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Discover Japan: Country Guide (Discover Guides) (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 1. November 2013

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56 von 56 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Not perfect, but one of the best guides on Japan that I've seen 28. November 2013
Von C. E. Stevens - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts ( Was ist das? )
For some reason, English-language travel guides on Japan tend to fall short. Either a book attempts to stuff in too much information to the point that it resembles the size and uselessness of a phone book (the regular Lonely Planet guide to Japan comes to mind) or is so superficial (i.e. lots of pretty pictures, little substance) that a first-time traveler might use it as an "idea book" for sketching out a general itinerary, but need to rely on something else when they're actually on the ground in the country. Lonely Planet's "Discover" series has attempted to split the difference ever since they came on the scene a few years ago, and while I think they could benefit from a bit more substance, I actually think this book does an admirable job: I can recommend it for both pre-trip planning and on-the-ground reference. I tend to be quite hard on Japan tour books, but despite my skepticism, I found that I like this book.

Just as a little bit of background, I lived in Japan for two years (one year in Yokohama, one on the rural island of Shikoku), speak the language, and have traveled extensively in the country from Hokkaido to the southern reaches of Okinawa and many places in between. I say this to give background on my perspective, and perhaps explain why I tend to be tough on tour books on Japan: if they skimp on key details or omit a place that a tourist should know about, I tend to notice. And, Discover Japan does omit some places, but nothing criminal for the average tourist who will concentrate largely on Honshu (if, however, you plan to concentrate primarily on one of the other islands--Kyushu, Hokkaido, Shikoku, or the delightful Okinawa--this guide is likely not for you). I really have to applaud this book's emphasis on Central Honshu: Takayama and Kanazawa are fascinating towns, and the natural beauty is incredible as well. The temples, onsen, ryokan, etc. are no less impressive than those in Tokyo and Kyoto, but because they're more off the beaten path, they tend to be less expensive, less crowded, and more personal than those in the bigger tourist draws. I recently reviewed another guide that almost completely omitted this part of Japan ... which is grossly negligent, considering any visitor with at least a week in Japan should at least consider going to this region. Honestly, if you're more interested in traditional Japan than modern Japan, and your time is limited, you might even consider concentrating on Kyoto and then prioritizing Central Honshu over Tokyo (as unconventional as that might sound).

Some other "pros" to this book:

* There is an emphasis on *experiences* as much as *sights*, and rightfully so. I really think Japan is as much about experiences as it is "must see sights"--odds are, it will be your first dip in an onsen, or a kaiseki meal, or a meditative stay at a temple on Mt. Koya, or walk through the food floor of a department store, or walk through one of the temple "shopping streets" (e.g. the one leading up to Sensoji in Asakusa or Kiyomizudera in Kyoto), or maybe a stroll through the pop culture meccas of Harajuku or Akihabara that will be your lasting impression of the country. This guide does a good job of bringing these to your attention, and recommending them in their itineraries. I think one of the keys to enjoying Japan is understanding what YOU enjoy and building your itinerary with that in mind: if you're spending 5 days in and around Tokyo, the places I'd prioritize for someone interested in the traditional side of Japan (e.g. Sensoji, Meiji Shrine, Kamakura, Nikko, museums, onsen, kabuki, etc.) would be quite different from those I'd recommend to someone more interested in modern pop culture (e.g. a trip to Robot Restaurant, people watching in Harajuku, a visit to a maid cafe in the "otaku" heaven of Akihabara). This might be blasphemy to some, but I'd argue that Japan has no sights that EVERY traveler "must see" ... rather, what the "must see" or "must do" experiences are different and depend on the individual traveler.

* Good "helpful tips" along the way that really should be MUST READS for first time (and even second or third time) travelers to Japan. Being familiar with the Suica card and/or rail passes, understanding how restaurants and onsen "work" (and not being intimidated by them!), knowing that post office ATMs can be among the most reliable for travelers, etc. makes your trip less frustrating and more fun.

* Good coverage of locations, especially for someone spending less than 3 weeks in Japan and/or focusing primarily on Honshu. It's not *perfect* coverage (more on this below) but I think it will give most people enough coverage of sights, hotels, restaurants, etc. for what they need.

It's not all rainbows and unicorns, however ... I have some grumbles as well (but, these are mainly minor nuisances rather than fatal flaws):

* More walking tours would be nice ... Tokyo is less a city than a collection of distinct neighborhoods, and the key to enjoying (and understanding) them is to stroll through them. If you find yourself turning into a "prairie dog" (i.e. taking the subway to one sight, popping your head up, then heading right back underground to take the subway to another) you're missing some of the fun of Japan.

* Even for the main tourist cities like Tokyo and Kyoto, coverage is not perfect. Personally, I'd recommend taking along some supplemental guides depending on your interests (some of my favorites include "Food Sake Tokyo", Diane Durston's Kyoto books ... I'd shy away from things like "Lonely Planet Tokyo" if you already have this guide ... often, there aren't that many differences between the "country" and "city" guides)

* More, and more detailed, maps. Many of this guide's maps are too vague: you need more landmarks, more information, and more detail. Odds are, you'll not find half of the interesting little alleyways and shops in the area around Kiyomizudera if you're squinting at the "Southern Higashiyama" map. Kamakura is a nice walkable town, but only if you have a map!

