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$11.90
1. Tales of Old Japan (Classic Reprint)
2. The Religion of the Samurai A
$14.62
3. Japan: An Attempt at Interpretation
$22.84
4. Japanese fairy world. Stories
$14.17
5. Frommer's Japan (Frommer's Complete)
$11.83
6. Defense of Japan 1945 (Fortress)
$18.38
7. Japan (Country Guide)
$8.29
8. Japan (Eyewitness Travel Guides)
$30.34
9. A Modern History of Japan: From
$15.71
10. The Rough Guide to Japan Fourth
$11.77
11. Japan by Rail, 2nd: includes rail
$9.50
12. Japan at War: An Oral History
$14.13
13. Peeps at Many Lands; Japan
$12.13
14. Discover Japan (Full Color Country
$2.48
15. Rivals: How the Power Struggle
$16.06
16. The Holy Grail of Macroeconomics,
$9.45
17. Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter
$6.29
18. Dave Barry Does Japan
$7.50
19. A Year in Japan
$5.30
20. Japan - Culture Smart!: the essential

1. Tales of Old Japan (Classic Reprint)
by Algernon Bertram Freeman-Mitford Redesdale
Paperback: 492 Pages (2010-10-09)
list price: US$11.90 -- used & new: US$11.90
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1440069441
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
TALES OF OLD JAPAN.
THE FORTY-SEVEN RONINS.
The books which have been written of late years about Japan, have either been compiled from official records, or have contained the sketchy impressions of passing travellers. Of the inner life of the Japanese, the world at large knows but little : their religion, their superstitions, their ways of thought, the hidden springs by which they move-all these are as yet mysteries. Nor is this to be wondered at. The first Western men who came in contact with Japan-I am speaking not of the old Dutch and Portuguese traders and priests, but of the diplomatists and merchants of eleven years ago-met with a cold reception. Above all things, the native Government threw obstacles in the way of any inquiry into their language, literature, and history. The fact was that the Tycoon's Government-with whom alone, so long as the Mikado remained in seclusion in his sacred capital at Kioto, any relations were maintained-knew that the Imperial purple with which

Table of Contents

CONTENTS; THE FORTY-SEVEN RONINS 1; 1HE LOVES OF GOMPACHI AND KOMUllAsAKI 25; KAZCMA'8 REVENGE *9; A STORY OF THE OTOKODATE" OF YE DO 68; THE WONDERFUL ADVENTURES OF FUNAKOS1II JIUYKMON 118; THK ETA MAIDEN AND THE HATAMOTO 14t>; FAIRY TALES 171; THE TONOUE-CUT SPARROW 173; THE ACCOMPLISHED AND LUCKY TEA-KETTLE 175; THE CRACKLING MOUNTAIN 177; THE HTORY OF THE OLD MAN WHO MADE WITHERED TREES TO; BLOSSOM 180; THE BATTLE OF THE APE AND THE CRAIi 183; THE ADVENTURES OH LITTLE PK AI'IILING 185; THE FOXE8' WEDDING 187; THE HISTORY OF SAKATA KINTnKI 189; THE ELVE8 AND THE ENVIOUS NEIGH POUR 191; THE OHOST OF BAKURA 193; nOW TAIIMA SnUM<5 WAS TORMENTED nY A DEVIL OK HIS OWN; CREATION -34; x CONTENTS; PA OR; CONCERNING CEETAIN SUPERSTITION8 24:j; THE VAMPIRE CAT OF NABESHIMA 245; THE STOEY OF THE FAIT ... Read more


2. The Religion of the Samurai A Study of Zen Philosophy and Discipline in China and Japan
by Kaiten Nukariya
Kindle Edition: Pages (2009-10-04)
list price: US$1.99
Asin: B002RKT3LI
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

3-0 out of 5 stars Easy read, clarifies many things, reads current
My introduction to Buddhism came through the Eckhard Tolle books. I looked at this free book to better understand what Tolle talks about and I ended up submerged in an wealth of explanations (understandings) such as, where did the name Zen come from, what are the basic tenets, how is it different from others. The book reads as if written today except for the occasional dated grammar.

The book goes much beyond the roots of Zen. I spent the last hour reading the discussion on the nature of man. Is man fundamentally good, fundamentally bad? The book explores four options and then moves to explore the relationship of man to nature (the universe in my terminology). Wonderful and easy to read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Where are the words in a Kindle before its turned on?
This is a delightful book on the history of Zen in Japan. The author starts from the beginngs of zen philosophy in China and brings you right to the Kamakura period where zen became the fashion with the warrior class. I say fashion, but it was/is more than that. It is indeed a study of how a particular philosophy ( zen ) can take hold and flurish in a specific culture, in this case Japan. This was my first kindle book and I simply could not put in down ( rather turn it off!) If you are interested in Zen at all, you will enjoy this book! Highly recommended-and it's FREE to boot!! ... Read more


3. Japan: An Attempt at Interpretation (Dodo Press)
by Lafcadio Hearn
Paperback: 276 Pages (2007-07-27)
list price: US$21.99 -- used & new: US$14.62
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1406544353
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Patrick Lafcadio Hearn (1850-1904), also known as Koizumi Yakumo after gaining Japanese citizenship, was an author, best known for his books about Japan. He is especially well-known for his collections of Japanese legends and ghost stories, such as Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things. Hearn was born in Lefkada, one of the Greek Ionian Islands. He was the son of Surgeon-major Charles Hearn (of King's County, Ireland) and Rosa Antonia Kassimati, who had been born on Kythera, another of the Ionian Islands. In 1890, Hearn went to Japan with a commission as a newspaper correspondent, which was quickly broken off. It was in Japan, however, that he found his home and his greatest inspiration. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Great on many levels
In a nutshell, he shows how ancient Japanese society grew out of a vast network of family cults based on ancestor worship. Each family had a duty to keep the dead ancestors satisfied (or at least not unhappy), and, for the most part, this meant keeping family behavior in line with custom.There was a very fine line between custom and morality, and the immoral individual was one who broke with custom. No individual was free to break custom because, in doing so, he endangered the prosperity of the family.

Later incursions of Buddhism and Confucianism did little to alter the core family-cult structure underlying the society. In my opinion, it is still largely in tact today, though some would likely disagree.

5-0 out of 5 stars An insightful history of Japanese religiosity, up Meiji era
Lafcadio Hearn says that Japanese culture is like a Bonsai tree, meticulously sculpted and trimmed and controlled for thousands of years.Even during his time (1890-1904) the rules were changing and the gardner was putting away his shears, and chaos was beginning to reclaim the tree.

However, to understand this strange plant, with the roots and bends and twists of Bonsai sculpting, one must look at its past, and the methods of shaping.From Hearn's point of view, this shaping is religion, specifically Ancestor worship and the "rule of the dead."Without insight into Japanese religious history and practices, Hearn says, you cannot understand Japan, its history or its people.

"Japan: An attempt at interpretation" is incredibly insightful and thorough, offering a history of the various forms of Shinto, Buddhism, Confucianism and other folk-practices that shaped the national character.I am currently working on my MA in Japanese Religion, and I can verify that his research is correct, and his conclusions still hold.It is the longest of Hearn's books, and obviously a great deal of work went into it.

All though time has passed him by, "Japan: An Attempt at Interpretation" is still a valid, interesting book, both well-written and accurate.It DOES help explain Japanese interactions and culture.Most interesting are his speculations of Japanese culture, and where it would go in his pre-WWII era.Unfortunately, some of his worst fears were realized.

4-0 out of 5 stars Somewhat Dated, But Still Interesting
The author's premise is that "Japan can be understood only through study of her religious and social evolution."Toward that end, he gives a good and interesting account of the history and development of the Shinto faith.

This book describes in detail not only Shinto's history, but also how the religion effected and influenced Japanese society and culture for well over 2000 years.There are chapters on Shinto's/Japan's response to the introduction of new religious ideas --- namely Confucianism, Buddhism, and Christianity --- and on its reaction to the rise of the shoguns, and to the sudden introduction of Western ways in the mid-nineteenth century.

All-in-all, this is an informative, educational book.

One word of caution is in order, however: Hearn wrote this book in 1904.It is therefore somewhat dated; and the author's flowery Victorian-era prose might put some readers off.Same can be said for his use of nineteenth century anthropological terms and references --- words such as "Aryan," for example.Still, if the reader can look past Hearn's personal prejudices, this book is a fine history of Shinto up until the year 1904.

To complete a study of Shinto, of course, it would be necessary to learn of the religion's development through the Second World War and beyond.I am not aware of any book bringing the history of Shinto into the present, but perhaps they exist ... in English. ... Read more


4. Japanese fairy world. Stories from the wonder-lore of Japan
by William Elliot Griffis
Paperback: 342 Pages (2010-08-29)
list price: US$31.75 -- used & new: US$22.84
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1177983591
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
This is an EXACT reproduction of a book published before 1923. This IS NOT an OCR'd book with strange characters, introduced typographical errors, and jumbled words.This book may have occasional imperfections such as missing or blurred pages, poor pictures, errant marks, etc. that were either part of the original artifact, or were introduced by the scanning process. We believe this work is culturally important, and despite the imperfections, have elected to bring it back into print as part of our continuing commitment to the preservation of printed works worldwide. We appreciate your understanding of the imperfections in the preservation process, and hope you enjoy this valuable book. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (2)

4-0 out of 5 stars D. B. R.
This is a pretty good book. The writing seems dry and lacks the use of descriptive language.

5-0 out of 5 stars Very Good!
I really enjoyed this book. It has tales that spark the imagination from days of old. The only problem with the book is the text is a little messy in some spots and the pictures are not very clear. But over all its a great book! ... Read more


5. Frommer's Japan (Frommer's Complete)
by Beth Reiber, Janie Spencer
Paperback: 672 Pages (2010-08-09)
list price: US$25.99 -- used & new: US$14.17
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0470541296
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Frommer's Japan is packed with all the facts, tips, and descriptions you need to have perfect vacation:

  • Our author has written about Japan for years, so she's able to provide valuable insights and advice. She'll steer you away from the touristy and the inauthentic and show you the real heart of the Land of the Rising Sun.
  • Follow her picks for the best travel experiences -- including climbing Mount Fuji, splurging on a night in a ryokan, exploring Kyoto's Gion District, skiing in Honshu and Hokkaido, making a pilgrimage to Sensoji Temple, and riding the Skinkansen Bullet Train -- and you're sure to have a fantastic trip.
  • A guide to the culture of old and new Japan will help you peel the onion of the unique synthesis of East and West that meets here.
  • Also included are accurate regional and town maps, up-to-date advice on finding the best package deals, and an online directory that makes trip-planning a snap.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (30)

5-0 out of 5 stars prompt delivery
this product was not out yet and I pre-ordered it. It arrived when it was released in stores and was delivered promptly. I enjoy the Frommers travel books because it offers great insights and suggestions.

5-0 out of 5 stars Buy from Amazon -
I cannot say enough about buying from the sellers at Amazon.All that I have dealt with our just great.Most of the time when I order I get my items long before the arrival date.

That is all I have to say - other than when I need something - the first thing I do is to go to Amazazon. com

Thank you.

r

5-0 out of 5 stars Get the Most Out of Your Trip to Japan, Frommer's is a Must Have
This is a must have for any trip to Japan.We recently visited Japan for 12 days and found this guide book to be invaluable.We stayed mainly in Tokyo - but definitely get JAPAN instead of Frommer's Tokyo because it includes all of the Tokyo info and gives lots of great information on side trips.All of the suggestions for activities and restaurants were home runs.ESPECIALLY Andy's Shin-himoto restaurant in Ginza Tokyo.It was just as advertised, incredibly fresh delicious food for an amazing value.We were seated next to a local foodie who was astounded that we knew about his favorite "find".5 stars!

