10 Best Books about Japan to Read Before You Visit

"Best Books about Japan" written on the left side of Japanese girl standing with an umbrella.

In this article, we are going to discuss the 10 best books about Japan that will provide you the deep information about Japan, its history, culture, tradition, customs, etc.

”Japan never considers time together as time wasted. Rather, it is time invested.”

 Donald Richie

As you all know that Japan is a developed country. It is the third wealthiest country in terms of economic condition in the world. Japan’s GDP is very high. As a result, per capita income is very high. Japan basically focuses on its service sector, therefore, Japan’s service sector is very strong as compared to other countries. Japan focuses very little on the agricultural sector.

Apart from this, Japan has a very surprising history. Whether in the form of the most powerful country in Asia during the 20th century or in the form of the most advanced country in technology in the 21st century, Japan has always created history from time to time. Even after World War II, after being fatally destroyed, Japan focused on its growth, and in a very short time, it again became one of the strongest nations all over the world.

If we talk about the travel and tourism industry of Japan, it promotes travel a lot. Even Japan usually spends much on its tourism infrastructure. There are many places, monuments, and natural property in Japan that attracts people spontaneously. Every place has its own history that had consisted of the past in itself. So, if you travel there, you will feel a different vibe.

But, if you want to know more about Japan, you will have to resort to books. For your convenience, we have selected the 10 best books about Japan that will provide you the deep information about Japan, its history, culture, tradition, customs, tourism, and food industry, etc

List of 10 Best Books about History, Cultures, Customs and Beauty of Japan

Kyoto: A Cultural and Literary History

AuthorJohn Dougill
Rating4.7 out of 5

Kyoto: A Cultural History” is one of the best books about Japan which highlights the history and culture of Japan. If you are planning to visit Japan, don’t forget to read it before visiting. This book helps in exploring cultural and historical places of Japan, thus makes your trip more interesting. It also focuses on its temples, gardens, and palaces that are testimony to many centuries of aristocratic and religious grandeur. In last, travelers interested in getting much more from Japan’s ancient capital than a travel guide could ever provide should also check out this book.

Pure Invention

AuthorMatt Alt
Rating4.7 out of 5

If you want to know more about Japanese culture and history and most importantly globalization, you must read this informative book. The author describes an intriguing journey of Japan from an unknown island to a world-leading country. The author takes you through fascinating tales of not only pop culture history but Japanese history since WWII. After reading it, It will not wrong to say that it is one of the best books about Japan. Even if you have no special interest in Japanese culture, you’ll enjoy this look at how much it has influenced your own culture.

Japanese Tattoos: History, Culture, Design

AuthorBrian Ashcraft, Hori Benny
Rating4.7 out of 5

Have you ever wondered how tattoos are becoming a symbol of modernity? This book will give you a deep insight into Japan’s tattoo history as well as take a look at its current fusion with pop culture and show us where it’s headed. ”Japanese Tattoos” is a book that is based on body art & tattoo as well as on Japanese History. Through this book, you will get acquainted with Japanese design, art, culture, and social lives that will help you to understand the whole of Japan. The language of it is simple and easy to read, so, if your English is weak, don’t worry about it.

A Geek in Japan: Discovering the Land of Manga, Anime, Zen, and the Tea Ceremony

AuthorHector Garcia
Rating4.7 out of 5

A Geek in Japan” is also one of the best books about Japan which reveal many interesting things about Japanese culture and its citizen. The author praised their work ethic and inspire the people to learn it from them. The author also pointed on the cleanliness of Japan and describes how it became one of the cleanest countries in the world. Apart from this, the author also describes some bad sides of it. For instance, Japan has the highest suicide rates, the Japanese work overtime and never see the kids or don’t give proper time to their family, etc.

Yokohama Yankee: My Family’s Five Generations as Outsiders in Japan

AuthorLeslie Helm
Rating4.7 out of 5

Yokohama Yankee” is an intriguing story of a Japanese family that uncovers political, economic, cultural, and racial ties and tensions. The book gives insight into not only the author’s life experience but the story of foreign influence in Japan since the mid-19th century. The author discovers his family tree and gets surprised when he finds many unexpected relatives. His relatives were spread over the world and his ancestors also changed many countries, which was shocking for the author. You will find more surprising information in this book if you read it.

