To be sure, Tuttle's Tokyo Travel Pack is a small guide: just 128 pages, but packed with invaluable information for everyone who spends a few days in and around Tokyo. The book covers essentials such as a basic overview over Japan's geography, climate, language, religion and government as well as handy tips on how to make most of your visit, no matter how short it may be. In that sense, it also caters to the business traveler who wants to spend a well-deserved afternoon off with sightseeing.
Written by Rob Goss, a 16-year resident of Tokyo who regularly contributes to magazines such as Time and National Geographic Traveler, this guidebook represents all the author has learned about Japan and its capital, namely that "there is more to almost every aspect of Japan and Tokyo than initially meets the eye", from its traditional neighbourhoods to ultra-modern, neon-soaked streets.
The first chapter - extremely useful to those who cannot spend more than a few days in the city - covers the "Don't Miss" sights: the Meiji Jingu Shrine; Omotesando and its glitzy shopping districts; the indispensable Tsukiji Fish Market; Japan's tallest structure, the Tokyo Skytree; Senso-ji and Asakusa; Sumida River cruises; Yanaka; Akihabara for tech freaks and anime otaku; the Edo-Tokyo Museum; Roppongi Hills and Midtown; the Oedo Hot Spring in Odaiba; Shinjuku Gyoen Park, as well as a hike up Mount Takao. Each location is concisely covered one just one handy page, with additional information on access, opening times and admission fees if applicable.
"Exploring Tokyo", the second chapter, contains more comprehensive information on eleven locations in and around Tokyo, including places that can easily be reached from Tokyo within a day: Kamakura, Yokohama, Nikko, and Hakone/Mount Fuji. Most locations come with a small map and include information on local eateries and culinary specialities as well as events and festivals.
The third chapter compasses the "Author's Recommendations", each with a prepended "best" denomination on topics such as hotels, restaurants, nightspots, shopping, kid-friendly attractions, galleries and museums, parks and gardens, sporting and outdoor activities, as well as events and festivals.
Chapter Four comprises the essential "Travel Facts", condensing all the small print travelers need to know into a A-Z guide, from Arriving via Narita and Haneda airports to Visa issues: etiquette, health and safety, money, rudimentary Japanese, tips for disabled travelers, and much more.
The guide includes a free folded map, extremely helpful if you are unable to connect your mobile device to the internet. Nothing beats a good old map when dealing with taxi drivers or when asking for directions at the police box. All in all, Tuttle Travel Pack Tokyo is a well-designed and practical guide for the first-time visitor to Japan's capital as well as to foreign residents keen on learning as fast and as much about the city as possible.