* There are a few places that I believe deserve more detail (or are omitted entirely). Kamakura is one: although it does get a few pages, I think it deserves more: the Daibutsu here is just as impressive as the one in Nara (and the outdoor setting is arguably more dramatic), the little shopping lane that runs parallel to the main street deserves mention--this is a great place for souvenirs ranging from pottery to tenugui "hand towels", and I would argue that for anyone who can't make it to Arashiyama in Kyoto, the bamboo forest at Hokokuji is a must-see. I'm probably biased because I lived in Yokohama, but I never cease to wonder why Osaka always gets a decent amount of coverage in Japan guide books but Yokohama barely a mention (if anything). If you're doing a day trip to Kamakura from Tokyo, consider a sunset cruise of Yokohama's harbor on the "Sea Bass" and have a delicious meal in Yokohama's large and charming Chinatown (and maybe a drink at the top of Landmark Tower--not cheap, but incredible views) before heading back to Tokyo. Finally, if you're going down to Okinawa and have the time to go to the Yaeyama islands, do so ... in particular, I love the island of Taketomi.

* The suggested itineraries have good ideas, but are often too ambitious. Japan is as much about the journey as the destinations; as a result, less is often more. Don't try to do too much, and you'll end up enjoying yourself more.

Thanks for bearing with this long review. Overall, while not perfect, I actually like this guide quite a bit. Personally, of the English-language options that I'm aware of at least, I consider this and the Rough Guide my favorites (with a slight nod to the Rough Guide, as it has more detailed information). I'm sure Lonely Planet is afraid of cannibalizing its flagship series, but if this "Discover" series pushed the information-to-pictures ratio just a little bit more toward the "information" side, I'd consider this just about perfect.
10 von 10 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
A Typically Good LP Travel Guide 19. Januar 2014
Von A Customer - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts ( Was ist das? )
I ran a boutique travel company, specializing in Russia and the former Soviet Union. Therefore I know what I like in travel guides:

-Ease of Use
-Smart Tips
-Comprehensive recommendations without being overwhelming
-Background necessary to understand a particular attraction, and hopefully a particular culture.

Lonely Planet Discover Japan fits all of these requirements.

It is an ideal travel guide for someone
-looking for an overview of the entire country of Japan, especially for planning purposes
-traveling for business to Tokyo and another region, and wants to do some sightseeing on the side

It is less than ideal for someone
-spending a year in Japan, traveling to several regions
-spending a week in Tokyo or another region

For these people Lonely Planet has a more comprehensive Japan guide, as well as guides for Tokyo.
5 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Last minute trip to Japan? This is your go-to guide! 12. Januar 2014
Von Quickbeam - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts ( Was ist das? )
I have both the Lonely Planet Country Guide and this Discover Guide to Japan. This Discover Guide is about half the size of the Country Guide and packed full of easy to access information. About the first third is about Tokyo with regional sections after that plus a history and survival guide in the back. There is a nice Tokyo map.

There is no "fat" here; it is all lean, fast reading essential information for those without a lot of time to drift though a travel book. I think it serves a critical function for those in business who may not have a lot of lead time before their trip. You cannot go wrong with this book. It is up to date highlights can't miss attractions as well as accommodations and transportation. Highly recommended.

Got the luxury of time before your trip? Add the Lonely Planet Country Guide/Japan and you will have all you need for an in depth, comprehensive travel plan for Japan.
4 von 4 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Compact, handy, attractive travel guide 2. Februar 2014
Von Sibelius - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch Vine Kundenrezension eines kostenfreien Produkts ( Was ist das? )
Lonely Planet's "Discover" series of guides are relatively compact books (this one weighs under 1.3 pounds) with attractive design and an emphasis on quick, handy information to be used while on the ground but equally effective for pre-trip planning purposes. Their most recent Japan edition (published Dec 1, 2013) is an effective and purposeful guide with plenty of good detail on all the major regions and sights to visit. While this book is designed for a first time visitor to Japan providing all the necessary info you'd need to make your visit a memorable one - there is a plethora of 'insider' tips that I was unaware of (I've made over 6 trips for business/pleasure) and have discovered a good amount of destinations to experience the next time I make a trip there.

This book also gets high marks for its physical design. Each of its 400 pages are printed in full color on rigid color with a good layout balance of photos, sidebars and text. There is a detachable color map of Tokyo provided and the book's sizing at 8x5 inches allows for easy portability during your excursions. A great book that I will get plenty of use from for the next few years.
2 von 2 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
I think this book provides some good information, but it lacks depth 6. August 2014
Von Alysse Rice - Veröffentlicht auf
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
We had only 2 weeks to plan our 14 day Japan vacation, this book was the one we tried to base some of our suggested itineraries off. Once we got into the country, we realized that the book missed some of the off the beaten path places and shrines. We ended up using tripadvisor and other websites to see and read what really was happening in the different cities where we were traveling and see festivals and understand the weather etc.. I think this book provides some good information, but it lacks depth. The book gives you a few ideas and things to try, but doesn't go further beyond those and really fell short of what I expected would be explained/covered in the book. I would possibly try pairing this with another guide-book or possibly using some travel websites.
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