I love looking at travel books. Guide books give armchair travelers bite-sized pieces of information about another country. If you’re not able to go there, it can give you a new perspective on a foreign land. If you are traveling to the featured country, a good guidebook will inspire your dreams and help you decide what to do while there.
discover Japan by lonely planet is a fantastic guide book. It’s beautiful; every page is printed in color. lonely planet is a well respected guidebook publishing company. It is geared towards the young, adventurous, price-conscious traveler. The discover series is still growing and only currently offers about five titles.
This book offers an overview of each major region in Japan. It seperates the country into six or seven regions. Each region has its own section of the book. Each section begins with recommendations from resident tour guides. For larger regions/cities, such as Tokyo, there are more resident tour guides and their suggestions. This is nice because it showcases more of the attractions and appeals to different interests. There are five recommendations from each resident tour guide. After the recommendations, the book describes local attractions, housing options, and shopping. It is not comprehensive; there’s limited space and the book only lists about ten options each. Every few pages, the editors highlight something in one of these categories and prints a picture with a little more detail about it. This gives visual interest to the pages and also draws your attention to a cool place to visit. Also, the book offers 5, 10, and 14 day trip suggestions for Japan.
At the end of the book, there is a short section on the history of Japan. A timeline is printed at the bottom of the pages. There is also common information specific to Japan that all travelers should know: the country code for dialing, major holidays, type of currency used, etc. I liked that this section was at the back of the book. I’m prone to reading books linearly, front to back. All too often, textbook chapters at the beginning of travel books deter me from exploring the interesting information that’s specific and timely for the country located deeper into the book.
I recommend the discover series by lonely planet, especially this book about Japan. While it did not list all the awesome locations I visited when I went to Japan last year, it offered interesting alternatives. The pictures are beautiful, and the information is presented in a familiar way that doesn’t bore the reader.