Japan planning at Stanfords and the best Japan travel guides

Mark and I are going to Japan this May for a friend’s wedding in Tokyo. We’ve both been to Japan before so this time we both want to see some new sights. We booked our flights some time ago and we will be flying into Tokyo and out of Fukuoka. Now we need to make some decisions about what we want to do in between! We decided it would help to get out of the house and where better than Stanfords in Covent Garden for travel inspiration?

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Stanfords is a one-stop shop for travel guides, maps, and travel literature. Covering three floors, Stanfords has pretty much anything you need for your next trip, or if you don’t know where you want to travel to next it’s a great place to find some inspiration! You can also get travel accessories, globes, or even a bar globe to store drinks in!

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For general guide books, I tend to go for Lonely Planet guides as I’m used to the layout and I think their coverage is good for sights as well as transport and restaurant recommendations. They have two general travel books for Japan, Japan and Discover Japan, which can be confusing. If you’re going for the first time and are mainly visiting Tokyo or Kyoto, then Discover Japan probably has enough information for you. However, if you’re visiting Hiroshima or somewhere further afield, these areas are just covered in a “Best of the Rest” section towards the end of the book. We went for Japan so there would be plenty of coverage of the areas around Hiroshima and Fukuoka.

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Because we’re planning to visit a few different towns and cities along the coast during our trip, we’re probably going to use the train. Travelling by rail is a really popular way to get around and Japan by Rail is a great book for researching itineraries and general advice. Although it carries a fair price tag, getting a Japan Rail Pass can be the most cost-effective ticket if you’re doing enough journeys, especially on the bullet train. Hyperdia is a great website for checking rail routes and fares so you can work out ahead of time whether a JR Pass will save you money. If you do decide to get one make sure you get it before you enter Japan – you cannot buy them once you get there.

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We’ll be spending at least a few days in Tokyo because that’s where the wedding is. We’ve both been before, in my case 3 times already, so we’re looking for some new and off-beat things to do. Mark bought me this little CITIx60: Tokyo book for Christmas with a selection of recommendations from local creatives. It has some great suggestions of things to do from cafes and shops to markets and art galleries. It’s definitely given me some new ideas!

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Anyway, back at Stanfords, armed with our little library of Japan travel books, we got ourselves a drink and a table in the Stanfords Coffee House surrounded by maps on the walls. We ordered some drinks and a yummy chocolate and Sicilian orange cake and got to work. It’s a perfect environment for planning a trip as the staff are super friendly, there are other people around you talking about travel, and there’s wifi too. It isn’t a huge space, but after work on a Friday it was fairly quiet and there were plenty of tables available.

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The results of our planning session: we’ve decided to spend 5 nights in Tokyo, and then we’re going to head straight down to Hiroshima. We’re missing out Kyoto and Osaka on this trip because we’ve both been before. We’ll be in Hiroshima for 4 nights and from there we can cover plenty of the surrounding sights in the region like the Inland Sea and Shimanami Kaido. We’ll finish with 2 nights in Fukuoka to end our trip. Now on to finding places to stay! So excited!!

This is not a sponsored post and I have not been asked to review Stanfords or any of the books in this post.

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