I lead a seemingly endless search for detailed, definitive books about Japan for the English-speaking traveler. One day I came upon an unexpected treasure at a local used bookstore. It was Kodansha's Gateway to Japan, third edition, by June Kinoshita and Nicholas Palevsky. OH. MY. GOSH. If you are as intriqued and interested in Japan and its history as I am, then this is the book for you. Yes, this particular guide dates from 1998, but the stories of Nobunaga, Hideyoshi, and Ieyasu are not going to change.
I also own a nice Fodor's Guide to Japan, 19th edition, which has continually proved its worth. The book is designed clearly, the information is detailed, and it is told from an insider's point of view, due to the efforts of the many contributing authors. This is an honest go-to guide that will give the traveler a sense of security.
Neither of these guides contain pictures, but it is not necessary. We have Google Images for that, don't we?
Guide Books on Tokyo & Japan