DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Japan (英語) ペーパーバック – 2007/8/20
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DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Japan is your indispensable guide to this beautiful part of the world. The fully updated guide includes unique cutaways, floor plans and reconstructions of the must-see sights, plus street-by-street maps of major cities. The new-look guide is also packed with photographs and illustrations leading you straight to the best attractions.
This uniquely visual DK Eyewitness Travel Guide will help you to discover everything region-by-region, from local festivals and markets to day trips around the countryside. Detailed listings will guide you to the best hotels, restaurants, bars, and shops for all budgets, while detailed practical information will help you to get around, whether by train, bus, or car. Plus, DK's excellent insider tips and essential local information will help you explore every corner of Japan effortlessly.
With hundreds of full-color photographs, hand-drawn illustrations, and custom maps that brighten every page, DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Japan truly shows you this country as no one else can.
Unlike other guides you can get an idea of what places and attractions look like, which is especially helpful in a country like Japan, which has about a bajillion Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples. Reading about them alone probably wouldn't help you pick amongst them so here the pictures really help. The sections on cultural differences and practical tips for travelers are especially useful in this book.
The main weakness of this book is that it is heavily focused on Tokyo and Kyoto, and smaller places get short shrift. A number of reviewers have noted that maps and helpful phrases are not very complete, but I don't think you rely on a travel guide for those. A smaller phrase book that you can carry around and show to Japanese people would be more helpful, and I always buy a map of any place I am visiting for more than one or two sights or at least get the free ones the hotel inevitably gives you. Detailed maps would make this book unwieldy and even heavier than it is.
People have also noted that there are very few hotel and restaurant recommendations. This is always true of Eyewitness guides, but with the internet so easily accessible these days, this is less of a problem than it used to be. TripAdvisor.com, Expedia.com, Japan-guide.com and other travel sites have comprehensive and up-to-date hotel and restaurant info and traveler reviews and are far more useful than a book that has to go to print months in advance of being available. They are also indispensable for things like finding lodging at a Buddhist temple in Koyasan -- this guide mentions that you can do it, but doesn't tell you how. The internet is far more useful for things like that.
Finally, Eyewitness Guides don't have recommended itineraries geared to specific interests or time tables like some other guidebooks, and it is a definite weakness of the series. [...]
This book isn't perfect, but it's a useful tool in helping one plan and appreciate a trip to Japan, especially for those desiring a somewhat "touristy" experience.
It's not too large so that you're carrying around a dictionary which hurts to walk with; makes you embarrassed to show; or vividly display's to the country that you're a tourist. It's not too small that you have to squint to read; is easy to lose; or hard to find the information you require.
The layout is precise, colourful, and common-in-sense. The chapters each have an apparent colour and mark a different region of Japan. Within each region are the major cities present plus some notable other areas (eg: Hot Springs, Mountains, and Beaches). There are plenty of pictures, diagrams, charts, important information sheets, etc, throughout the book. (eg: each region has a breakdown map of cities/notable places). Within the major cities, there are landmarks, attractions, and neat notable nooks mentioned throughout. Everything is followed by an appropriately concise paragraph. This is how it should be to me: A brief description of what you are going to see so that you do not have your nose buried in the book when you should be viewing the sites and yet still have a background to what you are viewing.
I think every guide book should have many pictures, maps, etc, so that you can help visually reference yourself, which you will need to do in Japan. There is so much packed together in this country that it's easy to get lost. There are pictures literally on almost every page of this book, which provide excellent landmarks for your travels. The maps are not overwhelming; they only display the required information.
I obtained 15+ guide books and maps during my travel to Japan, however this one book was the reference I carried with me everywhere I went. Until you tour Japan often you are going to want a book like this one for everywhere you go.