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Books on Japanese Gardens

These have the reputation as the best:
Nitschke, G. (1993). Japanese gardens: Right angle and natural form. Taschen.
Itō, T., (1973). Space and illusion in the Japanese garden. Weatherhill.
A recent, very good one:
Kawaguchi, Y., (2014). Japanese Zen Gardens, Frances Lincoln.
Other books on Japan
Joseph, J. (1993). The Japanese, Strange but not Strangers, Penguin
Nicely readable – aspects of modern Japanese life.
Morris, I. (1967). The pillow book of Sei Shonagon. New York: Columbia University Press.
A classic book to dip into to get a sense of the refined aesthetics of the Heian Period (= early
Medieval period in Europe), this is a collection of short writings written by a court lady at the time.
Buruma, I. (1984). A Japanese mirror: Heroes and villains of Japanese culture. London: Cape.
Fascinating and occasionally eye-popping stuff! covers quite a bit of cultural material but mainly
about popular culture: gangsters, film, pornography, sentimentality, Shinto, death cults.
Sosnoski, D. (1996). Introduction to Japanese culture. Tuttle.
Thorough but worthy.
Morton, W. S., & Olenik, J. K. (2005). Japan: It's history and culture. McGraw-Hill.
A not-too heavy history.
Feiler, Bruce, 1991, Learning to Bow: An American Teacher in a Japanese School, Ticknor and
Very readable account of a young American working in Japan.
Davies, R. J., & Ikeno, O. (2002). The Japanese mind: Understanding contemporary Japanese
culture. Boston: Tuttle Pub.
Good, insightful, informative and readable collection of short essays.
Totman, C. D. (2000). A history of Japan. Malden, Mass: Blackwell Publishers.
Very dense, serious historians only!
An entertaining piece about one of the odder national obsessions:
Novels – try:
This is a very good website, with lots of bite-sized information on many aspects of life, manners,
culture, food etc.

A general tourism sites guide:
If you are in Kyoto for any time before the tour or want to slip off and do some shopping:
If you hanging out in Tokyo before starting the tour:
Free volunteer guides!
Some basic language: