Recommended Reading for Japan: Books to Read Before Your Trip

Reading about Japan is one of the best ways to get excited for your trip, and we’ve put together a comprehensive Japan reading list for serious book lovers and light readers alike.

Japan guidebooks can be a great resource for research and travel planning, but it’s also incredibly fun — and often enlightening — to read fiction and non-fiction books from and about Japan.

So we’ve compiled a wide-spanning recommended reading list for Japan, including books on Japanese food, culture, history, a variety of fiction and literature, and more!

If we missed a great book you think we should include, please let us know – happy reading!

The Ultimate Japan Reading List: Books to Read Before Your Trip to Japan

Culinary Books on Japan

If it’s your first trip to Japan, our guess is that Japanese food will be even more delicious and varied than you can imagine. Below are our favorite books on Japanese food and drink, to simultaneously whet your appetite and give you great insight into Japan’s incredible culinary culture.

The Ultimate Japan Reading List: Books to Read Before Your Trip to Japan

Photo by PhoTones_TAKUMA CC BY

Books on Japanese Culture

Japan’s unique and diverse culture, from the traditional to the modern, is one of the things we love most about Japan. The books below — which span topics ranging from gardens to Zen, and fashion to anime — provide an immersive introduction to a breadth of fascinating topics related to Japanese culture.

The Ultimate Japan Reading List: Books to Read Before Your Trip to Japan

Books about Japanese History

A basic understanding of Japanese history is essential to making sense of contemporary Japan, and the books below provide insight into some of the country’s most crucial historical periods.

The Ultimate Japan Reading List: Books to Read Before Your Trip to Japan

Travelogues, Guides, and Memoirs

These varied and colorful firsthand accounts are an invaluable way to vicariously experience Japan through the keen eyes of an eclectic collection of observers.

The Ultimate Japan Reading List: Books to Read Before Your Trip to Japan

Japanese Literature & Fiction

Japan is blessed with an incredible wealth of classic and modern literature. The sampling below will help get you started, and we recommend diving more deeply into the works of several of the authors below.

The Ultimate Japan Reading List: Books to Read Before Your Trip to Japan

So whether you relish the feel and smell of paper in your hands, or prefer the convenience and portability of a Kindle or your mobile device, we hope our recommended Japan reading list helps you prepare for your adventures!

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About Andres Zuleta

Andres is the founder of Boutique Japan.

Unlike a lot of travel companies, we don't work from a cubicle!

In 2005, I first moved from New York City to Tokyo to study Japanese, and living in Tokyo changed my life, leading me to want to dedicate my life to helping others really experience Japan, the way I have been able to do so!