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Explore Japan in 2019 With These Travel Books

Know your way around the land of the rising sun.

Photo by Nick Wood on Unsplash

Sushi, cherry blossom trees, Mount Fuji. The land of the rising sun, birthplace of the samurai and home of the nihonjin, otherwise known to us as the Japanese. This land is not only in possession of one of the most culturally rich heritages of any country worldwide, it also boasts of having one of the best infrastructures out there.

Take a ride on the always (a-l-w-a-y-s) punctual bullet train, experience the pleasure taking a bath in their famous hot springs, take a tour of their ridiculously aesthetic Shinto and Buddhist temples while taking a deep dive into their cultural traditions. Japan has something for everyone, make sure to know where you are heading when you visit by reading these travel books about Japan.

#1 DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Japan by DK Travel

The DK Eyewitness Travel Guide Japan by DK Travel travel product recommended by Earl Barnes on Lifney.

The DK travel books are the most comprehensive books you can get.

They have two books on Tokyo and one on Japan. The books have pull out maps, top things to do, Phrases and so much more.

Learn more or buy here.

#2 Japan Just for You by Denise Stephens

The Japan Just for You by Denise Stephens travel product recommended by Denise Stephens on Lifney.

Japan Just for You is for people wanting to create their own trip to Japan instead of doing someone else’s “must-see” itinerary. A major difference between this and other travel books is that there are no recommended destinations, sights, hotels or tours. There is enough information about these already, and often the problem is sorting through too much information in numerous books, travel articles, blogs, websites and other sources.

This guide to creating your own trip to Japan starts at the beginning with your ideas and expectations. Taking some time to think about these will help you make better choices when planning your itinerary in greater detail. You are guided step-by-step through planning, developing a realistic itinerary and budget, and then putting the plan into action. Working through these steps will make for a successful trip to Japan, one that lives up to your expectations and gives you great pleasure.

There is an extensive and carefully selected list of Useful Information Sources and practical advice on how to do everything from working out your daily budget, choosing accommodation that suits you, to how to catch trains, buses and taxis. Because it’s an ebook, the useful information sources are easy to link to.

Contents include:

  • Where to start
  • About Japan
  • Planning the details, including developing your itinerary, planning your time, managing your budget
  • Putting your plan into action, including arranging internal travel, accommodation, money, getting around town, sightseeing
  • Useful information sources
Learn more or buy here.

#3 National Geographic Traveler, Japan, 5th Edition

The National Geographic Traveler, Japan, 5th Edition travel product recommended by Katie Derrick on Lifney.

VIVID Travel’s Expert Japan Travel Designer, David, went on a product familiarisation trip to Japan with one of the editors of this edition of the National Geographic Japan guide. It is a walking encyclopaedia of all things Japan and David saw first-hand how much fine detail he went into with this revision. This book provides everything from useful tips on getting to and from popular destinations, to advice on getting off the beaten track – and what to eat along the way.

Learn more or buy here.

#4 Unbeaten Tracks in Japan, Isabella Bird

The Unbeaten Tracks in Japan, Isabella Bird travel product recommended by Ian Ropke on Lifney.

This Book Put To Bed Japan’s Vaunted Reputation As A Clean Culture That Bathes Every Day: Not So And Isabella Should Know: She Traveled From Edo (Tokyo) To The Far Northern Reaches Of Honshu Island On Foot In The Late 19th Century: Very Insightful And Written Sort Of From A Female Perspecive.

Learn more or buy here.

#5 The Big Elsewhere: Robert Brady

The The Big Elsewhere: Robert Brady travel product recommended by Ian Ropke on Lifney.

This Memoir Covers 20 Years Of Living In The Japanese Countryside But Still Commuting To Osaka 3-5 Times A Week By Robert Brady : Poetic Essays On The Weather, Japanese Old People, Waiting Rooms, Monkeys In The Garden, Working The Fields Like The Old Famers Nearby And A Multitude Of Country Living Insights That Are Delightful Insights Into Japan Over Those 20 Years . . . Exquisite Writing On Par With Mark Twain’s Best Travel Work No Question.

Learn more or buy here.

#6 The Japanese Inn: Oliver Stadler

The The Japanese Inn: Oliver Stadler travel product recommended by Ian Ropke on Lifney.

