)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 indispensable during my short stay and constantly referred back to it during my time in Japan-It was so helpful I really really recommend this book you will not regret purchasing it as it will make your trip so much simpler to plan and enjoy!
5.0 out of 5 stars Detailed.,
This review is from: Japan by Rail (Paperback)Went to Japan. Valid companion. It was everything I hoped it would be. Gave me confidence to try more stuff on my own.
5.0 out of 5 stars Get this if you travel in Japan,
This review is from: Japan by Rail (Paperback)...by 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 succinct.
3.0 out of 5 stars A good guid but could have more detail,
This review is from: Japan by Rail (Paperback)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. We travelled there directly from Nara, which was an awkward journey as we got the train to Kyoto, then towards Tokyo but off half way and a bus north to Kawaguchiko. Fuji seems easy to reach from Tokyo (a train goes from Kawa to Otsuki and on to Tokyo), but not from south of the mountain. Details of bus times or even that there were buses would have been helpful, and also there were no times that the shuttle buses go to the mountain. I planned to start at 5am, but the first bus was at 7. That meant by the time we were back in Kawa by 10pm and off to Otsuki, we arrived to find there were no more trains and we were stranded there for the night with a Tokyo hotel already booked - again, there was no mention of train times from Otsuki finishing that early, and had we known that we could have stayed in Kawa and avoided the stress of trying to frantically find a hotel in a small town at 11pm.
Another annoyance was how difficult it is to get cash out in Japan - while guids mention this, they do not mention a solution. Banks and even ATMs are often open only 9 to 5 and accept only Japanese or Chinese (sometimes Russian) cards, while cash exchangers only do U$D and Euros. However, there are conveniences stores like a 7/11 in almost every town, and all had cash machines that worked fine with a British Visa - I wish this had been mentioned in the guide books.
So this is a good guide to help you transverse Japan by rail but is lacking some key details.
5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect travel companion,
This review is from: Japan by Rail (Paperback)I just finished a ten week holiday in Japan, (3 x 3week rail passes) and this book was my constant companion. Unlike other guides, the approach in this book is perfect for JR Pass holders. For people who want to see more of the country than just the usual city sites. Pick a journey or track, read about the towns / stops along the way and decided where and when to get off. Combined with hyperdia.com to check times and connections, toyoko-inn.com hotels near every railstation, it allows for a wonderfully flexible and cheap holiday. With this book and the JR railpass I went whereever the whim & the railpass would take me. Visiting over 35 towns, this book gave me the confidence to see the diversity of Japan.
3.0 out of 5 stars Japan by Rail,
This review is from: Japan by Rail (Paperback)So far just using it for planning, and it sits alongside Lonely Planet as very similar but thinner (i.e. lighter). Seems to have all the info you need to arrive, sleep, eat, drink, etc, plus some history and side-trips. Plus some sections on the history of Japanese rail, types of train ,etc.
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Japan by Rail by Ramsey Zarifeh (Paperback - 15 Jun 2007)
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