Gift Guide Travel Guide

10 Best Japan Travel Guidebooks to Read

Searching for Japan travel guidebooks before visiting Japan is a kind of must thing to do for you. It is a really handy tool and one of the must have accessories for Japan visitors.

I don’t care whatever Japan travel magazines or travel based website or blog publish on their web portal, you desperately need a travel guide. I have been hardly noticed that anyone who wishes to Japan got it free especially online.

If you have friend who have a guide book may give it to you for free, in fact this is a different concept. That’s great if you have someone who could share it with you.

If a deck of card is the initial step to learning magic for a magician then a guidebook is your initial step to learning Japanese culture and places you desire to discover before visiting Japan.

A Travel Guide by Lonely Planet. Photo Credit: Sarah-Rose at Flickr.

When it comes to getting one then you really have to purchase it. Some Japan travel agency or tour operator say that they provide a free guide book, but under certain condition! What is it?

Surly, they won’t give it to you for free! The condition maybe you have to buy their service, for example buying a Japan Rail Pass or booking for a travel package to Japan and etc. This sounds crazy!

And their guides don’t provide the actual value that what exactly you need for your Japan trip. That’s why I am here to introduce some great Japan guide books that I have come across as part of research.

Below is a list of 10 guide books that tourists should not miss reading when traveling in Japan. Hopefully you would like them.

1) National Geographic Traveler: Japan 6th Edition

Anyone visiting Japan in the future should collect this guidebook. Photo Credit:

A trip to Japan is not complete without visiting Tokyo, the capital city of Japan, and Kyoto (ancient Japanese capital).

Seriously, this Japan travel guide book reveals not only the best of Tokyo that you will enjoy experiencing but also Kyoto, Historic Hiroshima, Hokkaido and its national parks, and dozens of other major and lesser-known places including walking itineraries, map and culture guide. All the photographs inside the book are quite spectacular.

You will definitely enjoy the photographs of beautiful landscapes, street scenes and people of Japan. You can collect this guidebook even when you are not going to visit in Japan soon. In fact, from this book, you can learn the Japanese culture and its attractions.

Overall, this is a very comprehensive and easy to understand Japan travel guidebook that I could highly recommended you to collect. So far, I have recommended this book to my clients who usually contact me directly via email. They all were satisfied. Buy it here.

2) Lonely Planet Japan (Travel Guide)

A well written travel guide for Kyoto visitors. Photo Credit:

Lonely Planet says that it is the largest travel guide publisher in the world. I fully agree with the statement.

There are so many useful travel guide books based on a country’s particular region I have found and Lonely Planet Japan is one of them.

It is very comprehensive, well written and quite interesting to read every pages of this book. It features most relevant up-to-date Japan travel tips, what to see, hidden attractions, when to see, where to shop, how to save money, what to eat, and skip.

It also includes beautiful photos, itineraries, things about Japanese culture and maps. If you are a travel planner then it is a great choice for you.

After all, it covers most of the interesting attractions scattered throughout Japan such as in Tokyo, Mt. Fuji, Kyoto, Osaka, Hokkaido, Kansai, the Japan Alps, Tohoku, Okinawa & the Southwest Islands, Shikoku, Kyushu and more.

If you are keen to explore Japan thoroughly then there is no option left except reading it. Check it out here.

3) Etiquette Guide to Japan: Know the Rules that Make the Difference! (Third Edition)

Learn all the etiquette from this book. Photo Credit:

Experts have been a great help to me since I decided to try to read something about Indian culture. Before my trip to this incredible diverse cultural nation, I had to buy a travel guide written mostly based on its culture and tradition. It was a very helpful book that made my entire trip awesome.

However, when your country’s culture and tradition is different than a country you are going to visit, then you have got to learn something very important. Yes I am talking about etiquette guide.

In Japan, we value it mostly. Traveling all over Japan will not be great until or unless you are accustomed to its etiquette.

On the other hand it is a must read book to those who would be living in Japan for some years as a student, businessman, teacher or employee. This book teaches you everything you need to learn about Japanese society and culture.

Besides, it does not only include bowing, shaking hands, use of bathrooms and public baths but also what to do when you are attend a Japanese tea ceremony, dinner guests to a Japanese family, talking in subway, Japanese latest etiquette in mobile phone manners, texting, how to deal with co-workers in Japan and much more.

Get this book right away and then start learning.

4) A Geek in Japan: Discovering the Land of Manga, Anime, Zen and the Tea Ceremony:

Discover the land of Manga, Anime, Zen and the Tea Ceremony. Photo Credit:

This is one of the best highly recommended book for Manga, Anime, J-pop fans and of course for every Japan geeks. Nothing could beat the sources published in this book, written by Hector Garcia.

He runs a great Japan blog called Kirai you can visit it here. I once sent this book as a gift to one of my American friends called Lynda on her 20 Birthday. After receiving it she did not know how to thank me. “How did you know that I would love it” – she says to me on phone.

I would not tell you the answer but it is obvious that this book contains something very interesting that a real Japan geek would like to read off and on.

It is a well illustrated book with beautiful photographs and well informed about Manga, Anime, Zen, Tea ceremony, brief history of Japan, calligraphy, martial arts, geisha and much more.

It is really fun to read as everything described quite nicely. If you don’t collect soon it as a Japan enthusiast then you would be a loser. So please collect it here.

You can also read its revised and expanded version with new topics.

5) Japan’s World Heritage Sites: Unique Culture, Unique Nature:

Explore Japan’s World Heritage Sites right away! Photo Credit:

Japan’s unique culture and diverse nature make it totally different than rest of the world. One survey had shown that most of the people visit Japan usually for three reasons: Nature, Culture and the World Heritage Sites.

