Best Japan Travel Guide Books for 2019

Best Japan Travel Guide Books

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 from the Amazon USA and other country stores, and many are available in both printed and Kindle versions.

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Best Japan Travel Guide Books for 2018

New! Tokyo Maze – 42 Walks in and around the Japanese Capital: A Guide with 108 Photos, 48 Maps, 300 Weblinks and 100 Tips by Axel Schwab

If you are keen to get off the beaten track and explore Tokyo on foot then this is the guide book for you!  Click here to check out the price and order through Amazon!

Tokyo Maze – 42 Walks is no ordinary travel guide. The author is no stranger to Japan either, having spent over 25 years visiting the country as a student, on work assignments and as a writer. He even lived in Tokyo for five years. Alongside all the main attractions, this guide takes you to places which don’t get a mention elsewhere. The information included in the guide is fully up to date, thanks to another in-depth research trip to the city in April 2018.

Inside the guide:
• 42 complete walking tours to 500 sights in and around Tokyo.
• Each itinerary begins and ends at a railway or subway station.
• Recommend lunch-break and coffee-stop for each walk.
• 48 area maps reliably steer the visitor through the maze of Tokyo streets.
• 108 photos offer first impressions.
• Over 100 insider tips aid readers in their pre-trip preparations and during their stay.
• 300 bookmarks enable travellers to access additional information on the Internet.
• A calendar shows at a glance which festivals are taking place at any given time.
• Personal Top 10 tips on architecture, observation points, parks and gardens, shopping streets and malls, boutiques, hotels, restaurants, fine arts and other museums, showrooms, theatres, temples and shrines.
• Online maps are available for 20 of the tours, featuring additional tips on accommodation, shopping, and food and drink.

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.

My favourite sites to obtain up to date information about Japan include Japan Guide for general Japan information, and Tokyo Cheapo, in particular for details of upcoming events.

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:

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