This Book Offers A Great Historical Insight Into The Feudal System Of The Edo Period (1603-1867) Through The Lens Of A Large Inn On The Famous Tokaido Highway That Linked Edo And Kyoto. Lots Of Intrigue Related To The Entourages Of Samurai Daimyo Lords And Their Vassals Moving In Both Directions On The Highway. Sometimes Enemy Lords Staying In The Same Enormous Inn. Very Nuanced.

Learn more or buy here.

#7 The Inland Sea: Donald Ritchie

The The Inland Sea: Donald Ritchie travel product recommended by Ian Ropke on Lifney.

Donald Ritchie Is Japan’s Foremost Cultural Intellectual Of The Post War Period And This Autobiographical Journey In The Early 1970s Through The Ferry Linked Worlds Of The Inland Sea Is Outstanding But Not Exactly Low Brow: Lots Of Ancient Historical Insights That Lead The Reader To Be Better But Still Never Clear Picture Of The Japanese Including A Leper Colony That Was Still In Operation In The 1970s . . . A Classic Work In So Many Ways.

Learn more or buy here.

#8 Roads to Sata: Alan Booth

The Roads to Sata: Alan Booth travel product recommended by Ian Ropke on Lifney.

Alan Booth Walked From One End Of Japan To The Other Over A 9 Month Period Stayiing Away From The Major Cities Of The South Coast Of Honshu: And He Only Walked And Never Took A Ride And He Met So Many People And Has So Many Amusing Experiences En Route . . . A Real Page Turner For Those Interested In Understanding Japan Better And Have A Great Laugh All The Way.

Learn more or buy here.

#9 Looking for the Lost: Allan Booth

The Looking for the Lost: Allan Booth travel product recommended by Ian Ropke on Lifney.

These Essays By Alan Booth Are Equally Insightful, Eclectic And Humourous And Highly Recommended For Those That Like Variety On A Topic As Complex As Japan.

Learn more or buy here.

#10 Village Japan: Malcolm Ritchie

The Village Japan: Malcolm Ritchie travel product recommended by Ian Ropke on Lifney.

This Writer Lived In A Japanese Village For One Year (Think One Year In Tuscany Set In Japan) And This Autobiographical And Smoothly Written Story Is Just Great And Not Too Long But You Learn So Much.

Learn more or buy here.

#11 Geisha, A Life: Mineko Iwasaki

The Geisha, A Life: Mineko Iwasaki travel product recommended by Ian Ropke on Lifney.

A Best Seller And For Good Reason: A Behind The Scenes Look At The Still Legendary And Mysterious Lives Of The Maiko, Geiko, Geisha Of Kyoto Japan (Where 95% Of All Geisha Live, Study, Work And Play: With A Tiny Living Area In Kanazawa And Northern Kyushu).

Learn more or buy here.

#12 The Makioka Sisters: Junichiro Tanizaki

The The Makioka Sisters: Junichiro Tanizaki travel product recommended by Ian Ropke on Lifney.

As A Classic Novel By A Classic Japanese Writer The Makioka Sisters Is The Most International In Perspective And Awareness: Tanizaki Is Probably Japan’s Foremost Humanitarian Cosmopolitian Writer Of The 20th Century And This Book Is The Best For A Foreign Reader.

Learn more or buy here.

#13 The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet: David Mitchell

The The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet: David Mitchell travel product recommended by Ian Ropke on Lifney.

This Fictional Novel By David Mitchell Is A Page Turner That Takes You Into The Real Historical World Of Kyushu Island Japan In The Years When The Dutch Were The Only Foriegners Were Allowed On The Japanese Mainland (Or As Close As You Can Get: Dejima Island) But Mixes In A Twisted Sexual Slavery Plot Set In A Powerful Temple Lost In The Hills . . . Outstanding And Also Revealing In Regards Japan In Timeless Ways.

Learn more or buy here.

The recommendations of products and books within this article where sourced from industry experts. Their names and websites are listed below.

Who contributed to this article?

Earl Barnes from Distinctive Travel

Denise Stephens from Japan Just for You

Katie Derrick from ItWorks

Ian Ropke from Your Japan Private Tours

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Written by Tan Sauteed

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