Japan By Rail: (2nd Edition)
by Ramsey Zarifeh
ISBN: 1-8737-5697-6 496 pp
The eagerly awaited, fully revised and expanded second edition of Japan By Rail was published in 2007 and is a definite alternative to challenge for space in your luggage along with the other so-called "major" guides on Japan.
This handy book is geared to visitors arriving with the Japan Rail Pass and planning to see the country by train. With some of the world's quickest and most punctual rail services, seeing Japan by train can be a joy in itself, whether you are speeding through the cities along the Pacific coast by bullet-train or chugging through the mountains of Kyushu at a more sedate pace.
Much of the first half of the book thus takes the reader through everything you need to know on the Japan Rail pass, Japanese railways (JR in particular), possible routes and essential train etiquette. The level of detail is impressive and the practical information for the visitor both on Japan in general and Japanese railways in particular makes this book pretty much a must for visitors who a) have bought the Japan Rail Pass and b) like traveling by train.
The book is also useful for residents of Japan looking to see more of the country by rail - a quick, greener alternative to the nation's packed and stressful highways and expensive domestic air network.
The heart of Japan By Rail are its guides to the country's two main gateways - Tokyo & Osaka - and detailed route guides to the cities and attractions of Japan's four major islands: Honshu, Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku.
A typical city guide contains a well-spaced map with place names in English and Japanese in the key, what to see and do in each place with opening times and prices plus information on the main station, local transport, where to stay and where to eat and drink.
Author Zarifeh rounds out the book with four appendices: a Japan rail route guide, glossary, useful Japanese phrases and train timetables.
There are also some reasonable color photographs and a number of special boxed texts on various points of interest. Recommended.
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