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For a country that lived in self-imposed isolation until 150 years ago, Japan has not hesitated in making up for lost time since the world came calling. Anyone who's eaten sushi or used a Sony Walkman feels they know something about this slinky archipelago of some 6800 volcanic islands tucked away off the far eastern coast of Asia, and yet, from the moment of arrival in this oddly familiar, quintessentially Oriental land it's almost as if you've touched down on another planet.
Japan is a place of ancient gods and customs, but is also the cutting edge of cool modernity. High-speed trains whisk you from one end of the country to another with frightening punctuality. You can catch sight of a farmer tending his paddy field, then turn the corner and find yourself next to a neon-festooned electronic games parlor in the suburb of a sprawling metropolis. One day you could be picking through the fashions in the biggest department store on earth, the next relaxing in an outdoor hot-spring pool, watching cherry blossom or snowflakes fall, depending on the season.
The Rough Guide to Japan is the ultimate guide to this fascinating country. Features include:
Need a great map of Japan? The Globetrotter Map of Japan is a great choice!
It's always nice to know a few words in the language of the country you are visiting. If only to say "Please" and "Thank You". You can learn some basic words and phrases with IN FLIGHT JAPANESE - an audio CD course that is perfect for the traveler.