Legends of Tōno by Kunio Yanagita

AuthorKunio Yanagita
Publication2008 (100th Anniversary Edition)
Rating4.6 out of 5

The Legends of Tono” is one of the most classic and important books on Japanese folklore by Kunio Yanagita that is set on the history and culture of Japan. It gives a glimpse of Japanese literature in a captivating manner that makes it more engaging. The author tried to maintain a great understanding of the native Japanese language, history, culture, traditions, and lore through this book. Since it is folklore, you will find it fictional. Apart from this, it is well-written and well designed. You must read it before visiting Japan.

Rashōmon and Seventeen Other Stories

AuthorRyunosuke Akutagawa
Publication2006 (Penguin Classics)
Rating4.6 out of 5

Rashomon and Seventeen Other Stories” is also one of the best books about Japan and its culture. You can call it the collection of short stories anthology that exemplifies Japanese literature as well as exemplifies classic American literature. These stories range from humorous, to historical, to agonizingly autobiographical that will give you a sense of Japanese culture and history. In a nutshell, this book can make you laugh, be emotional, and even cry. So, if you want to feel it, spend your time with this book.

The Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu

AuthorMurasaki Shikibu
Rating4.6 out of 5

The Tale of Genji” is one of the most popular Japanese literature that is the first authentic translation of the world’s earliest novel. Through this book, you can get information about Japanese culture, traditions, customs, history, politics, economy, etc. After reading it, you will be able to guess about the ancient history of Japan that is a cool thing about this informative book. The author made it easy to read and understand so that you do not face any problem and you can understand exactly what the author wants to say.

Rice Noodle Fish: Deep Travels Through Japan’s Food Culture

Author Matt Goulding 
Publication 2015
Rating4.6 out of 5

Japanese food culture attracts almost everyone, right? If you are planning to travel to Japan and you didn’t read it, you will not be able to enjoy it completely there. But if you read it before traveling there, it can add much enjoyment to your traveling. The book basically introduces the information about the different Japanese food dishes. If you are looking for a travel guide, it is not your typical guidebook. “Rice, Noodle, Fish” is a rare blend of inspiration and information, perfect for the intrepid and armchair traveler alike.

Lost Japan

AuthorAlex Kerr
Rating4.5 out of 5

Lost Japan” is also one of the best books about Japan that describes the beauty, nature, environment of Japan. It is a really wonderful portrayal of Japan during a period of incredible change. The book guides people to travel to any place first and then tells the history of that place. This style differs from another book and makes it more interesting. There are many high-quality illustrations of amazing places, natural beauty, animals within this book that will attract you to visit that place.


Even after being mortally destroyed in World War II, Japan has become one of the richest and most developed countries in the world. This was possible because Japan has invested heavily in human resources in education and health to be successful. They mainly focused on the service sector rather than the manufacturing or labor sectors.

Japan is counted among the most powerful countries in the world due to its economy and technology. Japan is the third most powerful country from an economic perspective. The first is the United States and the second is China.

Yes, you can definitely travel to Japan without speaking Japanese. If you can speak English then there is no need for a local language to travel anywhere in the world. Otherwise, you will need to hire a translator for communication.

Japan is a very rich country so living in Japan is absolutely expensive. You will have to pay a lot for restaurants, hotels, transportation, etc in Japan.

When people think of Japan, the first thing that comes to mind is Tokyo, which is its capital. If you are confused as to where you should go first, start from Tokyo and then gradually explore another place.

Japan is not a very big country, therefore, you can visit all of Japan easily. Japan is filled with natural beauty so you should explore the whole of Japan. But if you have limited time and want to explore the best places there, you should go to these given places-
• Cherry Blossoms & Azaleas at Mifuneyama Rakuen
• Wisteria Tunnel at Kawachi Fuji Gardens
• Great Wisteria at Ashikaga Flower Park
• Fuji Shibazakura Festival
• Tateyama Kurobe Alpine Route
• Lavenders in Hokkaido
• Snow Monkeys
• Otaru Snow Light Path

Absolutely yes, Japan is a safe country in almost all respects. But there is one thing that makes it dangerous. Many natural disasters like earthquakes, volcanic eruptions have been seen frequently in Japan.


I hope, you will have got acquainted with these 10 best books about Japan. These books will provide you the deep insights into the history, customs, traditions, culture, and beauty of Japan. If you are planning to travel there, you should definitely read these best Books set in Japan.

If this article added any value to your life, share it with your friends so that they can also get acquainted with these best books about Japan and increase their knowledge.

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