The suggested day trips from Tokyo were also home runs.We did a night in Hakone and found the tips on buying the Hakone Free Pass and places to stay (we stayed at the historic Fuji-ya Hotel) were again, invaluable.The high point of our trip was a day trip to Kamakura.We appreciated the trip even more having read the history of the giant Buddha and the Kannon-Do provided in the Frommer's.Most popular tourist locations in Japan have English pamphlets, but not all.It's wonderful having the details and history to reference in the Frommer's, every experience is more fulfilling.Quick tip about Kamakura - the "Nature Trail" is a full-on hiking trail that is much longer than it looks on the tourist map.It was fun, but dress appropriately.

One companion piece to Frommer's Japan that is also a Must Have is Tokyo Street Atlas: A Bilingual Guide Tokyo City Atlas: A Bilingual Guide (3rd Ed.).The Frommer's maps are limited in size and scope, but the Tokyo Atlas has tons of very good, detailed maps - including subway maps that include the JR lines and MAJOR plus - all the street names are also listed in the corresponding Japanese characters.Note, the title says "Guide" but the Tokyo Atlas is just maps.

The information on Japanese culture and customs in the Frommer's were helpful but a little outdated.We may have seen things a little differently because we are younger (30) but one major thing we found that differed was the amount of Japanese people who spoke English.Many know some English and we found that lots of people wanted to speak English with us.The Frommer's said that Japanese people are shy about speaking English and that it's hard to get them to converse with you - we found this is not the case at all!We met many friendly Japan natives who engaged us in conversation, welcoming us and suggesting sights to see.Also, most people in the service industry know some working English, so it is easy to buy things and ask for help on the Subway.

A tip from us - most places don't take credit cards - especially museums and subways.You cannot expect to do this vacation on plastic, you have to have lots of cash (yen) on hand.I think I was able to use my credit card about 4 times and most cards charge a "foreign currency service fee" which is a percentage of each transaction.The best place to get cash out and get large bills broken in Japan is the Post Office.All Post Office locations have ATMs and the postal employees are ready and willing to break your large bills.

Japan is a MUST SEE country.If you are planning a trip there, congratulations!You are making an excellent decision.We found the country to be clean, friendly, easy to navigate and full of rich culture, traditions and delicious food.Frommer's Japan is the perfect guide book to help you fully enjoy your trip.I recommend buying it before you plan your trip.In hindsight, I would have liked to build in a two day trip to Kyoto - guess I'll have to go back!

Enjoy your trip to Japan!

4-0 out of 5 stars well organized but no japanese characters alongside
I checked out A LOT of guidebooks and felt like the Frommers was the best organized as well as the most interesting. However, a major disadvantage was that along with the placename/restaraunt name in english it didn't also list it in Japanese characters to show a taxi driver, etc. They did list many in the back of the book, but it was a bit cumbersom to flip back and forth.

3-0 out of 5 stars Very poor index
I found the index in this guide to be very poor,
and coverage of places to visit quite incomplete.
I spent 2 months in Nara and Kyoto 30 years ago,
but could not find two of my favorite temples in
this book.They were neither in the index nor
in the section on Nara. In addition, when I tried
to look up Yoyogi in Tokyo and Saihoji in Kyoto,
neither one was in the index.I had to search
through the book myself to find them.I would
have bought a different book if I had realized
this was so incomplete. ... Read more


6. Defense of Japan 1945 (Fortress)
by Steven Zaloga
Paperback: 64 Pages (2010-10-19)
list price: US$18.95 -- used & new: US$11.83
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1846036879
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
In 1945, with her fleet destroyed and her armies beaten, the only thing that stood between Japan and an Allied invasion was the numerous coastal defence positions that surrounded the islands. This is the first book to take a detailed look at the Japanese home island fortifications that were constructed during 1941-45. Utilizing diagrams, specially commissioned artwork, and sources previously unavailable in English, Steven Zaloga examines these defences in the context of a possible Allied invasion, constructing various arguments for one of the greatest 'what if' scenarios of World War II, and helping to explain why the Americans decided to go ahead with a nuclear option. ... Read more


7. Japan (Country Guide)
by Chris Rowthorn, Andrew Bender, Matthew D. Firestone, Timothy Hornyak, Benedict Walker, Paul Warham, Wendy Yanagihara
Paperback: 872 Pages (2009-11-01)
list price: US$28.99 -- used & new: US$18.38
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1741790425
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Nobody knows Japan like Lonely Planet. With more maps and language content than any other guidebook, this 11th edition unveils the very best of shopping in Tokyo, skiing in the Japan Alps, soaking in idyllic onsen (hot springs), trekking to Kansai's feudal castles, slurping soba at Kyushu food stalls, and so much more.

Lonely Planet guides are written by experts who get to the heart of every destination they visit. This fully updated edition is packed with accurate, practical and honest advice, designed to give you the information you need to make the most of your trip.

In This Guide:

Architecture chapter leading you from ancient temples to modern towers
Reliable advice from resident and specialist authors - and locals!
Japanese script in text and on maps makes navigation easy
... Read more

Customer Reviews (39)

2-0 out of 5 stars where's the JR map?
I used this book for a month long trip to Japan and I really would not recommend it.I grew increasingly irritated with it over the course of the month for a number of reasons.

First, the book really fails to give clear recommendations about what's worth seeing - it makes everything sound good, and I can attest to the fact that this is not true.It is therefore likely to waste your time at some point.It's comprehensiveness contributes to its enormous size - it's a huge, thick book that was a pain to carry in a backpack when I really could have used only a fraction of the information in it, even over the course of a month.The book just tries to cover too much, including places the vast majority of travelers have no reason to venture to.

What's worse is that in spite of its apparent comprehensiveness, it fails to include information that would be very useful to most travelers.For example, where is the JR map?At least a JR map of Tokyo, considering 90% of the people using this book will use that.I don't know how many times I wished I could have had that included, not just the Yamamote line.There's only 3 subway maps, and they are arbitrarily placed in the middle of the book, like page 510 out of 800, so every time you refer to them you have to sit there and flip for 10 minutes trying to find those 3 randomly placed pages.Imagine doing that every day, sometimes multiple times a day.

Also, on the subject of organization, it was utterly maddening to have the "getting there" information at the end of each city chapter, when this is clearly the most important information you'll need to access about each city and needs to be pushed to the front of each chapter.Every time I wanted to go somewhere, I first had to find the section with the city, and then I had to sit there and flip through another 5-45 pages to find where they decided to *end* the chapter and grace us with the "getting there" information.This sounds minor, but when you do it every day for a month (sometimes multiple times in day when you're traveling and distracted), it sucks.

There's some good info buried in this monster, but you really have to dig through it.For example, I loved the info about taking local trains from Tokyo to Kyoto - that saved me a nice $50 or so.But otherwise, I would keep looking to see if there's anything else out there.

4-0 out of 5 stars At its best before leaving when you're preparing your trip!
I went to Japan alone this summer for a duration of 25 days. This book was very useful to prepare the trip and I think it's where the book is at its best. They give nice advices, thoughts and ideas about where to go according to how much time you will stay there.

However, once in Japan, the book isn't that much useful. Every information center in Japan cities are really good and can provide you better maps and sights location than in the book. But it's still a "Must" to read, I would say, three to five months before your trip. Plus, at least a fast reading overview six to seven months before your trip because there are a lot of things to think about to be well-prepared.

2-0 out of 5 stars Amazingly encyclopedic ... and that's not necessarily a good thing
LP Japan has a wonderful wealth of information.In terms of maps, restaurant and hotel reviews, details on every city and town imaginable, logistics on traveling from point A to point B, no one can top it.As a *travel guide* however, LP Japan falls short.The massive amounts of information does not (or should not) hide the fact that as a guidebook, LP Japan simply does not get the job done.

I know that LP has a cult-like following and LP Japan is the number one, best-selling travel guide on Japan but I am at a loss as to why.This guide reads like a phonebook, and although a phonebook is an incredibly valuable reference, one doesn't use a phonebook to plan their vacation.With so many places listed, a book like this needs to make useful recommendations about what to experience and what not to experience.Instead, the recommendations are so sloppy and lazy they are almost criminal."Three Days in Tokyo" would have you skip Asakusa with its iconic shopping street leading to Senso-ji, Shinjuku (be it for the view from TMG, the experience of catching a rush hour train in the world's busiest station, or the decidedly off-the-temples-and-shrines-beaten-path "entertainment" in Kabuki-cho), Ueno Park, Kabukiza, Akihabara, Meiji Shrine (which it lists as a "highlight" yet doesn't make it on the 3 day itinerary?), etc., etc.Yes, I know they are all described in the Tokyo section ... but they're crammed in with dozens if not hundreds of other sights, many of which have dubious touristic value.It's impossible to identify which are the "memories of a lifetime" experiences and which are the "how did THIS make it into a tourbook?" types.

The "highlights" in the "Around Tokyo" section are notable for the only thing they have in common: none are around Tokyo!Chichi-jima is as "around Tokyo" as Seoul or Vladivostok.Meanwhile, highlights that are actually around Tokyo (I'm looking at you Kamakura) are curiously absent from the list of highlighted locales.I'm a bit biased because I lived there, but I'd argue that Yokohama would be a deserving "highlight" around Tokyo as well (heck, finish off a day trip to Kamakura with dinner in Yokohama's Chinatown and a stroll around the harbor and I'll guarantee you have a more fun day than LP's Tokyo itinerary, which consists of "sleep in and shop" each day after Day 1).Just about every place of note in Central Honshu is listed as a "highlight" ... but no suggestion of how to plan your time there.Despite 60 pages of information on Kyoto, there is no advice as to how to spend your time there as far as I can see.In general, there are some walking tours but not enough for a book of this size.To makes things even more challenging in terms of deciding where to go, they have literally hundreds of sections on towns and cities that no one in their right mind should visit on holiday.If you *really* need to know a few facts about Podunk City, Japan that's what Wikipedia should be for.

If you have a good idea of where you want to go, the massive amount of information is helpful ... but again, because there is also a massive amount of information on places not really worth seeing, even the information on the "must see" places is not quite as robust as you would expect.The eating, sleeping, and entertainment sections usually offer a pretty good range of options.However, when rating this book, I just can't get over the shoddy job this book does with organizing information in such a way as to help the potential visitor plan and prioritize his or her trip to Japan ... you know, to "guide" one's "travel" as a travel guide should.Perhaps some might say I am paying too much attention to this issue of "highlights" and "recommendations" but to me, in the internet age, just having "lots of info" isn't enough for a guidebook anymore when most of it--from train and bus logistics, to hotel and restaurant info, to info on the tourist attractions--is readily available online, and for free.In the internet age, the problem for the potential tourist is usually not that there's not enough information--the traditional concern--but that there's TOO much information to sift through.What would be more useful is not a laundry list of places that reads like a checklist, but suggestions of how to link them together to make for an excellent *experience* in Japan.

Unfortunately, the other Japan travel guides often come up short as well so you'll probably end up using multiple resources to plan your trip; however, if you only could take one guide with you to Japan as an independent traveler, I'd probably recommend the Rough Guide.It's written better and has most of the same information as LP but it's better organized to help you plan your trip.If you're more of a visual person you'll definitely hate LP (and the Rough Guide as well) ... try Insight or Eyewitness (personally they're too "fluffy" for me, but I know many people like them) or even LP's new "Discover" series which I still find too lightweight, but it does have some neat features not in regular LP or even the other visuals-heavy guides like Insight and DK/Eyewitness.

