Japan – Eyewitness Travel – book review

You can travel to many countries and get by without a guidebook. You might get lost, you might wish you had the address of a hotel that had sheets on the beds, and you might possibly even regret not taking a packed lunch… but you’ll get by. Japan is a bit more difficult to negotiate without a bit of professional advice.

Japan guide Japan is full of contradiction and enigma. It’s ultra modern in so many ways but it clings to its traditions. It has a matter-of-fact attitude to nudity in the communal bath houses but remains conservative in matters of morals. It’s a country that has embraced western-style fast food but offers death-dicing fish dishes and live octopus. Comic books are celebrated but religious festivals and rituals are still practised even by the young, who will pray for good exam results (although I expect lots of western students have secretly done the same).

This is a country that has caused anxiety in many a visitor. It’s not the threat of violence or antisocial behaviour (less likely here than most other countries) it’s the fear of making a social gaff, of offending a host or a colleague. Japan – Eyewitness Travel goes some way to steering you through the problems you might encounter when meeting the locals. There are few rules to remember but it’s a good idea to know what they are before you land in Tokyo.

The Japanese are polite and understanding of foreign visitors but you’ll be less embarrassed if you can conform to the general norm of behaviour. Take shoes for example… or rather take shoes off. You’ll be able to tell when removing shoes is appropriate. There will likely be several pairs of empty ones by a door and probably a pair of slippers as well. If in doubt… watch what others do.

Japan – Eyewitness Travel doesn’t leave much to chance. Everything is discussed, from dining etiquette to bathing etiquette. You might still feel a little out of place but at least this book will enable you to interact with the Japanese and leave a positive impression. You’ll learn about culture, history and religion and be able to make your own travel itinerary. The maps are superb and the photography is marvellous.

You can read a pile of books on Japan before you go. One of them should be Japan – Eyewitness Travel. You’ll only want to take one so let it be one that will introduce you to every region of this lovely country, that will offer dates of festivals, addresses of restaurants, and a great selection of hotels. Most importantly it will offer support to enable you to feel comfortable with this unfamiliar culture. This book will whet your appetite for the trip.

Japan – Eyewitness Travel
Published by: Dorling Kindersley
Price: £16.99
ISBN 978-1-4053-8592-9


Travel guidebook review by Chrissie Walker © 2018


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