Over a year ago, I wrote one of my first 5 Faves posts on my favorite specialized travel guides. (By specialized guides, I mean books that focus on one specific topic or area of expertise, whether that be the best traditional inns or detailed introductions to a specific neighborhood or prefecture.) Since that post, I’ve continued to collect a number of other additional guides. (Like I said before. Guidebook junkie. Clearly unreformed.)
I’ve posted some of these finds to the Uncover Japan facebook page over the past few months, but if you didn’t manage to catch them, here are the latest specialty guides gracing my shelves:
- Kyoto Machiya Restaurant Guide by Judith Clancy – At the end of the 20th century, an organized effort to preserve Kyoto’s individual old merchant’s homes arose. While originally focusing on converting properties into rental homes, the new trend has been to refurbish Kyoto’s machiya into atmospheric cafes and restaurants. This guide highlights some of the more memorable machiya eateries in Kyoto; on my last trip, it steered me to two unforgettable meals.
- Food Sake Tokyo by Yukari Sakamoto – The author’s experience as a culinary professional and a former depachika (department store food floor) employee in Tokyo made her the perfect person to write this guide. Expect a comprehensive overview of the foods used in Japanese cuisine, as well as suggestions of eateries for various Tokyo neighborhoods. Her advice helped me avoid a three hour wait time for breakfast at Tsukiji Market last month.
- A Flower Lover’s Guide to Tokyo by Sumiko Enbutsu – I loved Sumiko Enbutsu’s walking guide to Tokyo and I am a confirmed fan of Japanese gardens, so it was only natural that I gravitated to this guide. Organized by month, the book provides a history of each bloom in Japanese culture as well as a few selected spots for flower viewing.
- Kyoto: City of Zen by Judith Clancy – Clancy’s writing is solid in this small-size coffee table choice, but it’s the photography by Ben Simmons that really makes this a worthwhile addition to my library. It certainly brought to my attention – in a beautifully vivid way – the sights I have yet to see in Kyoto.
- Osaka Insider by Patrick Mackey – This is the least favorite of my new acquisitions but as regional guides to Osaka are virtually nonexistent, I hoped it would be worth ordering. The organization and lack of pictures in the guide is not to my liking, but this is a self-published effort on the part of Mackey, long time Japan resident and blogger on Osaka and Fukuoka, and his passion for his former home city shows. I’ll put it to the test on my trip to Osaka this week.