If you are either doing early planning for your trip to Japan or are in the final stages you are likely to be considering which Japan travel guide book makes sense to purchase.
You may not realise that there are different Japan travel guide books which make sense at the different planning stages, so here are my recommended travel guide books for inspiration, early planning and for while you are travelling. All of my top picks are recent releases which are available for international shipment from the Amazon USA store, and many are available in both printed and Kindle versions.
Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. If you book after clicking on one of these links then we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
- Best Japan Travel Guide Books for 2018
- New! Japan in a Van: A Travelogue
- New! Onsen of Japan: Japan’s Best Hot Springs and Bath Houses
- Lonely Planet Discover Japan
- Japanese Inns and Hot Springs: A Guide to Japan’s Best Ryokan & Onsen
- Japan Traveler’s Companion: Japan’s Most Famous Sights From Okinawa to Hokkaido
- Tokyo Style Guide: Eat * Sleep * Shop
- Zen Gardens and Temples of Kyoto: A Guide to Kyoto’s Most Important Sites
- Super Cheap Japan: Budget Travel in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Hiroshima and Surrounding Areas
- Join the Japan Travel Planning Facebook Group
Best Japan Travel Guide Books for 2018
New! Japan in a Van: A Travelogue
This is a great travelogue style book by author Efrat van Kloeten about exploring Japan in a van and really getting off the beaten tourist track. Click here to check out the prices and order through Amazon
“Like all good things, it started with wild imagination…”
‘Japan in a Van’ enrolls a 45-day road trip of a young couple to one of the most beautiful, exciting and intriguing places on earth.
Between vivid descriptions of waterfalls and indigo fields, Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines, you can sense the tradition of the wasteland and the technology of the cities and get numerous lists of tips: How to rent the right car? How to navigate easily in the country side? What and where to eat? How to overcome cultural and lingual differences? And how much should a trip like this cost?
Join this extraordinary voyage to experience Japan on a whole new level.
New! Onsen of Japan: Japan’s Best Hot Springs and Bath Houses
This gorgeous new release book about onsens (or hot springs) in Japan is well worth a place on your bookshelf. Click here to check out the latest prices and to order!
As a country blessed with natural geothermal energy, no trip to Japan is complete without an authentic onsen (hot spring) experience. Yet this world has remained a mystery to many western travellers, who are keen to take advantage of the onsen’s relaxing qualities and healing properties. Onsen of Japan is your entry into art of Japanese communal bathing.
Featuring listings for more 2500 onsens across the country, authors Steve Wide and Michelle Mackintosh have selected out the very best places to enjoy this quintessential Japanese experience – including traditional 7th-century baths, historic wooden buildings, open-air mountain springs, rustic neighbourhood baths, and big city super santos (aquatic centres). Alongside vivid descriptions and beautiful images, each listing includes a checklist with important travel information, such as price range, whether same-sex or mixed bathing is available, whether English is spoken, and if tattoos are accepted. A detailed introduction at the front of the book includes a guide to etiquette, onsen rules, customs and quirks, as well as information on different water types and their healing benefits.
The authors also offer tips on how to take a bath like a local, bathing in different seasons, the best places to take a foot bath (ashiyu) or hand bath (teyu), and where you can cook your own onsen egg. Slip off your clothes and ease yourself into the world of the Japanese onsen. One thing is for sure, taking a bath will never be the same again.
Lonely Planet Discover Japan
The Lonely Planet Discover Japan travel guide book is a great option to get an overview of the major tourist destinations in Japan, and has a good balance of information and photos to help you plan your trip. An earlier version of this book is what we used for our trip to Japan and we also found it was quite useful as we were travelling, so a very versatile guide book option. The new version was released in November 2017 so should be mostly up to date. This guide book is only available as a paperback edition. Click here to check out the latest prices and to order.
Japanese Inns and Hot Springs: A Guide to Japan’s Best Ryokan & Onsen
The gorgeous photos in this new release guide to Japan’s Inns and Hot Springs will inspire you to travel beyond the beaten track in Japan to find the extraordinary. This guide book is available as either a softcopy or Kindle edition. Click here to check out the latest prices and to order.
Richly illustrated and exhaustively researched, Japanese Inns & Hot Springs is the definitive guide to Japanese spas and hot springs known as ryokans.
It presents the finest ryokans in Japan, from historic properties like Hiiragiya in Kyoto and Kikkaso in Hakone to luxury retreats like Zaborin in Hokkaido and Tenku-no-Mori in Kyushu.
- In this Japan travel guide you will find:
- The 40 best Japanese ryokan and onsens for English-speaking visitors (including 13 in the Tokyo area and 11 in and around Kyoto and Nara)
- A description of the special features of each ryokan and what is included in your stay
- Tips on how to choose the right ryokan for you
- Practical advice on how to book a stay and a detailed etiquette guide
Above all else this ryokan guide reveals the enduring traditions of Japanese hospitality, a rich heritage reaching back a thousand years to the time when Japan’s hot spring bathing culture took root. The beautiful properties in this book also illustrate the unique design sensibility for which Japan is so justly renowned.
Indispensable tips on booking a Japanese ryokan that is right for you along with a detailed etiquette guide to staying at a ryokan and bathing in an onsen, as well as descriptions of the special features of each of the inns featured.
Japan Traveler’s Companion: Japan’s Most Famous Sights From Okinawa to Hokkaido
For true trip inspiration the Japan Traveler’s Companion: Japan’s Most Famous Sights From Okinawa to Hokkaido provides great photos and an overview of the major sights and culture of Japan, including:
- detailed itineraries for each region
- Information on the country’s 100 most important tourist sights, including 22 UNESCO World Heritage Sites
- Illustrated introductions to Japanese cuisine, popular culture, and Samurai history
- A map of each region with suggested walks
This guide book is available as either a hardcopy or Kindle edition. Click here to see the latest prices and to order.
Tokyo Style Guide: Eat * Sleep * Shop
In Tokyo Style Guide author Jane Lawson offers a unique insight into Japan’s culture and aesthetic with her expert guided walks through 21 of the most intriguing and stylish Tokyo neighborhoods and the best of what they have to offer. Jane shares information on how to get the most from your trip – what to see and how best to experience it.Click here to see the latest prices and to order
Zen Gardens and Temples of Kyoto: A Guide to Kyoto’s Most Important Sites
If you are keen to check out Kyoto’s Zen gardens and temples then this book is a great option to learn more about 50 World Heritage sites in Kyoto with lovely photos and detailed overviews of each site. This book will definitely inspire you to visit Kyoto and identify where you might want to visit while you are there. This book is available as either a hardcopy or Kindle edition. Click here to see the latest prices and to order.
Super Cheap Japan: Budget Travel in Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Nara, Hiroshima and Surrounding Areas
The Super Cheap Japan travel guide book is the ultimate budget travel guide to Japan, full of the most useful, up-to-date information for a cheap holiday in Japan. This book includes guides to the major tourist destinations, tips to find cheap accommodation, food, attractions and more, and is a great option for both early trip inspiration and planning and also while you are on the go in Japan. This book is available as either a paperback or Kindle edition. Click here to see the latest prices and to order.
Join the Japan Travel Planning Facebook Group
You are also welcome to join my Japan Travel Planning Facebook Group – it is a great resource to enable you to ask questions about your upcoming trip to Japan!
You may also like to check out some of my other articles such as the following:
- The Ultimate Quick List of What to Pack for Japan and Tokyo
- Best Online Pocket Wifi Rental in Japan for Tourists
- Best Travel Bag and Luggage for Your Japan Trip
Pretraveller is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.