English guidebooks aplenty for Florence, London, and Wichita -- but not one decent offering about Kyoto, a city which deserves and could accommodate twice the number of printed descriptions extant for the cities of Europe. For any English-speaking visitor to Japan -- and there are enough of them -- this book, or any book, would be a relief. Rather than trying to include all of Kyoto's wonders (There is a saying that if you visited one Buddhist temple every day, you would be around for years -- and that only for the ""Buddhist temples""), the author has selected sixteen important and representative sights and settled heavily on each of them. The book is divided into three parts: the first, a narrative placing each of the 16 locations in Kyoto's history (which is fascinating in itself) and recounting bits of individual history as well; the second, the guidebook proper -- room to room to garden, and far better (both in grammar and content) than anything the Japan Travel Bureau has to offer; the third, the practical ""How to get there and back,"" another relief for the tourist astray in a forest of Japanese characters (The author even bothers to explain that the train is supposed to change directions on its way to Uji, so no need to worry). Although the subtitle ""contemplative"" is misleading, the book does provide enough information to activate contemplation in the visitor using it. He might only wish that more than 16 locations would have fit between its covers.