4-0 out of 5 stars thorough, helpful, but not the best for us
There is a lot of information in this book, but with so much, it really needs to have a better index.We found ourselves using the DK book more.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Book
Although I haven't still been to Japan, I like the book and feel that it supplies a lot of info - maybe even too much. The book also has Japanese writings for every place. It tries to give you info about accomodations for different budget. Again, as usually (but few exceptions) Lonely Planet is a good book to go. ... Read more


8. Japan (Eyewitness Travel Guides)
by DK Publishing
Paperback: 416 Pages (2007-08-20)
list price: US$28.00 -- used & new: US$8.29
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0756628768
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
The guide that shows you what other travel books only tell you!

If you are planning a trip to the Land of the Rising Sun, make sure you don't leave home without DK's Eyewitness Travel Guide: Japan. All aspects of modern Japan, as well as its history, art and ancient traditions are explained through informative text and spectacular photographs and illustrations. Learn about Japanese history and culture, and experience the exotic cuisine and entertainment. Over 800 full-color photographs, street-by-street maps, and aerial 3-D cutaways highlight all of Japan's major attractions. Japan's enormous variety in landscape (from near arctic in the north to sub-tropical in the south) comes to life like no other guide. Whether in Tokyo, Kyoto, Okinawa, Honshu, or Hokkaido this is the ultimate resource for all points of interest. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (39)

5-0 out of 5 stars Just took this to Japan and it was very helpful
We just travelled in Japan for two weeks and found this book to be very helpful both in pre-planning the trip and on the trip.It is a handy size to carry around.We also took the Lonely Planet guide and we used this one a lot more.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great guide book
I have owned this book for 6 years and have used it on my 5 separate trips to Japan.It's a great guide book for my needs.I love the pictures and diagrams of the different cultural sites to see, and it's fun to read. I think it's best for getting a sense of where to go and what to see, and it also contains many interesting tidbits of information & history on each site.I hate the guidebooks that are all black and white text, they are so boring.This is a far cry from those types of guide books.It may not be quite as useful for finding restaurants and hotels and for getting around Japan in general, but I still think it's adequate in these areas.My wife is Japanese so she helps me with that part. But she also loves this book because it has such great summaries and pictures of the different places to see.She has discovered much about her native country thanks to this book!We won't leave for Japan without it.

4-0 out of 5 stars Japan by DK books
After having the book for a month, I found that the printing on 2 pages of the index are blurred and very difficult to read.
Otherwise, the book is very informative with excellent photos on good quality paper.Wish the book were lighter in weight though.
When traveling, I'm always concerned about weight.

5-0 out of 5 stars Japan
Like all Eyewitness guides it gives a good overview of the country and culture,together with detailed description and pictures of the main sites.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
I have always liked DK's Eyewitness series of travel books, and "Japan" is consistent with their past quality. Chockful with useful information, and wonderful photographs. I particularly like their suggested "walks" amd maps. I do not use it for hotel selection and local travel details, but more for sightseeing information, cultural information, food, and such. ... Read more


9. A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present
by Andrew Gordon
Paperback: 416 Pages (2008-11-14)
list price: US$44.95 -- used & new: US$30.34
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0195339223
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
A Modern History of Japan: From Tokugawa Times to the Present, Second Edition, paints a richly nuanced and strikingly original portrait of the last two centuries of Japanese history. It takes students from the days of the shogunate--the feudal overlordship of the Tokugawa family--through the modernizing revolution launched by midlevel samurai in the late nineteenth century; the adoption of Western hairstyles, clothing, and military organization; and the nation's first experiments with mass democracy after World War I. Author Andrew Gordon offers the finest synthesis to date of Japan's passage through militarism, World War II, the American occupation, and the subsequent economic rollercoaster.
The true ingenuity and value of Gordon's approach lies in his close attention to the non-elite layers of society. Here students will see the influence of outside ideas, products, and culture on home life, labor unions, political parties, gender relations, and popular entertainment. The book examines Japan's struggles to define the meaning of its modernization, from villages and urban neighborhoods, to factory floors and middle managers' offices, to the imperial court. Most importantly, it illuminates the interconnectedness of Japanese developments with world history, demonstrating how Japan's historical passage represents a variation of a process experienced by many nations and showing how the Japanese narrative forms one part of the interwoven fabric of modern history. This second edition incorporates increased coverage of both Japan's role within East Asia--particularly with China, Korea, and Manchuria--as well as expanded discussions of cultural and intellectual history.
With a sustained focus on setting modern Japan in a comparative and global context, A Modern History of Japan, Second Edition, is ideal for undergraduate courses in modern Japanese history, Japanese politics, Japanese society, or Japanese culture. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

1-0 out of 5 stars Tattered
Almost every page had highlighted lines or pen markings in the margin. While a cute picture was created, it didn't make up for the fact that the book looks terrible.

5-0 out of 5 stars good seller
the book is like new and is not damaged. I also received it faster than what i expected. I will buy again from seller.

3-0 out of 5 stars College Textbook
I mistakenly didn't realise that this is a college textbook. It also reads like a college textbook on Japanese history. As a matter of fact it feels like I am studying! Anyway, a fine book but be warned, it's like taking Modern Japanese History 101.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent history book
This book was easy to read and understand. I enjoyed it so much that I did not even sell it at the end of the class.I reccomend this book to anyone even remotely interested in Japanese history.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Overview of Japanese Histor
Andrew Gordon covers the important aspects of Japanese history through time. He starts off by dealing with the Tokugawa and ends with the current political situation at the turn of the century. The appendixes provide a good account of Japanese government by listing the prime ministers and the country's election results since the end of WWII. Contemporary History of Japan focuses on important aspects of the Tokugawa regime such as its political, social and economic set up of Tokugaw Japan and focuses on its eventual downfall. The book continues with the Samurai revolution and the Meiji revolution that set the path for Japan to become a world power. Gordon then continues Japan in the early 20th centiru and how the countr began to change internallly as a result and how Japan dealt the Depressoin Crises in the 1930s, its wars with China and Russia and its eventual role in WWII and the American influence in the post WWII years. After the end of WWII, Japan becomes a dominant figure on the world stage with rapid economic growth unparalled else where in the world resulting in massive changes in society. Gordon does deal with Japanese economic troubles in the post WWII era such as the oil crises in the 1970s and the how Japanese bubble burst as well as other issues Japan is facing such as low-birth rates and changing gender roles.

Great background to Japan overall. ... Read more


10. The Rough Guide to Japan Fourth Edition (Rough Guide Travel Guides)
by Jan Dodd, Simon Richmond
Paperback: 1056 Pages (2008-03-31)
list price: US$28.99 -- used & new: US$15.71
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1843539195
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description

The Rough Guide to Japan provides invaluable advice on everything from getting there (including overland routes) to tracking down the latest and best places to sleep, eat, drink and shop. There is comprehensive coverage of all the major sights – and many off the beaten track - from the northern tip of Hokkaido down to the islands of Okinawa, closer to Taiwan than Tokyo. Full-colour sections introduce manga and anime, arguably Japan’s most successful cultural export, its rich variety of festivals and its stunning traditional gardens. All this is accompanied by in-depth coverage of Japan’s history, religions, arts, movies and music plus a discussion of environmental issues. There are maps of all the main towns and tourist destinations, together with separate colour maps of the Tokyo subway system and the rail network in Osaka.

... Read more

Customer Reviews (10)

4-0 out of 5 stars Decent
A guidebook is great for reading up on culture, history, and food before you go on a trip.And I found this book to be good for just that.Japan is way too big and interesting to fit in such a small book, though.You'll find Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka in depth with way too little about most other places.

Not really much else to say.It's a guidebook.Rough Guides seem to be better than LP, but slowly deteriorating as any big guidebook company will inevitably do.Too many updated versions with too few updates, but at least you get the feeling they have actually been there before.

1-0 out of 5 stars "The Rough Guide" - Too rough to guide the tourist
My husband and I travel approximately twice monthly to national and international destinations. We have planned many trips with many guides and found "The Rough Guide to Japan" to be the WORST we have experienced.

The pluses: Lots of interesting cultural facts and historical background. As such, this would be a great book to read before one heads out of town.

The reality: The 'concrete information' for a traveler trying to get from point A to point B, find a decent hotel (without being too pricey nor too gritty), or manage the transportation options in and between cities is limited, convoluted, and generally useless.

One example: Hotels listed in any city have virtually no information about cost. We understand that rates change between editions but printing said data at least gives a metric for determining if a hotel is a good selection according to one's budget. In order to find this information one has to seek it out themselves. This adds one more step in the planning process which- seeing as a guide is supposed to serve this purpose - is a nuisance.

Another example: We booked a hotel on Miyajima Island (one we found separately since the options in the RG were so limited). The "Rough Guide" mentions and generally recommends the private boat service that is a shorter tram ride from the Hiroshima train station to Miyajima with no mention of specific scheduling concerns, giving the impression few exist. We arrived - after significant effort and time on the tram- at about 5:00 to catch our 'rapid transit' only to find there are very few trips by the private service and service ceases at 4pm. As such, we ended up spending a small fortune on a taxi to return to Hiroshima Station (and avoid losing another hour in return), then take the train (one more hour) and catching the public ferry.

In my opinion, the maps were dreadful. Very small areas covered and limited street names. They definitely did not help to get around well.

The book was such a waste that it made no sense to carry a 1 1/2 pound "guide" around on our trip. We dumped it and we'll never buy another Rough Guide.

The Lonely Planet is far and away superior, as are Rick Steves' guides. If you must buy a Rough Guide, read it before you leave for the contextual information but don't carry it - it can't be considered a guide.

4-0 out of 5 stars Don't Leave for Japan Without This Guide
I used this guide to plan our 2-week vacation in Japan.It provides useful historic information of locals that we were interested.What I found the most useful was the transportation guides to the locals.We never got lost. The hotel and dining info was a bit limited, but it was a good start.I highly recommend this book to people who are traveling to Japan.If you're doing a self-tour for more than a week, make sure that you get the JR Rail Pass before you head to Japan.I'llnow get the rough guides for Australia and New Zealand.

3-0 out of 5 stars difficult to read
The print in the book is faint and small which makes it difficult to read.Otherwise, the information in the book is helpful.

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent, detailed guide for Japan
I purchased the Rough Guide for Japan based on the reviews and was not disappointed.It offers detailed information on all aspects of travelling, including local transportation, air/train/sea/ground ticket purchase and travel, customs, rules and regulations, etc, as well as great information on sites and eating.We spent 9 days in Japan and used the Rough Guide's recommendations on restaurants for every meal and were only disappointed 1 time (and that was likely due to our speaking very little Japanese).The information provided on how to get around and sightseeing attractions is very good and very detailed.There are several pictures and overall, I found it to be the best travel guide I have ever used.So much so that I bought Rough Guides for my next two trips.I would say that for a complete guide that covers everything from the beginning of your trip and buying tickets and packing, to getting around, seeing the sights, eating and culture, books, movies and art in Japan, this is your book. ... Read more


11. Japan by Rail, 2nd: includes rail route guide and 29 city guides
by Ramsey Zarifeh
Paperback: 496 Pages (2007-08-01)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$11.77
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1873756976
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description

Fully revised second edition. Japan is steeped in legend and myth, perhaps the greatest of which is the popular misconception that the country is simply too expensive to visit. The truth is that flights to Japan are cheaper than they've ever been, accommodation can be great value, while the warm hospitality which awaits every visitor costs nothing at all. The real secret to traveling around the country on a budget, however, is the Japan Rail Pass. With this pass you can travel on some of the fastest trains in the world as often as you like for as long as you please – and all for one bargain price. Use this comprehensive guide in conjunction with a rail pass to get the most out of your trip to Japan.

