I thought I would share with you some of the great books, zines and resources I have used in the planning of our forthcoming trip to Japan. Some I have had for ages, and have been a long-time inspiration; others have been ordered recently through reading other blogs and talking to people. Yes, it might look a little excessive - but I believe part of the fun is in the planning, and I have really enjoyed poring over this wealth of information and discovering little known and secret places that will form part of our adventures.
1. Hokkaido Highway Blues by Will Ferguson
This book was given to Jon years ago by a good work friend of his. We have both read it several times. It is an account of a Canadian guy's journey from the very southernmost to the very northernmost points of Japan during the cherryblossom season - all done by hitchhiking. The tales of small, off-the-beaten-track towns, people who drive him all over the countryside, and the predicaments his gets himself into are both touching and hilarious. And at the same time, he reviews places really well. Several of his highlights have made their way into our trip.
2. Our Japan notebook/planner
This notebook is full of our scribblings of possible places we want to see, maps, train journeys, accommodation, and random bits of information.
3. Little Tokyo Shops zine by Angela of signsaysopen
This little zine was pointed out to me by the lovely RubyJo. It is a guide of hancrafted and local shops in Tokyo, specialising in fabrics, crafts and homewares, with the odd cafe thrown in for sustenance. I printed mine out so I can take it with me, and hope to find some of these treasures in Tokyo whilst I am there.
4. A Year In Japan by Kate Williamson
I recently bought this book after doing a search for interesting books about Japan. It is filled with the most gorgeous watercolour paintings of the minutiae of Japan, accompanied with little essays about her experiences whilst she lived there. It has convinced my to see several things, like the Saiho-ji moss garden in Kyoto, even though I need to send a written application to visit!
5. Mini Address Book
I bought this about 2 years ago, and covered it with some washi (Japanese paper) that I bought in Melbourne. The idea was to write down any interesting tid-bits that I found in newspapers, library books, and recommendations passed on from friends. Back then, all I knew was that one day I would go to Japan - at the time, I didn't have the savings or the opportunity. But now, I have been able to read over it and remember little restaurants and shops that I have noted, and will try to visit them.
6. Pocket World Atlas
This atlas has traveled the world with me, and I have used it for reference whilst planning this trip.
7. Tokyo Superguide
I just downloaded and printed this awesome guide this week. Jon found it here whilst searching for good Japan blogs. It is seriously great for the hardcore fashionista/designer/cool person in Tokyo - I was overwhelmed just reading about the breakdown of shopping areas and hidden gems. I also love the design of the booklet itself - it folds and staples into a proper book. Fab.
8. Rough Guide to Japan
I am not a huge fan of Lonely Planet. I have used the Rough Guide for China and for India and I found them really good. Nice maps, helpful and straightforward suggestions for itineraries, accommodation and eating, and lots of small and out of the way places covered too. It has been a constant reference and will go with us to help out!
As well as these physical things, I have also found these great online resources:
Tokyo Shopping Guide