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Favorite guide books for Japan and other advice for planning?

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Mar 25th, 2015, 02:43 PM
  #1
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Favorite guide books for Japan and other advice for planning?

I'm beginning to plan a 3-week family trip to Japan for June 2016 and have been enjoying reading here. I've saved a lot of information, and visited japan-guide.com, but I'd like at least one book from which to get inspiration and information.

DK? Lonely Planet? National Geographic? Fodors? Anything else?

I'm not sure yet if I'll be going - I have mobility issues and, while I don't mind sitting and waiting for my family in areas where I can't manage, I'm not sure if it will hinder them too much... So I'm planning for my husband, my to-be 17yo son and 14-yo daughter, possibly with slow mama along. We're coming from the Pacific Northwest US.

The kids are interested in manga and anime and Japanese culture, my husband doesn't feel like it's a vacation unless he drives 1000 miles (not really exaggerating - he drove 1000 miles on a trip to Hawaii!) but we're looking forward to taking a bullet train, too, and we might be able to convince him to not drive (pros? cons? might be easier for me?). We all love Japanese food, beautiful scenery, and historical sites.

Thanks in advance for any advice you share!
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Mar 25th, 2015, 03:49 PM
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Where do you plan to go? For many places, it makes no sense to drive - the train is faster and more comfortable. There are some areas where it might make sense to rent a car.

Fodors has a good Japan guide book.

What kind of mobility issues do you have? Do you need a wheelchair or are you ok with a walker/cane? Lots of temple gardens have lovely benches to sit and rest.
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Mar 25th, 2015, 04:13 PM
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I've never used a traditional guide book.

I hit japan-guide.com heavy and hard. A LOT.

This site is invaluable.

I have a Diane Durston book a friend recommended which I love, but didn't use for any planning, more for reading about traditional arts, crafts and food producers in Kyoto on a cultural level.

I scour the web for amateur travel blogs, find that kind of content often more useful than tourist content or even regular tourist guide books.

I use a walking stick much of the time, not all, and can't walk huge distances, or do a lot of steps at a time, but managed well in Japan, there may be some activities/ destinations you choose to sit out, but I think many will be fine.
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Mar 25th, 2015, 05:29 PM
  #4
kja
 
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I used japan-guide extensively, but also used several guidebooks. The guidebook I found most helpful, by FAR, was Japan Solo -- even though it is ridiculously out of date! 2nd place went to Frommer's.

I hope you are able to convince yourself to go -- it is such a wonderful place!
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Mar 25th, 2015, 08:27 PM
  #5
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I really want to go, but I don't want to be the cause of the family missing out on things they'd like to do. I went to Paris with my mom and daughter and niece last summer and we had to limit the walking, use taxis, go slower...

I use a cane most of the time, with bad knees and a bad hip, plus a neurological condition that wanes and waxes, affecting my energy level. On a good day my max distance is ~3-4 mi (managed 6.7mi one day in Paris, but felt it!); on a bad day it's <1 mi. Stairs are always an issue - the more stairs I do, the less walking distance I can manage. Hot tubs help.

Where do we plan to go? Well, so far a couple days in Tokyo and more in and around Kyoto. But this is part of the problem - I have a hard time visualizing locations from the online guides and really could use a book to orient myself. I'd also like to show it to the kids and husband so we all can mark pages of things in which we are interested - the more markers, the higher the priority.

Obviously in the cities a car would be useless, and we do all want to travel in at least one bullet train, but then there's my husband to think of ;-) So I'm hoping to find ideas for nice driving loops that will enable us to experience more of the countryside and more remote sites of interest, while indulging the husband.
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Mar 25th, 2015, 08:49 PM
  #6
kja
 
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Your family is very fortunate to benefit from your generosity.

Consider identifying places where you would enjoy sitting for some time, perhaps with a book, while your family explores elsewhere. Some examples in Kyoto: I seem to recall a lovely tea room at Ryoanji that can be reached via a flat path, and a wonderfully positioned gazebo in Heian-sa, also reached via a flat path. You could take taxis between selected sites while your family explores more actively, and then you can compare notes over meals....

The "New Solo Japan" -- the guidebook I used in 2006, which was outdated even then -- is still available. What I loved about that guidebook were its extraordinarily detailed maps and its comprehensive coverage of things to see -- it covered sites that weren't covered in ANY of my other sources (or were covered in only 1 or 2).
http://www.amazon.com/New-Japan-Solo.../dp/4770021879
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Mar 26th, 2015, 08:40 AM
  #7
 
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I hope you decide to go. Start planning cities and then sights you and/or your family want to explore. Post them here and then these wonderful people with a wealth of knowledge can point out great spots to sit, relax and people watch; whether a lovely bench or tea house as was suggested near your places of interest. Keep us all posted!
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Mar 26th, 2015, 09:39 AM
  #8
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Thanks for all your advice and encouragement. I'm sure I'll be posting many times as we narrow down our wish list.
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