* Practical information – planning your trip; what to take; getting to Japan from Europe, North America and Australasia

* City guides and maps – where to stay (all budgets), where to eat, what to see in 29 towns and cities; historical and cultural background

* Kilometerkilometer route guides – covering train journeys from the coast into the mountains, from temple retreat to sprawling metropolis and from sulfurous volcano to windswept desert; 34 route maps

* Railway timetables – Bullet trains and all routes in this guidebook

* Plus – Customs, etiquette, Japanese phrases and 28 color photos

... Read more

Customer Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars Excellent Resource
We are currently in Japan and found this book extremely helpful.As one would expect for a book published 15 years ago, the prices are not current.However, have found that the descriptions, commentary and recommendations to be spot on.

Traveled from Narita to Tokyo to Sendai/Matsushima and Hachinohe and have been impressed with the accuracy of the contents.The Japanese system of train travel is incredibly organized.

We will use this book as a basis for traveling again.

5-0 out of 5 stars Japan rail
I have read parts of the book and think it will be a great help when travelling in Japan.I have been to Japan 3 times because my daughter lives there and I think I am ready, with the help of this book, to start venturing out alone and taking some trips by train.I will be taking the book with me on my next trip.It is also important to know that you must purchase the rail pass before you go.
Very happy that Amazon reccommended it to me!

4-0 out of 5 stars Great Rail Info & Tips
I carried this and my partner carried LP.This had great info about hotels near the rails (very developed in Japan) which was money saving.If you have a JR pass (you must get it before you go .. allow at least two weeks to process), you save 10% at the JR hotels which are very nice, very reasonable but not touristy luxury.Another tip is that we found is that Japan is very reasonable for the single traveler since they charge by the person with a sometimes nominal "discount" for the second person.The Western chain hotels charge by the room with a nominal increase for the second person.So you could sometimes get two Japanese hotel rooms for about the same as a comparable Western hotel room (depending on availability, location, etc).Japanese Ryokens are also very good ... we stayed in one and are old enough that we were thankful that we didn't have to get up to go to the bathroom that night!Great if getting up off the floor is not a concern.

We also like to book as we go.In China there were many widely available inexpensive internet cafes.In Japan, there were free internet connections widely available (even in the bigger train stations), but you had to have your own computer.Many hotels had one or two available, some you had to pay or only certain tourist sites were available only occasionally were one or two computers free .. but sometime you had to wait to use them.Next time I'm taking a netbook .. couldn't buy in Japan because everything was in Japanese.If you could change the language of the operating system, none of the sales persons I talked to knew how (even at Sony).The keyboard is different also.You can do without if you are willing to spend the time tracking down a reasonably priced connection. One hotel had coin slots where you would deposit 100 yen (~$1.10) for 6 minutes.That's OK to check for emergency email or to update your contact info, but a lot to browse to find the best deal for your next hotel.We booked online .. several times Orbitz had better deals than Expedia, and they were usually significantly cheaper than the official hotel site.Also on these you are paying in dollars, avoiding exchange fees and (for us) falling exchange rates.We didn't take the time/money to explore the Japanese sites which I would have done w/ a cheaper connection.

He particularly focused on sites easy to access w/ the RR ... which includes a lot since Japan is so connected.Entirely adequate.However, if you are adventuring away from rails, coverage is more spotty.The only reason I'm giving it 4 stars is because of the index.I found it very inadequate unless you were looking up a city or area.When I read something I wanted to get back to, I made a notation of the topic and page on the back cover.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Fantastic Companion to a JR Pass
If you are planning on visiting Japan using a JR Pass you need this book.It is a fantastic collection of many venues available to those using a pass or just for those traveling by rail in Japan.

5-0 out of 5 stars This book is worth its weight in gold
If you are going to Japan and plan on traveling around a bit you absolutely have to get this book. It will pay you back a hundred fold. Literally. There is so much to see and do in Japan and if you want to travel a bit you have got to use the rail system which criss-crosses the whole country and will get you wherever you want to go fast and on time.

Now here is the gold in this book. Japan has a very special deal for tourists where you can get an unlimited rail pass (free ride) practically anywhere for either a 1 week or 2 week period. The cost of the pass is less than a single train ride from Tokyo to Kyoto. Which is a ridiculous bargain. But the caveat is that you have to purchase a voucher for the pass out of the country! And then when you arrive in Japan you cash in the voucher for your rail pass. I did all of this and am so happy I did. I rode around, all over the place from city to city, for free. I can't tell you how much money this saved me. The rail pass gives you the freedom to see what you want to see, and where, without even considering the cost.
This is the focus of this book. It tells you exactly where and how to get the rail pass, where to cash in the voucher, and how to use the rail system to see the country. Loaded with lots of great information about the stunning tourist attractions in the country.
If you are going to japan and want to travel around a bit, maybe see Himeji castle, Kyoto, Mt. Fuji, Tokyo etc. then simply buy this book. There is no question that it is money well spent.

The train system for outsiders: The Japanese train system is very laid out, very organized, very disciplined and on-time. But it can be hard for a foreigner to understand. There are different types of trains and different train lines, you can reserve a seat etc. This book helps you figure all that out.

One caveat: The rail system in Japan is composed of the rails from several different companies so the Japan Rail Pass will not be good on every track and every train, or on the city subway systems but that doesn't matter much.It's good on the vast majority of rails and trains. So glad I got this book! ... Read more


12. Japan at War: An Oral History
by Haruko Taya Cook, Theodore F. Cook
Paperback: 496 Pages (1995-04-04)
list price: US$17.95 -- used & new: US$9.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1565840399
Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
This groundbreaking work of oral history captures for the first time ever the remarkable story of ordinary Japanese people during World War II. In a sweeping panorama, Haruko Taya and Theodore Cook take us from the Japanese attacks on China in the 1930s to the Japanese homefront during the inhuman raids on Tokyo, Hiroshima, and Nagasaki, offering the first glimpses of how this century's most violent conflict affected the lives of the Japanese population. Japan At War is a monumental work of history--one to which Americans and Japanese will turn for decades to come. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (30)

5-0 out of 5 stars Thank you to the authors...
I am writing a novel, part of which involves wartime Japan. One must gather all kinds of materials in order to set a story in the real past. There are better sources of basic data of course, but I have found nothing that even approaches the power of Japan at War to stir my imagination. It is a source of the most essential kind--one which preserves atmospheres (to be received at greater or lesser depth, depending on the reader). The quality of being at war is here for anyone with the sensitivity and experience to receive it, and I thank the authors for this gift.

5-0 out of 5 stars Flamedamper
This is an important book and will be a most rewarding reading experience for anyone who is interested in what life was like in Japan's miltitary, navy, police, and civilians during Japan's war with China from 1937 on through WWII. The underlying message is quite clear --- war is hell, to quote Kenneth Roberts (see his "Oliver Wiswell", 1940). After reading the Cook's book and Richard B. Frank's book "Downfall" I settled into the inescapable conclusion that ending the war quickly was, on international and personal scales, the kindest deed we could have done for the Japanese people (and also for the US). We can look back on it now as a period when the entire Japanese population, incuding its government, voluntarily held itself in the sway of emperor-god worship together with a belief in the omnipotence of fighting spirit. It is also clear that accused war criminals who pleaded that they had to kill innocents in obedience their superior should be allowed such a claim in their defense, whenever it could be shown that violating the order meant their own death, as was the usual case.

This book has 77 narrations by 67 different contributors of oral history, each covering several pages or more. The contributions are grouped into 24 topics whose time-ordered succession ties the entire collection into a highly readable narrative. I especially appreciated the paragraphs written by the authors to give the background of the contributor and to provide some perspective on each topic. The accounts are not for the faint-of-heart --- expecially of those who worked in Unit 731, where they did medical experiments but were excused from war crimes trials.

If you are looking for an example of a fighting spirit that overcomes the most formidable odds, read about the one-eyed Zero pilot Sakei Saburo. No Allied warrior that I know of came close.

I just wish that the authors, who certainly found plenty, could have found a few more to tell their stories of front-line combat. But then, those soldiers were the most likely not to have survived the war.

5-0 out of 5 stars Simply brilliant oral history
This book will make you laugh out loud, angry, or simply awed by the twists of the human spirit- both good and evil.The stories are exceptional and I cannot praise the Cooks enough for creating this document!If you are a student of history, much less, a student of Japanese history, this book should be on your shelf.

5-0 out of 5 stars Japan At War: An Oral History, by Haruko Taya Cook & Peter Cook
I rarely go all in for history books of this type. As an academic it is not in my nature to suspend or withhold criticism.Oral histories typically suffer from a certain blindness to strategic considerations, and end up being little more than advocacy for personal preferences held by the author, disconnected from the reality of the people, places and times of historical events under examination.That is NOT the case with Haruko Taya Cook and Peter Cook's "Japan At War: An Oral History".

In the case of the Cooks' "Japan At War: An Oral History," I have no criticism or suggestion for how it could have been made better, save for my lingering wish that there was more to read of it.The interviewees' stories of personal experiences during the war are well told, well edited, well organized and well chosen. At the same time, the authors preserve an overall context in the strategic picture of what was happening at that time and why.

Without hesitation, I rank it as one of my all-time favorites, and whole-heartedly recommend it to anyone interested in history, World War II, Japan, the Far East, or human frailty, vice, cruelty and endurance.

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Oral History of Wartime Japan
How do I describe in words the emotion this book evokes.It simply can't be done.Of all the books I have read on this era of Japanese history, this one had the most impact by far.Oral histories are valuable because they reveal the side of history you don't hear about in dry history books, they reveal the human side of tragic events in this case.Anyone interested in learning about Wartime Japan must read this book. ... Read more


13. Peeps at Many Lands; Japan
by John Finnemore
Paperback: 42 Pages (2010-07-24)
list price: US$14.14 -- used & new: US$14.13
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1153744678
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
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Product Description
The book has no illustrations or index. Purchasers are entitled to a free trial membership in the General Books Club where they can select from more than a million books without charge. Subjects: History / Asia / Japan; ... Read more


14. Discover Japan (Full Color Country Guides)
by Chris Rowthorn
Paperback: 400 Pages (2010-04-01)
list price: US$24.99 -- used & new: US$12.13
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1741799961
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Experience The Best of Japan
Make the most of your trip abroad – Lonely Planet’s full color Discover guides highlight the best a country has to offer while still providing an authentic and memorable experience.