Even though these things can be experienced in one single trip in one particular season. I have written an article a few days ago that shows how and where to discover Japanese hanami (cherry blossom viewing) at different famous Japanese Castles throughout the country.

Japan has so many interesting sites to discover, which even make prettier when yearly festival come alive as the nature changes all year round.

By reading this book you will be discovering Japan’s World Heritage Sites, temples & shrines, gardens, castles and natural wonders. Every site has got their own beauty and history; you will hunt them reading this classic Japan travel guide.

The book does provide useful information of different famous tourist spots along with mind-blowing photographs. If you wish to visit Japan soon or in future then read this book to make your dreams come true.

6) A Guide to Food Buying in Japan:

Read about guide to food buying in Japan. Photo Credit:

Probably one of your favorite parts of any celebration is food. Surprisingly, this is not my favorite part though if you think “A Guide to food buying in Japan” is not a travel guide then you are completely wrong.

I believe it is a very important part of your trip to Japan. Those of you who will be staying in Japan for a month or even longer period of time should definitely buy this book.

If you are a new foreign student, or English teacher who will be residing in Japan for years, this is what you actually need. This is a complete guide for food buying as well as household necessities that you need to know while staying in Japan.

From this book you will be learning how to shop from different kinds of local market, methods of pricing and labeling products, Japanese ingredients, daily common necessities, daily menu and recipes, where and how to find household needs and etc. Learn more here.

7) Frommer’s EasyGuide to Tokyo, Kyoto and Western Honshu (Easy Guides):

A light weight guide book that you need to carry in Japan. Photo Credit:

If you are planning for a trip to Tokyo, Osaka, Hiroshima and Kyoto then carry this guide book with you. Believe me; this book helps you more than many Japan travel apps already installed on your Smartphone.

This is best travel guide book I have come across to explore Western Honshu. Honshu is the mainland of Japan, the largest island with picturesque landscapes, temples & shrines, castles, gardens, local delicacies, mountains, parks, natural wonders and much more.

Tokyo and Kyoto has been a great tourist spots since a long time ago. Their local traditions represent even the whole Japan to millions of travel geeks. Get all the latest and up-to-date travel information including where to eat and stay at cheap price in Western Honshu.

The way author has written every sentence would make you fall in love with it. In fact, that’s her own travel experiences she expressed publishing this great travel guidebook. Buy it here.

8) Lonely Planet Japanese Phrasebook & Dictionary:

Learn useful Japanese phrases and words. Photo Credit:

Not all of us are dedicated to learn something very quickly that what we need in the future. This is a simple concept with simple thought. But this is the book that you need to communicate with locals in Japanese in Japan.

Ok, I understand that you will stay in Japan for 1-2 weeks and you think you have to learn it fully as a result you go to a Japanese learning centre or start learning it online. That’s a great approach though.

However, if you don’t want to learn it such way then how could you achieve it? To make you happy and hassle free during your Japan trip Lonely Planet has published this great Japanese phrasebook.

This book would help you to communicate with local and get familiar with things that you don’t know in Japan. This is certainly a great piece of work done by Lonely Planet. I hope your trip won’t not be daunting one as you take it with you to Japan. Check it out here.

9) Old Kyoto: The Updated Guide to Traditional Shops, Restaurants and Inns:

A Guide to Traditional Shops, Restaurants and Inns of Kyoto. Photo Credit:

If you really want to get into Old Kyoto spirit, you can start your journey reading this great guidebook. In fact, it is time to dig out everything related to old Kyoto that still exists in modern Kyoto.

A lot of people looking to find the most useful Kyoto travel guidebook but without knowing the insight of it they buy it and ultimately fail to get what he/she expected from the book. However, this book won’t let it happen.

This time you certainly will be the winner of all. The book shows where to find old shop, where to stay in old Ryokan (Japanese inn), where to eat, including distinct maps of different locations.

This is not an average type travel guide book but much more than that. Read it first and hopefully you will rejoice your mind before heading towards Kyoto. I even did not know the old shops of Kyoto until I read this book. Therefore, read it here.

10) Food Sake Tokyo (The Terrior Guides):

The guidebook that shows you the real path to explore food, sake in Tokyo. Photo Credit:

Don’t think that it is a Japanese recipe book, but a simple meaningful travel guidebook for foodie lovers, especially for those who would be visiting Tokyo soon. In order to find the best of Tokyo’s finest dining and drinking places you will have to read this guidebook.

If you don’t know where to eat fresh sushi, wagashi confections, sake, handmade rice crackers, tempura, soba noodles and other mouthwatering dishes, then don’t forget to collect it before arriving in Tokyo.

The author “Yukari Sakamoto” knows all the hidden best restaurants and bars inside Tokyo. Even though I have been to Tokyo many times before I had to search for great fresh sushi restaurants except the ones you find in Tsukiji Fish Market.

You will be sorry yourself if you don’t take it seriously and miss having delicious dishes of great restaurants scattered throughout Tokyo city. Buy this book here and be the winner like others.

Finally, not all the travel guidebooks are equal in terms of value. It is a nightmare when there are many travel guides to choose from. That’s why I have reviewed only the top 10 Japan travel guides which I believe they would satisfy your needs and wants.

If you could book hotel rooms and flights spending thousands of dollar then why not to spend few money on this important Japan travel accessory!

Well, if you are going to discover only Kyoto then just choose the one which is especially written on places of interests in Kyoto, you don’t have to buy a book that shares information about Hokkaido.

Good luck to you! I hope you choose the right one. Thank you.

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