Michelin Japan guide makes French debut

by Mariko Kato

The Japan edition of the Michelin Green Guide travel books debuted Monday in bookstores in France.

It is the first time Michelin, renowned worldwide for its star-rating assessments of hotels and restaurants, has published a comprehensive guide to Japan’s tourist attractions.

Produced by 12 French and Japanese writers, the book judges tourist must-sees through the eyes of a Frenchman.

The guide awards 17 sites with three stars, meaning declared worth the trip, including the high-profile hot spots Nikko and its Toshogu Shrine in Tochigi Prefecture, and the village of Shirakawa-go, Gifu Prefecture, as well as lesser-visited Yakushima Island in Kagoshima Prefecture and Mount Takao in the outskirts of Tokyo.

The guide is idiosyncratic in its rating of more than 1,000 attractions within the sites. It attaches stars to exhibits within museums, including the Tokyo National Museum, and Kyoto’s temples, and awards top marks to trendy Tokyo stores Prada Boutique Aoyama and Maison Hermes in Ginza for their innovative architecture.

The guide gives one-star status to Kyoto International Manga Museum, as well as to Osamu Tezuka Manga Museum in Takarazuka, Hyogo Prefecture, which displays comic books by one of Japan’s greatest cartoonists.

More than 147,000 French tourists visited Japan last year, a 7 percent increase from 2007, according to Michelin.

The English-language version of Michelin Green Guide Japan is scheduled for release in September. Michelin Voyager Pratique Japon, a simpler guide to Japan’s attractions focusing on practical aspects was published in 2007.