September, October, and April are considered tourist friendly though the peak season is May and August. Tokyo, Yokohama, Osaka and Kyoto are the oft visited cities and there are many major attractions in Tokyo and the bullet train takes the visitor to all of them. An escape to either Osaka or Kyoto lets the visitor experience the serenity that has made Japan famous around the world. It is home to the brown bear, the Japanese macaque monkey and the Japanese salamander.
|Resource||ISBN or ASIN||Best Price||Description|
|Japan Eyewitness Travel Guides||978-0756628765||$19||800 full-color photographs, street-by-street maps, and its breadth of coverage including history, art, traditions, and culture make it the best travel guide available.|
|Japan Travel Map||978-4805309506||$9||Includes Ryukyu Islands at 1:4,000,000, Japan at 1:2,200,000, Kanto at 1:750,000, Kanto Area at 1:250,000, Kyoto at 1:20,000, Tokyo at 1:15,000, Osaka at 1:15,000, and Central Kobe at 1:15,000.|
|Streetwise Tokyo Map||978-1931257114||$9||Tokyo Area Map at 1:50,000, Marunouchi/Ginza at 1:15,000, Shibuya/Harajuku/Akasaka/Aoyama/Roppongi/Azabu at 1:15,000, Shinjuku at 1:12,000, Ueno at 1:8,000 and Asakusa at 1:7,400 scales.|
|Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption||978-1400064168||$14||A masterpiece by author Laura Hillenbrand, the bestselling author of Seabiscuit, this time telling the true story of Louie Zamperini, an Olympian track and field star who was part of the US air force, was shot down and was adrift in the Pacific for over a month, and was held as a POW by the Japanese.|
|Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet||978-0345505347||$6||The story of Henry Lee, a 12-year old Chinese-American in Seattle during World War II who falls in love with Keiko Okabe, a 12-year-old Japanese girl. The story alternates between that period and 1984 when his wife Ethel died of cancer. The story’s depiction of the relationships and prejudices of the times are exceptional.|
|Japan Grounded Adapter Plug – GUA||B0016ZU36E||$7|
|Other Travel Resources||NA||Varies|
The first stamps of Japan were a set of four stamps released on April 20, 1871. Each stamp in the set (Scott #1 to #4) catalogs for over $200. The design shows a pair of dragons facing characters of value. This was followed by another set of four stamps released in 1872 in the same design but denominated in yen instead of the mon. Dragon designs along with Imperial Chrysanthemum Crest and Branches of Kiri Tree were the primary designs for Japanese issues until 1873. Most of these stamps are very valuable and catalog for hundreds of dollars. A variety of the basic Crest and Kiri Tree design released in 1874 involved the addition of a syllabic character in a box covering crossed kiri branches above SEN. The sets from 1874 are valued based on the syllabic character inscription – some are very rare and valued into the thousands. Varieties on the Imperial Crest design along with issues depicting General Yoshihisa Kitashirakawa and Field Marshal Akihito Arisugawa were the major stamp issues of Japan until the turn of the century. Prince Kitashirakawa was killed in Taiwan after contacting malaria during the Japanese invasion of Taiwan, the first to have died outside of Japan and the first in modern times to have died in war.
Japan released a stamp on July 1, 1905 to commemorate the amalgamation of the postal services of Japan and Korea. The stamp (Scott #110) catalogs for around $80 mint and $20 used. The issue was used in the Korea and China Offices of Japan in addition to Japan. The first Sino-Japanese War (1894 to 1895) resulted in the Japanese gaining control of Taiwan, Korea, and part of Sakhalin. Japan released a set of three stamps on November 3, 1916 showing the mandarin duck and the ceremonial cap. The set (Scott #152 to #154) catalogs for over $600 mint and over $200 used. The ceremonial cap issue (Scott #154) is rare and thus accounts for the high valuation. The set was issued to mark the nomination of the Prince Heir Apparent. Hirohito, known posthumously as Emperor Showa reigned as Emperor of Japan from 1926 until his death in 1989.
Other issues of Japan enjoying good philatelic interest include:
- A long set of nineteen stamps released between 1937 and 1945 showing local scenes. The set (Scott #257 to #275) catalogs for around $50 mint and around $10 used. The designs show trading ship, rice harvest, General Maresuke Nogi, power plant, Admiral Heihachiro Togo, Mount Hodaka, Garambi Lighthouse of Taiwan, Diamond Mountains of Korea, Meiji Shrine of Tokyo, Yomei Gate of Nikko, plane and map of Japan, Kasuga Shrine of Nara, Mount Fuji and cherry blossoms, Horyu Temple of Nara, Miyajima Torii (Itsukushima Shrine), Golden Pavilion of Kyoto, Great Buddha of Kamakura, Kamatari Fujiwara, and plum blossoms. General Nogi served as Major General in command of the First Infantry Brigade in the First Sino-Japanese War. Admiral Togo is considered one of Japan’s greatest naval heroes. He was a prominent figure in the Franco-Chinese, Sino-Japanese, and Russo-Japanese wars.
