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I have traveled quite a bit, through Europe, the Middle East, and the Orient, initially using what Lonely Planet called their "Condensed" series, but now call "Encounter". The primary thing that makes the Lonely Planet Encounter books so good is they have just the right amount of information. All too many guide books have far too many pages and photographs, and take way too long to wade through to discover where you want to go, and the significant history of the place you are about to see. If I wanted to read several hours of information about a city and the sights, and look at hundreds of photos, I could have stayed home and done that. The LP Encounter books tell you just enough to understand what you are seeing. Then most historic sites take it from there with guided tours, museum guide books, etc. You don't need all that in the guide book you carry around with you.
And, the best part of the LP Encounter books is the "Highlights" section in the front of the book, covering all the "must see" things in a city, with a photo, and a short description of the place. Then, there is a page number for more information about that particular place, located deeper into the book. Again, you don't need to read through hundreds of pages to determine what is important to see in a given city, you can read through the first 20 or so pages to know what is most important to see.
And, the second best part of the LP Encounter books is their "Itineraries" pages that follow the "Highlights" pages. Many people travel on a tight schedule, maybe they are in town for business, and only have a day free, or two. The "Itineraries" page tells you what you should see if you only have one day, and what to do on the second day, if you have that. Then the third day, etc. It is incredibly helpful if you are on a limited time schedule.
The remaining parts of the book are divided into chapters for each district, with things to see, places to eat, shop, drink, etc. I found them to be quite useful: if you travel to a district to see a museum for instance, then that same section will guide you to several choices of nearby places to eat. None of the restaurant choices for the Tokyo book let me down. I particularly loved the suggestion to find the narrow "Memory Lane" alley north of Shinjuku Station, where we sat on stools in one of the many little stalls, and had a wonderful experience enjoying the the best beer and yakitori ever. Every place, restaurant, bar, etc has a consistent set of information with the street address, phone number, hours, web address, days of the week open, and nearest subway station.
And, third, but not least, is the "Directory" section in the back of the book, which proves to be invaluable with information on how to get from Narita Airport, which is WAY out of town, into Tokyo itself, with the recommendation that it is too far (2 hours) and too expensive to take a taxi. They recommend you take the train or bus. I have done both, and both were easy. There is great information there on how to buy "Pasmo" passes to ride the subway, eliminating the need to buy a ticket for each ride. The subway if really the best way to get around the city, and the tear-out map had a useful subway guide map, just don't loose it.
That is followed by a useful collection of phrases to use in emergencies, pharmacies, guides on the currency, tipping, etc. Quite interesting is the little box that describes that most streets in Tokyo do not have names. That's right, only major boulevards have names. All the thousands of little streets winding back and forth in between are nameless. How do you find your way around? The same way the locals do: Either the place you are going has a little map on the back of their brochure or business card, or stop as the local Police box and ask.
The earlier "Condensed" series of guidebooks had their maps printed on the permanently attached fold-out front and back covers. The newer "Encounter" books have a separate folded 16 inch square tear-out map in the back, and smaller local maps at the beginning of each district chapter in the book. I actually preferred the fold out maps of the earlier series. Why? Because once you tear out the map to use it, it easily gets lost. As a traveler, you often find yourself hanging on with one hand in the subway or wherever, trying to read your guidebook with the other hand. With the older fold-out map versions, the maps were always there for reference. With the new version... who knows where the map is, and even if you knew, how are you going to let go to hold it with your other hand?
All in all, Lonely Planet Encounter Tokyo is the best, and I have found that the series is the best for other cities around the world.