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on 5 April 2008
On a two week holiday to Japan, bought this and another major guide at the airport, hot off the press. Many aspects are disappointing, for example, the guide is organised by theme, and not by area. I'm staying in Shinjuku, if i want to look up accommodation, that's on page 117, but if you want a map, that's 40 pages away o p150, and somewhere to go out, try page 180, and the sights? flip back 30 pages or so... I think you get the idea. Does it have a handy index? No. A cross reference? No. The maps, which I thought were okay when I flicked through it at the airport, aren't that detailed. When being a tourist giving clear directions and landmarks is crucial. The book is more of a description than a guide, so sometimes you're stuck as to what is a really big deal and what isn't. Another example would be that I read one part of the guide, but didn't realised until half way through that it was describing a castle, whereas I think it should have said "This is a great castle!" at the start! I'm really disappointed. One week in, I'm giving up on the Rough Guide.
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on 8 September 2009
I actually got this for recreational reading, which is not what it's intended for, granted, but if you're going to buy a travel guide I would guess that you'd want to be able to read it most of the way through without finding it a bit dry and dull. The structure doesn't do much to improve the book, not being pleasing to look at or even particularly clearly set out. I also get the strong impression that some of the facts in this book are outdated; even with my limited knowledge of Japan, I would say that much of what I read didn't quite match up with the experiences of others.
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on 29 March 2010
I was quite surprised to read all these negative reviews as I travelled twice in Japan recently using this guidebook and found it very reliable. Of course, things change and you can't expect everything to be a 100 % OK but I think that the guys at Rough Guides usually do a pretty good job, specially for Asia. What I really like is the balance between the practical infos and the cultural and historical ones. And I also did the trip to lake Chuzenji, a very pleasant day hiking without getting lost at all.
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on 5 August 2009
I could start by listing the inaccuracies, of this horrendously misleading book, in regard to the town where I live - Yokohama, and mention that they claim Yokohama (baseball) stadium was the venue of the 2002 (soccer) world cup. It would be a fair barometer of the slapdash, and thoughtless way this book is written. But I have an even bigger beef.

This week I took a short break in Nikko, in the mountains above Tokyo. My decision to take the (very) Rough Guide with me could have cost me my life. Following the instructions, in visiting Lake Chuzenji, for a nice stroll, I got off the bus "one stop early to walk up the hill for 1.5 km and enjoy the views".

The "1.5 km walk" was a perilous five and a half hour scramble, hike and crawl, of several miles, over no longer existent mountain paths, washed away, in the most part. Many paths that did still exist gave way under me, leaving me holding onto tree roots, for dear life, over drops of several hundred feet. At one point, I wrote a goodbye message, and two or three times, I considered calling mountain rescue. Thank god it didn't rain, or I don't think I'd have survived. I started my "1.5 km walk" just after 9am, and finished just before 3pm, with a pulled right calf, sprained left ankle, lucky to be alive. At no point in those five hours or so did I see another human being. Only a "rough, rough guide" book owner would have been foolish enough to be on that pathless and perilous mountain.

The publishers of this deceptive and dangerous book have to be taken to task. No matter that they say Nikko's Gusto restaurant serves beer (not true) or that The Shrine of Tosho Gu means "sunlight" (again, not true), the misleading information about lake Chuzenji could result in some poor unsuspecting day tripper dying, on the slopes of a rugged and dangerous mountain. In fact, several stories have been in the news, recently, about people trapped, or perishing, in the wilderness - seriously, rescuers should check the backpacks of these poor souls, to see if they were carry a "rough guide".

If you value your safety, DO NOT buy this horrible book! And stay on the bus, ALL the way to Lake Chuzenji!
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on 31 December 2014
Purchased as a gift for a Nephew who was visiting Japan he stated it was useful. Pretty much all one can get from a teenager nowadays...
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on 19 January 2011
informative well laid out a great read when your on your way there helps you find things you'd miss if you weren't aware of them excellent value and a very fair price
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on 27 February 2012
Hey guys and girls!

Well, as a seasoned traveler of some 35 countries, I can say that Japan itself is awesome, amazing and I am sure you will have a fantastic time there.

However, do NOT take this book! I bought it in 2008, as it was new then and I traveled in 2008. So, you would have thought it was OK right? WRONG! It was misleading, just plain WRONG in many, many places and it ended up COSTING me valuable time and money, simply by trying to refer to it for things. "ROUGH" guide indeed!!!

I could list example after example, but here are a selection,

1) On Miyajima Island, it doesn't warn you that the bike rental is only until 3pm. I arrived at 3.05pm for an afternoon / evening of cycling the island. I was totally let down! So, TELL US THIS INFO!!! What am I paying for here? I NEEDED TO KNOW THIS! It's important for planning my trip and, whilst I could have called ahead to the rental place, WHY DO I NEED THE BOOK THEN???!!! It's simply not good enough for Rough Guides to say we should check info - THEY SHOULD BLOODY WELL CHECK IT BEFORE THEY PRINT IT!!! I asked the cycle store how long this had been the case with the 3pm rule and he said it had always been the case. So, how did Rough Guides not notice this?!

2) Almost all of the restaurants I found in Tokyo were not at all as described. For example, they may close MUCH earlier than stated, cost a LOT more to eat there than the book stated etc etc I could go on! Some maps and directions were not even close to the places they claimed to be. I know bus routes alter, but trains don't tend to go other than on the rails! So, how can you get a station wrong?!

3) NONE of the hotels listed proved to be any good at all. Not the right prices / some were not close to where they claimed to be etc etc. And, I don't think I used a hotel from this guide ONCE in all Japan. When I did, they denied having any booking and had clearly double booked me (as they sometimes do). But, even then, it was very hard to find using the "guide" book.

4) Surprisingly, ATMs can be a pain in Japan. I was not expecting that at all! In such a modern country, I was amazed at how fussy, fiddly and generally annoying it can be to get cash. Sometimes, if the bank is closed, you can't use the ATM!!! How astonishingly stupid is that???!!! I had to make sure I was at the right place, using the right ATM at the right time to make sure I got money. It really was bad! I did very nearly get left with no cash on more than one occasion. Really surprising and I felt that other guides I have used would have pointed this out. Somebody researching this book in Japan should surely have noticed this glaring and potentially nasty problem?! I use a VISA by the way!!! Not unusual! Book let me down big time here!

5) On some occasions, I followed the bus directions from the book and ended up in totally the wrong place. I had to get taxis costing a lot of money. This happened several times! It happened in Tokyo, Fukuoka, Hiroshima and Kyoto.

Remember, I am not exactly a novice - I've been to places far harder to survive than Japan. This book is simply the worst I have used in any traveling I have done. It is inaccurate, misleading and ended up causing me so many problems that I stopped using it altogether. Even basic historical facts were wrong!

I have used other rough guides with varying degrees of success. I won't be using Rough Guides again, as they are far too "ROUGH" for me.

Avoid!
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on 2 March 2009
i just received the guide, after having some problems with the shipping, but i am satisfied on how amazon solved the problems.
i started reading the guide, trying to organize my journey and it seems to be complete and well written.
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