Full Color Throughout
Full of color images and maps – makes planning as inspiring as the journey itself
Color-coded navigation

Easy-To-Use Structure
Easy-to-use tools include: color-coded chapters, color thumb tabs, dynamic color spreads on major highlights and
Easy-to-read planning sections throughout

Highlights
Special front-of-book chapter on the top 25 can’t-miss experiences
Features the must-see attractions and unbeatable experiences
Focuses on key cities and regions

Itineraries
Country-wide itineraries take you step by step though the country – broken out by interest, theme and length of trip
Region-specific itineraries help you plan more deeply for the regions you are most interested in

Local Experts
Major attractions include insights from local experts on what not to miss
... Read more

Customer Reviews (33)

3-0 out of 5 stars Good introductory guide for your trip planning
Lonely Planet is now producing more than just their usual guides.Discover Japan does not claim to be an exhaustive guide to travel in Japan, but rather a guide to assist you in your planning.For those who don't want to work too hard at planning a trip, they've attempted to plan trips for you by providing itineraries that will point you to the "Best of Japan".Keeping in mind that everyone will have their own opinion about what "best" is, this guide can be a great start to your travel planning.
The guide is organized by regions: Tokyo area, Kyoto and Kansai, Central Honshu, Northern Honshu and Hokkaido, Western Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu, and Okinawa and the Southwest Islands.They are highlighted on a map at the opening of the book.The pages are color coded in accordance with the map so you can quickly jump to the region you are interested in.Each chapter (region) is then divided into Highlights, The Best..., Things You Need to Know, and Discover....
Also included is a "Brief Guide to Japan", helpful if you're not sure what you're getting yourself into.This chapter will help build your excitement about travel to Japan with beautiful pictures and descriptions of the amazing things on offer.Next is "Japan's top 25 experiences" and Japan's Top Itineraries.This could make your travel planning easier if you're not inclined to figure it all out on your own.
Typical of Lonely Planet are the quick guides to everything from money conversion, how to use a telephone, what kind of hours are typical of most businesses and a brief translation guide.
While planning a trip to Japan, this guide was one of several I used from the beginning (what do we really want to see?), through to how to best get around, where to stay, and how to manage our money.You could use this as a stand-alone guide but I wouldn't recommend it unless you're comfortable allowing someone else to do your planning for you.It would be possible to grab this guide, loosely plan your trip, and only use this.My personality would never allow me to take a trip that far without a lot of research, including the most crucial element: someone who has been there.
As my trip was cancelled (postponed!), I can't speak to the accuracy of the information included.But this is an easy to use, well laid out guide with beautiful photographs, detailed maps, and descriptions of the wonders of Japan.A great little guide with which to begin your planning.Happy Travels!

3-0 out of 5 stars Nice guide, although some information suspect
This is a nice guide book, which includes the usual information, maps, currency info, hotels, restaurants etc. I've not had the opportunity to travel to Japan to really know the level of accuracy of the information, but certainly some things I've read in it seem immediately inaccurate (such as a statement about Japan being a cheap country to visit - NOT!)

5-0 out of 5 stars Not everyone likes guide books, but this one is great.
Their are folks out there that look at guide books, and think of the comedic musing of your stereotypical tourist.They see an middle class ignorant looking couple, touring the touristy spots out of the travel guide, and missing all the real culture.I don't agree with that view.In 1995, I was going to check out a school in Vancouver, BC, and not only did I find a really great bed and breakfast, but everything I wanted to see about the city was in the book. It had suggestions on how to travel, the best way to get around (Skytrain), and In a weeks time I visited a large Chinese Zen garden, Gastown, Chinatown, a famous park, a science center, a Harley Davidson museum, an IMAX, rode the airboat shuttle across the bay to a large marketplace, visited the university, an amusement park, looked at apartments, and spent a few days in walking distance to the school, (Digipen) I eventually attended that Fall. The guide book definately helped.

So what does this one have thats so good.For starters it's well organized, it goes way beyond the guide book I had for Vancouver.Not just sights and hotels, but maps, photos, language, exchange rates, business hours, and even cultural dos and don'ts.Some inside information even tells you how to apply before you travel, for a very cheap rail pass that's only for foreign travelers, and can only be purchased outside of the country, and before your trip. It allows you inexpensive fare on the train system between Japans cities.A must have if you intend on a tour of the sights, and not just staying in one place.

There is an entire section on things you need to know, if you want to for instance, to drive a car. What time of year an area is at its most crowded. How money is used in Japan, is for instance, unlike our credit culture here, the Japanese use ATM's, and cash much more than credit, so your Visa card may not open as many doors for you in Japan.It goes on to talk about the police high degree of authority, and other important things.This book is definately one (and I plan to one day), to read much of before you plan to take a trip to Japan, and definately something to bring along for reference.

4-0 out of 5 stars Great little guide!
Disclosure: I have owned and used only one other travel book in my life, so I don't have much to compare this one too. I am simply giving my impressions as a novice travel planner.

First off, I actually went to Japan!! This year! I spent 6 weeks in the Kansai region for a language program, and I traveled to Osaka, Kyoto, Nara, Tokyo, Shirakawa-go, Takayama, Gifu, Inuyama, Hiroshima, Himeiji, Sekigahara, Mt. Koya, and Mt. Hiei. I got this book before I left, but unfortunately forgot to take it with me. I did read the entire section on the Kansai region and some highlights of Gifu prefecture before I left. So as you might guess, my review will focus heavily on the section of the book featuring the Kansai region.

The book is nicely arranged: it starts out with some important things to know, gives some suggested itineraries, and then presents places to visit divided by region. Each region contains a regional map and a list of highlights of the region. It is then divided into cities in the region, giving some history, maps, and general information, before listing the attractions.
At the back of the book is a valuable little section called "Japan in Focus". It explains some about the history of Japan, the food, and various aspects of travel that are useful to know (such as explaining ryokan and onsen). I missed this section the first time I went through the book (I thought it was just another region section). I think it would have been much better placed at the beginning of the book.

I do agree with some other reviewers; some of the attractions given prominent positions should have been smaller, while some of the attractions shoved into the background should have been brought forward, but I am sure not everyone would agree with me and you can't please everyone. I don't believe that anyone should rely on a single source of information when planning their trip. I used this book to get an idea of what was out there and places I might want to visit, then I did more extensive research online. This book isn't all that big, and that is one of the things I like about it - it is very portable. And for its size, I think that it did an excellent job of choosing which attractions it included. One thing I do concede is that it spent too many pages on Kyoto. Of the number of pages devoted to the Kansai region (home to tons of famous and beautiful historical sites), more than half is focused on Kyoto. I had mixed feelings about Kyoto. It did have many interesting places to visit, but after all the idealistic pictures I saw before going, I had expected a bit more. I think that if I had actually stayed in the city itself rather than take day trips from Osaka, I might have enjoyed it more.
Note: Kinkakuji is beautiful, but if you've seen a picture of it, then there isn't really much of a reason to see it in person. It looks just like its pictures - from all angles. It does have nice grounds though. Instead, visit Kiyomizu-dera!

If you plan on spending a few nights in the Kansai region, the Kansai Thru Pass is a must. The three day pass (currently 5,000¥, also available as a two-day pass for a little less) lets you ride trains and buses unlimitedly (though not JR lines) for approx $17 a day (and the days do not have to be consecutive!). The JR pass is awesome (must be purchase outside of Japan!), but only if you intend to do long distance travel. The book covers the JR pass quite well, but I had to scour the internet to find the KTP. WHY?! To get anywhere in Japan you have to take a train, but for some reason the only train pass that is advertised anywhere is the JR pass, which is a little over $300 for one consecutive week.

I loved the Kansai region, but my favorite part of Japan was the Central Honshu area, specifically the areas in the Japanese Alps. Takayama and Shirakawa-go (and Inuyama) were the highlight of my entire 6-week trip. The book's section on this area is not very long, but it contains the good general information, and the information on the bus from Takayama to Shirakawa-go was accurate.

One reviewer complains that the book inaccurately represents Japan as a inexpensive place to travel. I agree with them (though $100 is ridiculous), but I can also see why the book might make that statement. Admissions were generally below $5, if you stay in a youth hostel (pretty nice actually) it is about $35 a person, and if you get the train passes you can get all over the place for a relatively cheap price. Don't think that it will be cheaper to travel in Japan than it would be in America, but remember that America also doesn't have nearly the amount of cool stuff to see! My lodging was paid for by the program I was with, but outside of that I spent about $1200 the entire trip (6 weeks or 42 days), which averages a little under $30 a day. This includes all transportation, admittance, food, and souvenirs.

The last thing I have to say is that the color really mattered! I didn't think that it was all that important that a travel book have colored pictures (the last one I used didn't), and admittedly the color didn't reveal any missing details, but seeing the images in color just made it seem more real and made me much more excited about going to the places pictured. I also think that it made the maps easier to read.

3-0 out of 5 stars If only the best aspects of this guide could be combined with the best of regular LP!
I have a slight love-hate relationship with Lonely Planet (LP) guides.Few other guides have the same amount of information that LP does, which is why I usually end up consulting them at some point before a trip.Yet, LP is rarely my favorite guide for a particular locale: in Europe I'm a Rick Steves guy, in the Americas I often rely on Moon, and the Rough Guide pulls in front ofttimes as well (Japan is one of those places, in my humble opinion).The reason is that the phonebook-like wealth of information that LP has is its strength and its weakness.It's a great reference if you know exactly what you're looking for, but just as you don't tend to pull out the phonebook for ideas on how to spend your evenings or vacations, I find LP guides to have a great deal of information without being informative many times: with SO much information and very little guidance on what should be a priority and what shouldn't be, it is often difficult to tell the memories-of-a-lifetime locales from the ho-hum places that you really should pass by even if you had a year to spend in-country.The "highlights" that regular LP Japan recommends are beyond questionable: I find those for the "around Tokyo" section to be particularly perplexing as most of them aren't even around Tokyo (Chichi-jima is about as "around Tokyo" as Seoul, Korea) yet neglects to recommend true highlights right next door, like Kamakura.

It is for that reason that I was intrigued by and excited by "Discover Japan" when I stumbled upon it in my local library.More attractive, more selective, more opinionated, it was a refreshing departure from the typical LP guide.Yet, in the process, they managed to lose the one thing that makes LP unique: the wealth of information necessary to actually plan a trip.Discover Japan is closer to Insight Guides or Eyewitness in that respect than even Frommer's or Fodor's, let alone the Rough Guide or the regular LP Japan.In other words, it's a good book to "get you excited about going to Japan" (although on that count, I'd think the more image-intensive Eyewitness or Insight might be better) but once you've decided to go, you're going to need one of the "big boys" to make that happen.

That said, what Discover Japan does well, it does really well.I love the "Highlights" sections, which go into just enough detail (plus pictures) to help you prioritize where to go and what to experience (a weakness of the regular LP).I really like "the best of" sections as well, although it would be nice to have more "the best VALUE" recommendations as well (i.e. I'd love to stay at Tawaraya in Kyoto ... but where can I get a similar experience for a hundred a night instead of a thousand a night?).I LOVE the region-specific itineraries.Often tourbook itineraries are either so obvious as to be worthless (Someone with a week in Japan should spend a few days in Tokyo and a few days in Kyoto?WOW, who'd have guessed!?) or so elaborate as to be worthless except for those few people with months and months of free time on their hands.These itineraries are great, however because they allow a great deal of flexibility due to their modularity; i.e. they allow for a great deal of customization.Pick the dots you want to connect and with some creativity, this book will help you find the way.For example, for my next trip to Japan I'd like to explore more of Central Honshu but was struggling with how to organize a week or so there: the regular LP gives you the "dots" (and almost 100 pages on the region) but little guidance for how to connect them.Discover Japan actually gives you so ideas on how to actually plan your trip once you've narrowed in on some regions you want to see be it for just a few days or for a week or two.Want to spend a few days in Northern Honshu followed by a few days in Central Honshu?This book can help you do that.Want to spend a week in Northern Honshu followed by a few days in Central Honshu?You can do that too!

