Japan Guides

For general information on Japan, there are any number of guidebooks and web sites. Many people will be familiar with the Lonely Planet guide, and it’s a good one. However, I’d like to recommend another source of information that, though now a bit long in the tooth, still stands out above the rest: Japan Inside Out, a massive guidebook written by longtime Japan (and Kansai) resident Jay Gluck (who sadly passed away a few years ago). It’s an astonishing 1341 pages and includes 135 maps & plans, 85 sketches, and many times the information and insight contained in any other guide. The authors had to use a tiny font and adopt a very terse, abbreviated writing style to get it down to even this size! The amount of information can be overkill; if you're new to Japan, you might want to use a more general guide to find the parts of Japan you'd like to see, then consult this one for more detailed information. For more experienced cyclists, though, this guide is worth its weight in gold; it can give you historical data and point you to accommodations even in many of the tiny out-of-the-way places that you'll most likely be heading to on your cycle tours.

Speaking of weight: a friend once told me "Yeah, I like the guidebook; I'm thinking of getting a set of wheels for it." True, it is massive and heavy; don't even THINK about carrying it around in your bikepack (tear out or photocopy/scan the relevant sections and take those along). But the analogy of wheels is correct in one other respect: it will get you wherever you want to go, and in style. Far and away the most complete and authoritative guide to Japan every written.

Japan Inside Out, by Jay & Sumi & Garet Gluck, ISBN-4-89360-035-4 , Library of Congress 88-92781 (c) 1992.

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