- A set of twelve stamps released between 1948 and 1949 showing local industry. The set (Scott #425 to #436) catalogs for over $800 MNH and around $15 used. The designs show farm woman, whaling, miner, tea picking, girl printer, factory girl with cotton bobbin, Mount Hodaka, planting, postman, blast furnace, and locomotive assembly. Mint copies of the highest two denominations in the set (Scott #435 and #436) are the most expensive cataloging for over $300 each. Despite a lack of natural resources, the country became a great industrial power by the late nineteenth century. Japan is currently the third largest economy in the world.
- A long set of seventeen stamps released between 1950 and 1952 showing local scenes. The set (Scott #509 to #521B) catalogs for around $1300 MNH and around $50 used. The designs show Ishiyama-dera Pagoda, Hisoka Maejima, Long-tailed Cock of Tosa, Goddess Kannon, Himeji Castle, Nyoirin Kannon of Chuguji, and Phoneix Hall (Byodoin Temple). Baron Maejima Hisoka was the founder of the Japanese Postal Service.
- A set of five stamps released between 1975 and 1976 in the Nature Conservation theme showing fauna. The set (Scott #1199 to #1203) is inexpensive and catalogs for around $3 MNH and around a dollar for used. The designs show short-tailed albatrosses, Bonin white-eye, Temminick’s robin, and Ryukyu-Yamagame tortoise. Japan has recorded over 600 species of bird within its territory and some of them are endemic. Short-tailed albatross is a threatened species that nest in a couple of the pacific islands administered by Japan and more recently in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. The Bonin white-eye is found only on Chichi-jima Island and is a threatened species.
- A long set of fifteen stamps released between 1992 and 1994 showing Flora and Fauna. The set (Scott #2154 to #2167A) catalogs for around $40 MNH and around half that for used. The designs show dragonfly, swallowtail, ladybug, Mandarin duck, Japanese white-eye, Rufous turtle dove, varied tit, pied kingfisher, spotbill duck, bullfinch, fringed orchid, wild pink, adder’s tongue lily, Japanese iris, and violet.
The first coins of Japan were Copper coins produced by a mint in Musashi province in 708 AD called the Wado Kaiho. Prior to this, imported coins from Korea and China were in use. The first gold coins called Kaiki Shoho were introduced around the same time-frame. Japan had issued 12 coins by 958AD when they shut down the mint. From that point on, imported coins were in use for 600 years. Modern Japanese Coinage was initiated in 1871 when the yen was established as the standard unit of currency.
Numismatic items of Japan include:
|Coins||$1 and up||Common UNCs from the 1970s and 1980s start around $1. 19th century Meiji Copper Coins in VF, Recent Bi-Metallic UNC Sets, Commemorative Silver Coins from the 1960s, etc start around $20. UNC Silver Coins from the 19th century starts around $50. Samurai Gold Bars from the mid-nineteenth century, Recent Silver and Color Proofs, etc starts around $100. Gold Coins, Meiji Era Coins in MS60 and better grades, etc go well into the 100s.|
|Paper Money||$1 and up||Common UNC notes, Undated banknotes in VF from the 1940s, etc starts around $1. Allied Military Issues start around $5. XF Banknotes from the 1930s onward start around $10. UNC Notes from the period starts around $50. Recent Bundles in UNC, Early Large Notes in VF, Scarce banknotes like rare dates, Replacements, etc start into the 100s.|
Japanese crafts are famous world over – Visitors inevitably shop for paintings, dolls, pottery, tea serving sets, crockery, and kites.
|Animation Art and Characters||$5 and up||Bumper Stickers start around $5. Pokémon plush doll, Gundam Strike Model Kits and other Anime art start around $50. Anime Art figurines go well into the 100s.|
|Decorative Collectibles||$5 and up||Salt and Pepper Shakers, magnets, trinket boxes, etc start around $5. Vintage Occupied Japan Colonial Figures, Hand Painted Vases, etc start around $50. Vintage Music Boxes, Dragon Tea sets, floral collector plates, Iron fans, etc go well into the 100s.|
|Cultures and Ethnicities||$5 and up||Kokeshi Doll sets start around $5. Miya Jade Bowl sets, Buddhist Japan#CHAWAN Tea Bowls etc start around $50. Vintage Lanterns, Ox-bone carved warrior statues and other exotic pieces, Kimonos etc go well into the 100s.|
|Pottery and Glass||$5 and up||Occupied Japan holders, Mikaso cups etc start around $5. Occupied Japan Blue Willow Serving Platters, Fukagawa Tea Serving Sets, Royal Sealy Cream and Sugar Sets, etc start around $40. Hindoe Japan Sacki Container and Cups, Rosemont Dinner Sets, Royal Crown Vases etc go well into the 100s.|
|Antiques||$5 and up||Vintage Porcelain Pedastal Bird Cups, Porcelain Dolls etc start around $5. Satsuma Miniature Vases, Trinket Boxes, etc start around $30. 19th century Imari Plates, woodblock prints, iron pots, etc go well into the 100s and 1000s.|
|Art||$5 and up||Tea ceremony paintings, Game cloth posters, etc start around $5. Original early 20th century local scenes photos start around $25. Original works by W.H. Pyne, Hall Groat Sr., Jun-Ichiro Sekino, Anthony Falbo, Tokiko Kaneko, Tsutomu Moriya Unjo, Iwao Hagitani, etc go well into the 100s and 1000s.|
Last Updated: 12/2015.