As a result, I found myself thinking that LP would have an awesome tourbook on its hands if it took the best of Discover Japan and the best of their regular guides and put them together in one book.Keep the valuable information from the regular guide (perhaps cutting out some of the fat along the way: not every town and village in Japan needs a shoutout!) and add some of the material from Discover Japan that makes it easier to prioritize and plan the trip with its ideas of where to go and what to do.I have yet to find a Japan travel guide that fully satisfies me (the Rough Guide comes closest) but I feel like even though this guide alone doesn't get the job done, it has some ideas and elements well worth exploring for inclusion for the regular LP guide.Of course, LP would rather you just buy both guides so I don't really have high hopes that they'll take me up on my idea! ... Read more


15. Rivals: How the Power Struggle Between China, India, and Japan Will Shape Our Next Decade
by Bill Emmott
Paperback: 352 Pages (2009-06-16)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$2.48
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0156033623
Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars
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The former editor in chief of the Economist returns to the territory of his bestselling book The Sun Also Sets to lay out a fresh analysis of the growing rivalry between China, India, and Japan -- what it will mean for America, the global economy, and the twenty-first-century world.

Closely intertwined by their fierce competition for influence, markets, resources, and strategic advantage, China, India, and Japan are shaping the world to come. Emmott explores the ways in which their sometimes bitter rivalry will play out over the next decade -- in business, global politics, military competition, and the environment -- and reveals the efforts of the United States to turn the situation to its advantage as these three powerful nations vie for dominance. This revised and updated edition of Rivals is an indispensable guide for anyone wishing to understand Asia's swiftly changing political and economic scene.
... Read more

Customer Reviews (12)

4-0 out of 5 stars Right on the money
For a white guy, this author is fairly insightful into the affairs of the Orient and South Asia.He marshals a ton of facts to flesh out his thesis that the 3-way interplay between China, Japan, and India is going to determine human affairs for the next decade.The author looks at the history of Asia, how various wars and empires over the past 1000 years have influenced how the different nations now view each other.The author also includes important material relating to the two Koreas, Vietnam, Tibet, Pakistan and other smaller nations that are often caught up in the gamesmanship between Japan, India and China.Citing both politics and economics, the book lays out possible scenarios for the future, and the consequences of each.Overall, a good book that is fairly easy to digest.

3-0 out of 5 stars An important book, but...
There is nothing like reading a book by someone who has both the theoretical and practical knowledge about the subject. Bill Emmott is an accomplished journalist that has spent a lot of time in the East talking to the right people. In this book he tells us his version about things to come. Although I do not agree with the version that he presents, that doesn't mean that I didn't enjoy the book. The author backed up his conclusions with numbers that leave little area of disagreement. Based on what he saw in the past, and what the numbers of today tell him, the author was brave enough to share with us a glimpse of the future that he believes is awaiting China, India and Japan. However, the main problem with the book is that, in my opinion, the information that the author uses to arrive at his conclusions is not the type of information that is useful in telling us where things are heading in the larger picture. The author looks at the GDP, the growth rate and the currency exchange rates and from this data he attempts to dissect the Chinese and Indian giants. The author does use historical information, but only those that go back one hundred years. Ideological differences have no place in the book. In fact, in some areas we get a glimpse of the communist goddess historical necessity dressed up as the capitalist goddess economic necessity. This Goddess will eventually force China to introduce democratic reforms due to social pressure that arises from the economic situation. It is assumed throughout this book that the world that we live in today is the final phase of a world that has been changing and transforming itself ever since man has taught himself how to farm. We are living in a capitalist world that follows the model set forth by the West, and this is how things will remain. All China and India can do is become strong partners in this world. I know that all of this is beyond the scope of this book, but what I am saying is that there are so many things that are taken for granted in this book. The book claims to inform us how the rivalry between India, China and Japan will form our future. The author's view of the future is both shortsighted and purely materialistic. I know a lot of people don't have a problem with materialistic views, but I do.
Putting my above argument aside, this is a very good book and everyone interested in China and India should read it. I do believe that this book deserves four stars, but I can't ignore the fact that the author has a one dimensional outlook.

5-0 out of 5 stars A bold and clear analysis of Asian geopolitics
"Rivals" is an excellent and very readable book containing clear, bold analyses of how the rivalry among China, Japan and India will likely pan out in the 21st century. There are three separate chapters each devoted to giving an update and overview of current developments in these three countries followed by two superbly argued roundups recalling historical rivalries and forecasting future flashpoints, that will appeal to anybody with an interest in the geopolitics of Asia.The coverage isn't exactly balanced though - there is a lot more of China and Japan than there is of India for the simple reason that India is rather the odd man out when measured by the intensity of historical relationships among the three. Bill Emmott's book makes a welcome addition to the reading list of students of current affairs. Highly recommended.

3-0 out of 5 stars Dry but useful
Too many data, not enough analysis. Too dry, not enough interest. Nonetheless, it is worth the read for anyone interested in global politics.

1-0 out of 5 stars Summarizable in Two Sentences!
Pakistan, India, China, and Japan are similar Asian trade and military rivals that are rapidly building their defense forces.The U.S. recent nuclear pact with India (we agreed to supply it with nuclear fuel and technology, while they agreed to continue not signing the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty and keeping 8 of its 22 reactors "off-limits" to IAEA inspectors) was aimed at a better balance of power on the Asian continent. ... Read more


16. The Holy Grail of Macroeconomics, Revised Edition: Lessons from Japans Great Recession
by Richard C. Koo
Paperback: 352 Pages (2009-08-17)
list price: US$24.95 -- used & new: US$16.06
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0470824948
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
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Product Description
The revised edition of this highly acclaimed work presents crucial lessons from Japan's recession that could aid the US and other economies as they struggle to recover from the current financial crisis.

This book is about Japan's 15-year long recession and how it affected current theoretical thinking about its causes and cures. It has a detailed explanation on what happened to Japan, but the discoveries made are so far-reaching that a large portion of economics literature will have to be modified to accommodate another half to the macroeconomic spectrum of possibilities that conventional theorists have overlooked.

The author developed the idea of yin and yang business cycles where the conventional world of profit maximization is the yang and the world of balance sheet recession, where companies are minimizing debt, is the yin. Once so divided, many varied theories developed in macro economics since the 1930s can be nicely categorized into a single comprehensive theory- The Holy Grail of Macro Economics ... Read more

Customer Reviews (13)

4-0 out of 5 stars The Lessons From Japan's Economic Stagnation
Koo discussed big and important macroeconomic themes but I found the analysis of Japan particularly relevant. Good reference book for global investors!

5-0 out of 5 stars The only thing missing is the role of corruption.
When the banksters can grift $4-trillion and walk away with more from a bankster running the Treasury, why say that a Balance Sheet Recession is all that is happening ?

Dr. Koo's analysis is both seminal and built on rock. He understands how contracts and asset busts can hold organizations tight, even over decades. He ties the historical record together. There will never be another piece of writing done about the major cycles of macroeconomics that leaves out Dr. Koo's work and retains competence.

Still, what of massive theft ? Major players at Goldman, Sachs and The Fed knew what was happening in the Sand States. They knew about the 50,000-odd felony conspiracies to defraud mortgage systems. They knew the economy was being set up for a Second Great Depression.

They chose to steal more, or to say nothing. On this, Dr. Koo is also silent. Its not his job. And he wasn't here in the U.S. for the Sand State scams. Blame's not his. Problem remains that no one has nailed this one, despite that The Fed has the numbers in detail.

Wikileaks ???

4-0 out of 5 stars important work on debt aversion
This book is a good account of the phenomenon of debt aversion.The thesis of the book is pretty straightforward and is that, after asset bubbles burst and businesses are technically insolvent through liquidation analysis, they are likely to pay down debt irrespective of monetary policy.The fact that the businesses are technically insolvent despite market prices is described as being a function of information asymmetry and bank incentives.

This realization is deemed to be the missing link to complete economist's understanding of how to bridge fiscal macroeconomic thought and monetary economic thought and the solutions required in the aftermath of a burst asset bubble.Discussing the shortfalls of Friedman's positions on the demand function for money to be a function of nominal interest rates, it is argued that when one is in the position of being insolvent yet operational, the focus shifts from using lending lines to maximise ROE to using free cashflow to minimize the debt that is causing this insolvency. When this market regime is upon us, it is the need of the government to use fiscal policy to fund the output gap.

I think this is pretty accurate as an analysis of the problems that arise in monetary policy when the world is in fear of the phenomenon that hurt them (being burdened with debt that is greater relative to the asset base one had assumed would back it) and this aversion has macroeconomic repurcussions.My only criticism is, I dont think this is as obscure a result as is described.Most ecnomists realize how output gaps can arise, how debt aversion can form.Richard Posner, who is a judge, talks about debt aversion off-hand as though its well known.So all in all i think its a god perscriptive piece on a very real phenomenon we deal with but its not revolutionary and this phenomenon is discussed by others (though few have gone in to as much detail about it).

5-0 out of 5 stars Brilliant attack on conventional policies
Richard Koo, chief economist of Tokyo's Nomura Research Institute, has written a fascinating and important book. He claims that capitalist economies have two phases: the ordinary phase, in which firms aim to maximise profits, and the post-bubble phase, when they aim to pay off their debts. He believes that he has found the missing link of economics: "corporate debt minimisation, therefore, is the long-overlooked micro-foundation of Keynesian macro-economics."

It's still boom and bust. Koo claims that in the boom phase, monetary policy works, but not fiscal; in the bust phase, only fiscal policy works, not monetary. He shows how monetary policy cannot fight a slump. He contends that only huge fiscal stimuli, government actions to boost domestic demand, can prevent slumps.

Koo claims that, in the 1930s depression, in Japan's recession since 1990, and in the present crisis, the problem was the private sector's lack of demand for loans, not a lack of funds from the central banks. Contrary to the consensus, these depressions were not caused by the wrong monetary policy.

How to fight a slump? Cutting spending to reduce government debt is the road to disaster. In the 1930s, both President Hoover and Chancellor Bruning insisted on balancing the budget, which crashed the US and German economies. In 1945 the British government's debt was 250% of GDP, but the country survived. Between 1933 and 1936, President Roosevelt raised government spending by 125%, so GDP rose by 48% and tax revenues rose by 100%. But in 1937 he changed tack and cut spending: industrial output fell by 33%.

Japan's recession (caused by falls in the value of its assets - land and loans) destroyed 1500 trillion yens' worth of wealth - three years of Japan's GDP. (The USA's depression lost it one year's GDP.) In Japan, monetary stimuli failed, so the Japanese government proposed irrelevant Thatcherite supply-side changes, like privatising the post office.

In 1997 the Hashimoto government, under IMF pressure, cut spending and raised taxes to balance the budget. As a result, output fell for five quarters, Japan's worst post-war meltdown, and the budget deficit rose from 22 trillion yen in 1996 to 38 trillion in 1999. In 2001, the Koizumi government did the same - with the same result. It also tried the monetary policy of quantitative easing. But this did not increase lending or the money supply. It was irrelevant.

Subsequently, the Japanese government adopted a policy of no fiscal consolidation without growth, i.e. no spending cuts or tax rises before private-sector demand recovered. This fiscal stimulus prevented a 1930s-style depression; by 2005, firms had started to borrow again.

Again, in Germany's balance sheet recession of 2000-05, "the Maastricht Treaty prevented it from applying the fiscal stimulus it needed. This deepened the recession", as Koo observes.

Finally, he notes the harmful effects of the free movement of capital: "in view of the explosion of cross-border capital flows during the past two decades contributing to adverse currency movements and the widening of global imbalances, some restrictions on those flows may be desirable." He also notes the damage done by free trade: "that market forces have not only failed to rectify trade imbalances but actually made them worse suggests that some kind of government action may be necessary."

