The Best Travel Books About Japan

Planning to visit Japan soon or simply curious to know more?

The Best Travel Books About Japan

Planning to visit Japan soon or simply curious to know more? These books can help make the most of your journey – from cultural differences and language tips, they will prepare you for an unforgettable adventure!

A Geek in Japan is an informative guide to Japan that disproves myths and addresses common queries from Westerners who grew up playing Pokemon, manga, and video games.


Unbeknown to most Japanese, an alternate Japan exists beyond Tokyo’s bright lights – one where snakes slither down school corridors and bears prowl through dense forests. Scottish writer Iain Maloney presents us with this world in this book about his experience teaching English on Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET) programs in rural northern Japan.

This book is an engaging, lighthearted read for anyone who has lived abroad and had to adapt to new cultures, with plenty of humor as well as insights into some of the challenges involved with living overseas and answering that age-old question ‘When are you coming home?’.

Cover art depicting an atmospheric night view of an obscure backstreet izakaya makes clear that this travel guide stands apart. Instead, its focus lies in adding depth and nuance beyond the offerings from major publishers; while must-see sights remain, readers can easily read entries about more obscure locations to uncover hidden gems along their travels.


Travel writing has long been one of the great forms of entertainment and escape in history. From Herodotus adorning ancient Greece with poetic phrases to Bill Bryson narrating along the Appalachian Trail, travellers’ tales provide us with access to faraway locales without leaving home.

While travel restrictions due to COVID-19 might prevent you from visiting Japan directly, these books will transport you there instead. From Shinto monks and street food vendors to anime characters and Okinawan centenarians – these books give insight into Japanese people and culture like no other source can.

This handy little guide book is an essential companion when visiting Tokyo or Kyoto, featuring top restaurants and attractions from both cities. Though some aspects have changed since publication (such as Passnet card availability), this handbook remains indispensable both to first-time visitors and longtime Tokyo residents alike.


With travel restrictions still in effect and pandemic threats still present, books offer an excellent way to experience Japan without leaving home. From popular culture to rich history, these books will show you another side of this fascinating country.

Donald Richie’s classic account of his journey through the Seto Inland Sea islands captures all of its subtle nuances and quirks with great accuracy, while for something lighter try this illustrated memoir written by a Frenchman living in Tokyo for six months.

The Monocle Book of Japan is an in-depth coffee table book covering every aspect of modern Japan, from fashion and food to architecture and retail. A great way to explore Japan is with either this coffee table-style book, or Haruki Murakami’s novel Kafka on the Shore – set in Takamatsu which is worth visiting, in which he explores how art and literature have faded over time from this city.


If you want a deeper insight into Japanese life and culture, and the value they place on nature, this book should be required reading. It shows how family life is interwoven with river life along the Ki River – serving as an emblem for their deep connection with nature and environment.

Kerr’s passion for traditional Japan can be found in his writing about tea ceremonies, kabuki theatre and bunraku puppetry from his rural Iya Valley home. While he laments many cultural traditions have vanished – from pachinko machines to salarymen living poor lives – he also romanticises these arts that remain unparalleled globally.

From Okinawa beaches to island cuisine such as goya and bitter melon, this comprehensive guide is your perfect travel companion. Coverage includes both well-known spots as well as lesser known areas; along with detailed maps, tips and practical information written by an English author who lived in Japan – an indispensable companion for any ambitious traveler!

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