5-0 out of 5 stars Every page and paragraph a gem of information
I am a neophyte in economics, I should have put my attention hear years ago -- being a "do gooder" at heart. The past three months I have delved into the dismal science. I never anticipated such divergence of opinions and theories. The Holy Grail of Macroeconomics is simply a gem of knowledge. Of the many books/texts I have aquired, this one is the best in gaining the meat. I mean by this, it is written in a dense style, reminisent of college texts years gone by -- yet each paragraph holds my attention and interest, unlike so many others. The author's analysis and view points are clearly stated with ample examples and "evidence." This fine writting is simply not of the "dismal science" but a wonder of clear analysis and clarity of writting. ... Read more


17. Tokyo Vice: An American Reporter on the Police Beat in Japan (Vintage Crime/Black Lizard)
by Jake Adelstein
Paperback: 352 Pages (2010-10-05)
list price: US$15.95 -- used & new: US$9.45
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0307475298
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
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Product Description
A riveting true-life tale of newspaper noir and Japanese organized crime from an American investigative journalist.
 
Jake Adelstein is the only American journalist ever to have been admitted to the insular Tokyo Metropolitan Police Press Club, where for twelve years he covered the dark side of Japan: extortion, murder, human trafficking, fiscal corruption, and of course, the yakuza. But when his final scoop exposed a scandal that reverberated all the way from the neon soaked streets of Tokyo to the polished Halls of the FBI and resulted in a death threat for him and his family, Adelstein decided to step down. Then, he fought back. In Tokyo Vice he delivers an unprecedented look at Japanese culture and searing memoir about his rise from cub reporter to seasoned journalist with a price on his head.Amazon.com Review
A Q&A with Jake Adelstein

Question: What drew you to Japan in the first place, and how did you wind up going to university there?

Jake Adelstein: In high school I had many problems with anger and self-control. I had been studying Zen Buddhism and karate, and I thought Japan would be the perfect place to reinvent myself. It could be that my pointy right ear draws me toward neo-Vulcan pursuits--I don’t know.

When I got to Japan, I managed to find lodgings in a Soto Zen Buddhist temple where I lived for three years, attending zazen meditation at least once a week. I didn’t become enlightened, but I did get a better hold on myself.

Question: How did you become a journalist for the most popular Japanese-language newspaper?

Jake Adelstein: The Yomiuri Shinbun runs a standardized test, open to all college students. Many Japanese firms hire young grads this way. My friends thought that the idea of a white guy trying to pass a Japanese journalist’s exam was so impossibly quixotic that I wanted to prove them wrong. I spent an entire year eating instant ramen and studying. I managed to find the time to do it by quitting my job as an English teacher and working as a Swedish-massage therapist for three overworked Japanese women two days a week. It turned out to be a slightly sleazy gig, but it paid the bills.

There was a point when I was ready to give up studying and the application process. Then, when I was in Kabukicho on June 22, 1992, I asked a tarot fortune-telling machine for advice on my career path, and it said that with my overpowering morbid curiosity I was destined to become a journalist, a job at which I would flourish, and that fate would be on my side. I took that as a good sign. I still have the printout.

I did well enough on the initial exam to get to the interviews, and managed to stumble my way through that process and get hired. I think I was an experimental case that turned out reasonably well.

Question: How did you succeed in uncovering the underworld in a country that is famously "closed" or restricted to foreigners? Do you think people talked more openly to you because you were American?

Jake Adelstein: I think Japan is actually more open than people give it credit for. However, to get the door open, you really need to become fluent in the spoken and written language. The written language was a nightmare for me.

You’re right, though; it was mostly an advantage to be a foreigner--it made me memorable. The yakuza are outsiders in Japanese society, and perhaps being a fellow outsider gave us a weird kind of bond. The cops investigating the yakuza also tend to be oddballs. I was mentored into an early understanding and appreciation of the code of both the yakuza and the cops. Reciprocity and honor are essential components for both.

I also think the fact that I’m too stupid to be afraid when I should be, and annoyingly persistent as well--these things didn’t help me in long-term romance, but they helped me as a crime reporter.

Question: Do you feel that investigative journalism is being threatened or aided by the expansion of the Internet and news blogs, and the closing down of many printed newspapers?

Jake Adelstein: In one sense it is being threatened because investigative journalism is rarely a solo project. It requires huge amounts of resources, capital, and time to really do one story correctly. Legal costs and FOIA documents are expensive things. The bigger the target, the greater the risk and the more money is required. The second-biggest threat to investigative journalism is crooked lawyers and corporate shills who sue as a harassment tactic. In general, it’s rather hard and time-consuming to be an army of one. It took me almost three years to break the story about yakuza receiving liver transplants at UCLA on my own. The costs in financial terms were immense, and so were the losses along the way. A team of reporters could have done the work much faster, probably.

However, these things said, blogging is also a great source of news that might go unreported, or be overlooked, by the mainstream media. Twitter, too, has had an interesting impact, actually helping a journalist get out of jail in the case of James Karl Buck. We’re beginning to see kind of a public option in investigative journalism, too--such as things like ProPublica. They do an awesome job at investigative journalism, partly through donations, and they have a great web site. So the Internet is not all bad for investigative journalism, as long as we proceed with caution and forethought. At the same time, real intelligence-gathering work actually requires you to put down your cell phone and your computer and get off your ass and meet people in the real world. As odious as it may be, we have to sift through garbage, pound the pavement, and visit the scene of the crime. Not all answers can be found in front of a keyboard, or on Google, and the “it’s all in the database” mentality is the bane of reporting and often generates shoddy reporting.

The individual journalist can do great investigative work--it’s just a lot harder, and usually financially difficult to do unless you’re independently wealthy, like Bruce Wayne. Most of us don’t have the time or the resources or the luxury of holding down a day job and doing investigative journalism on the side, as a hobby.

Question: What do you hope your American audience can learn from your book?

Jake Adelstein: I think everyone will take away something different from the book. I suppose you can learn a lot about how journalism works in Japan, how the police work, and how the yakuza work. I would also hope that people take away from the book an understanding of some of the things I really like about Japan and the Japanese, things like reciprocity, honor, loyalty, and stoic suffering. I think in Japan, I learned how important it is to keep your word, to never forget your debts--and not just the financial ones--and to make repayment in due course. Perhaps that’s what honor is all about.

There’s a word in Japanese, hanmen kyoshi, which means, more or less, “the teacher who teaches by his bad example.” At times, I’m an excellent hanmen kyoshi in the book.

Everything I’ve learned that’s important to me is in the book somewhere. I hope there’s something universal in the contents beyond just making people aware of cultural differences between the United States and Japan, or reiterating the importance and value of investigative journalism. Like a book I would choose to read to my children, I hope there’s some kind of moral to it all. Maybe the real lesson is to be kind and helpful to the people you care about whenever you can, because it’s good for them, and good for you, and your time with them may be much shorter than you imagined.

(Photo © Michael Lionstar)

... Read more

Customer Reviews (75)

5-0 out of 5 stars A prodigy speaks
It's hard to add something new to the existing reviews. It's harder not to put pen to paper.

Mr Adelstein succeeds like no other in painting an on-the-street, in-yer-face, truly hands-on picture of himself in the midst of nasty stories a-plenty unfolding in Tokyo underworld territory.

Evil lurks there, but the story ends well. Sort of. An extremely well-written memoir of his Japan reporter days at the prestigious Yomiuri, Tokyo Vice magically ended on top of my book stack, beating at least a dozen hard-hitting contenders, with its racy approach and truly magically written dialog.

This man's a writer by God's grace and, hopefully, that same agent will keep him and his family safe after the exposés contained in this fair volume.

5-0 out of 5 stars Amazing read!
I read this book in just a few days. This book reaches into a part of Japan that few can realize. He makes you vividly aware of the personalities around him-beyond the plastic unreal perception Americans may have of Japanese culture in general. I found myself shocked more than a few times. I was inspired by his bravery and that of his Japanese friends to do good in the world. Adelstein portrays himself very humbly and very human and never arrogant as some reviewers alluded to. He is at first a witness to the Japanese underworld and becomes more and more a participant in terms of his interaction and true influence over events that would play out. This book will stick in your mind and to some degree change you.

5-0 out of 5 stars Blazes from the start and burns to the end!
Oh, is this a wonderful supernova of a book.I usually refrain from reviewing where so many have gone before me, but there are two points I just had to make.No. 1, his take on Japan and the Japanese are absolutely spot-on; the people here are real people, some of the more notable crimes since the 1990s are deftly weaved throughout the story, and the dialogue captures the feel of how people really talk -- I found myself replaying parts of it in my mind in Japanese, and the immediacy was searing.And No. 2, this book is brutally candid in the most compelling way you can imagine.Mr. Adelstein holds nothing back, but instead expends everything he has to put honesty on every single page.It is the kind of honesty may make you gasp or wince, or perhaps induce the feeling of a cold stone at the bottom of your stomach, but it is utterly admirable nevertheless.There is no greater reward for the reader than to be told by the author just How Things Really Are, and Mr. Adelstein has done exactly that.

Truth burns -- but what a glory it is to behold.

5-0 out of 5 stars Not a Book But a Life
Tokyo Vice cannot be called simply a book. It is a life - a slice of life of one American reporter working for one of the largestnewspapers in Japan. This slice of life account opens up a window view into another world that lies just under the surface of what we think of as the norm. Some people fall into this world by ill luck from debt and poverty, some fall into it by the weight of their vices or the need for thrill, and some are born into it having little choice. Tokyo Vice shines a light on this darker world and some of its people and the people who try to keep back the darkness.

Tokyo Vice is not juicy pulp fiction type book, however, and this may be where some readers looking for a quick fix will be disappointed. Those looking for sordid tales of murder and sex will find it here but these details are told matter-of-fact as opposed to macabre glee. Tokyo Vice does not glamorize Tokyo's Underworld. It serves as a warning of the reality of sex-slaves, brutal men, murderous perverts, diseased junkies, battered prostitutes. This is not a world you want to associate with if you can help it.

But even more compelling than the cold look at Tokyo's darker side, are the characters the author encountered in his time in Japan. His yakuza-looking cop friend is one of the best characters in the book. He is one of those good people in this world you never hear about but should. Another character is the indomitable female reporter who fought against the prejudice towards the mentally ill. And then there is his foul-mouthed full-of-life prostitute friend who may have made a courageous sacrifice for her friend and the fight against human trafficking.

Tokyo Vice may be a book about bad people who have done terrible deeds but it's also a book about good people who have fought hard and strove to make a difference and that alone makes it worth a read.

5-0 out of 5 stars Troubling but a good read
I never expected this book to be relevant to me on the level it was. I expected it to focus on the glamorous aspects of crime, maybe toss out a few sympathetic victims, and maybe have a few details about types of organized crime.

Instead it's truly about humans, culture, a society, and how the aspect of that society that can be so neatly contained in a word like "vice" really affects people in a world where it can not be likewise confined.

It is a poignant and highly personal book. It starts with such optimism, as if Adelstein is speaking in his former voice as an excited journalist. He almost lost me in the beginning because I wasn't sure if this was going to be a book about nothing but male bravado. Towards the end I'm inclined to believe him when he begins to talk about the other side of things. There's a noticeable shift in the persona of the author that suggests to me he's truly talking about things that make him uncomfortable.

Adelstein's writing style is almost stream of conscious, and yet very guarded. I actually don't mind the insights into his sex life that are getting so much criticism here, as I think in a way they work to explain how an individuals own sexuality is influenced by what sex means in different contexts. In fact I appreciate that they were there. I think if he were bragging about his sexual exploits it would have come off differently.

I wish I'd known a little more about where this book was headed though. It becomes very painful. In the beginning the author seems to be giving us the exciting story of a young man with an incredibly unlikely career, but in the end we get a glimpse into the other side of things and the consequences the author and others face.

It illustrates the true cruelty that goes on, and the emotional manipulation. Leaving some one to live their whole life with the blame of their friend's torture and death?

This is true evil.

I'm still consolidating my thoughts on this book, but it's one I'll be thinking about for a while. Which is ultimately the most you can ever ask of a book, right? ... Read more


18. Dave Barry Does Japan
by Dave Barry
Paperback: 224 Pages (1993-09-14)
list price: US$13.95 -- used & new: US$6.29
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0449908100
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
"One of the funniest peole ever to tap tap on a PC."
PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER
Not since George Bush's memorable dinner with the Japanese prime minister has the Land of the Rising Sun seen the likes of a goodwill ambassador like Dave Barry. Join him as he belts out oldies in a karaoke bar, marries a geriatric geisha girl, takes his first bath in public, bows to just about everyone, and explores culture shock in all its numerous humorous forms, including: Failing to Learn Japanese in Only Five Minutes (Or: "Very Much Good Morning, Sir!") ; Humor in Japan (Take My Tofu, Please!); Sports in Japan ("Yo, Batter! Loudly Make it Fly!"), and more.
Amazon.com Review
Is this comedic tour of Japan discreet, tasteful, orpolitically correct? The answer, thank god, is Naaah! Yet DaveBarry's travelogue never grows mean-spirited, and he's always ready tolaugh at his own country--and by extension, himself. An example: "Iunderstand that, even if two Japanese have worked together for manyyears, neither would dream of using the other's first name. WhereasAmericans are on a first-name basis immediately, and by the end of thefirst day have generally graduated to 'Yo, Butthead!'" ... Read more

Customer Reviews (79)

5-0 out of 5 stars VERRRRY FUNNY BOOK!!!!
I read this book years ago and laughed so hard I was crying. It is verrrrrrrrry funny. I hope you enjoy it if you decide to read it.

3-0 out of 5 stars Chuckle
Reality-based comedy. Dave Barry isn't a guru on Japanese culture by any stretch of the imagination, moreover this book is now pretty dated as it was published about ten years ago. It was a worth a chuckle or two back in the day, but now that I have lived in Japan, I wonder if I might find it offensive. Then again, I might find it a complete riot. Time and situations have a funny way of playing with you. In any case, I believe that as long as you don't take it seriously and don't use it as a reference to Japan, you'll probably enjoy it.

4-0 out of 5 stars Funny if dated
Dave Barry wrote this book in the 80s--when the Japanese were apparently taking over the economic world and Americans were trying to salvage some self respect in comparison to their more efficient Eastern neighbors (this, of course, was before Japan entered their 10-year recession of the 1990s and America went in search of other economic rivals like China and India).

The book is really quite funny in the first few chapters.Especially Dave Berry's discussion of Kanji and Kabuki theater.My wife, who teaches Japanese, reads it to her students after exams.Later, he has to emphasize how the Japanese are very homogeneous, which is true--but the discussion is as funny.Barry tries to emphasize how despite their superior efficiency, Japanese don't always have as much fun as us Americans.

Overall, I think it's still a fun book to read if you're headed to Japan.And Dave Berry, as we all know, is definitely one of the great comedic writers of our time.

1-0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
In this hastily written book Dave Barry sees Japan through the eyes of an American. And all he sees is everything that isn't American about Japan. His whole proposition is that what he does not understand is therefore silly, incompetent, wrong or fodder for ridicule. I found it a disappointing read. He skims the top of a rich and subtle culture and does not bother to go deeper than his initial and basic reactions to anything that he finds new and challenging. In the end, for anyone non-Japanese, everything about Japan is new and challenging and that's why we go there. Yes, I had a few laughs along the way. But in the end I was tired of Dave Barry's continual assumption that 'I am right. You are all wrong' attitude. I would not recommend this book to anyone who wants to know anything about Japan after reading it. The title says it all.

3-0 out of 5 stars Not as funny as I'd hoped
Dave Barry received an offer from Random House to travel to Japan and write a book about it.How could he turn down a free trip to Japan?Once he gets there, he quickly realizes just how large the language barrier is and finds himself wishing he had learned just a little Japanese.

This was my first book by Dave Barry, but I've read his column a few times.It was interesting and I did find some of it funny, but for the most part, I didn't laugh a lot.I don't know what it is about me.A lot of the stuff that people tell me is laugh out loud funny just don't seem that way to me.I got the same feeling when I read Dave Sedaris and Bill Bryson.I read all the rave reviews and go in with high expectations thinking I'm going to laugh so hard I cry, and end up barely laughing at all.I guess I need to find someone that has a similar sense of humor to my own. ... Read more


19. A Year in Japan
by Kate T. Williamson
Paperback: 192 Pages (2006-03-01)
list price: US$19.95 -- used & new: US$7.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1568985401
Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
The Land of the Rising Sun is shining brightly across the American cultural landscape. Recent films such as Lost in Translation and Memoirs of a Geisha seem to have made everyone an expert on Japan, even if they've never been there. But the only way for a Westerner to get to know the real Japan is to become a part of it. Kate T. Williamson did just that, spending a year experiencing, studying, and reflecting on her adopted home. She brings her keen observations to us in A Year in Japan, a dramatically different look at a delightfully different way of life. Avoiding the usual clichés -- Japan's polite society, its unusual fashion trends, its crowded subways -- Williamson focuses on some lesser-known aspects of the country and culture. In stunning watercolors and piquant texts, she explains the terms used to order various amounts of tofu, the electric rugs found in many Japanese homes, and how to distinguish a maiko from a geisha. She observes sumo wrestlers in traditional garb as they use ATMs, the wonders of "Santaful World" at a Kyoto department store, and the temple carpenters who spend each Sunday dancing to rockabilly. A Year in Japan is a colorful journey to the beauty, poetry, and quirkiness of modern Japan -- a book not just to look at but to experience. ... Read more

Customer Reviews (44)

4-0 out of 5 stars A wonderful journey
It's nowhere near actually being there, but Kate T. Williamson's A Year in Japan manages to capture some of the magic that lies within Japanese culture. With her journal notes paired with such detailed watercolor illustrations, Williamson delves into the intricacies of everyday life and presents an eye-catching tour through the heart of Japan. A place where karaoke is taken seriously, tofu is sold from wooden carts pushed by elderly men and the people believe that a rabbit on moon pounds rice into mochi.

Some concepts, like riding a bullet train (shinkansen) and the difference between a maiko and a geisha, I'd already learned through my bf's adventures, but I thoroughly enjoyed this visual journey. Once I picked it up one morning, I couldn't set it down until I'd spent the entire year with her.

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3-0 out of 5 stars Ok for a quick read, not for research.
I got the book and had it finished in the same day, a good book, very fast. The book is very personal and not full of facts, its a good look at the authors view of Japan, but if your looking for some facts about Japan then try another book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful!
This is an amazing book. I lived in Japan for two years, and this book gave my family a feeling for why I loved spending time in Japan so much. She finds fascinating little details of the culture, which she illustrates in nice watercolors and writes about.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Love Affair with Japan
I bought this book just before moving to Osaka, Japan, and I must say Williamson's observations of the small details of that strange and endearing land are so perfect, that by the end of my time there, I felt as though "A Year in Japan" was MY travel journal. Her whimsical illustrations done in delicate watercolors, and her brief writing to accompany the images, are not meant to be a travel guide informing you on the best udon shop or the cheapest place to stay, but rather to point out all the little things that make Japan unique. I will forever treasure this book as if it were my own story of Japan.

This book would be perfect as a gift to someone who is interested in Japanese culture or for someone who has lived there. It would also make a great coffee table book. It is NOT meant to be a travel guide. There's very little to read; it's more about the illustrations.

3-0 out of 5 stars A Stylish Travel Journal
Like Williamson's other book "At a Crossroads," this book is also stylishly illustrated and personal. The author definitely has an eye for details and has made astute observations about a foreign culture. It's an enjoyable, pictorial journal of one's post-college travel. A pleasant read. ... Read more


20. Japan - Culture Smart!: the essential guide to customs & culture
by Paul Norbury
Paperback: 168 Pages (2006-09-05)
list price: US$9.95 -- used & new: US$5.30
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1857333098
Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars
Canada | United Kingdom | Germany | France | Japan
Editorial Review

Product Description
Culture Smart! provides essential information on attitudes, beliefs and behavior in different countries, ensuring that you arrive at your destination aware of basic manners, common courtesies, and sensitive issues. These concise guides tell you what to expect, how to behave, and how to establish a rapport with your hosts. This inside knowledge will enable you to steer clear of embarrassing gaffes and mistakes, feel confident in unfamiliar situations, and develop trust, friendships, and successful business relationships.

Culture Smart! offers illuminating insights into the culture and society of a particular country. It will help you to turn your visit-whether on business or for pleasure-into a memorable and enriching experience. Contents include


* customs, values, and traditions
* historical, religious, and political background
* life at home
* leisure, social, and cultural life
* eating and drinking
* do's, don'ts, and taboos
* business practices
* communication, spoken and unspoken


"Culture Smart has come to the rescue of hapless travellers." Sunday Times Travel

"... the perfect introduction to the weird, wonderful and downright odd quirks and customs of various countries." Global Travel

"...full of fascinating-as well as common-sense-tips to help you avoid embarrassing faux pas." Observer

"...as useful as they are entertaining." Easyjet Magazine

"...offer glimpses into the psyche of a faraway world." New York Times
... Read more

Customer Reviews (4)

4-0 out of 5 stars Good for short visit
I read this book on the plane to Japan.It was very informative and prepared me well for a week's visit.

4-0 out of 5 stars A different approach to Japanese culture
This book seemed a little more balanced than most in its approach to discussing and explaining the ins and outs of Japanese culture.
At first, I thought it seemed negative and even possibly sarcastic at times. I was annoyed and almost offended. I wasn't sure I wanted to keep reading. But I was finding things in it that I hadn't learned from discussions, animes, online information, or the other books I had read such as "The Japanese Way" and "Japanese Cultural Encounters."

It didn't include personal stories nor was it academic-style. It is easy to read and easy to find what you're looking for. It's worth reading, re-reading, and keeping as a reference. It contains some useful information, including dos and don'ts and some of the not so glamorous realities of Japanese life, culture, economy. I did find some typos, which was surprising, but not anything big. The writing style was less personal and has a "unique" style compared to other Japanese culture books.

I liked it a lot and found it a good addition to my collection of books to understand the Japanese mind and way of life.
I recommend adding it even if you have other culture books.

I will note that it seems aimed at probably Americans or Europeans who have not lived in Japan, who do not speak Japanese, and who have not traveled to Japan. It's not extremely in-depth, but more a small, compact guidebook to get out when you need it and a quick, handy read overall.

5-0 out of 5 stars Wonderful overview-
On a recent trip to Japan, my travel companion had this book.I referenced it almost nightly to understand some of the things we were seeing and read it thoroughly on my return.I should have had it first, but in any case it was perfect for what I wanted-which was a quick understanding of the customs and some of the 'different' things that we saw-I would definitely recommend it.

4-0 out of 5 stars A must read
This is a very helpful book that explains the culture very well. Every aspect that most wouldn't even know about. ... Read more


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