These are books or websites that I come back to time and time again for research when I am writing my blog.
This Wikipedia-style website is great in that it has facts on obscure or unimportant figures in Japanese history as well as write-ups on major events. Much more useful than Wikipedia or other websites as a resource, especially as it is in English; there are articles on these figures in Japanese but this wiki is fairly comprehensive and well researched.
A Popular Dictionary of Shinto by Brian Bocking
Exactly what it says on the front; a nice straightforward dictionary of Shinto terms, shrines and gods. From which I have learned useful phrases such as ‘Mai Kaa’ マイカー, a term for those so obsessed with their car that they get it blessed at a shrine every new year. A good clear book without unecessary fluff.
Exploring Kyoto: on Foot in the Ancient Capital by Judith Clancy
I only recently got this book and its already a favourite. This book contains 30 works in and around Kyoto with a focus on seeing as many temples along the way. Really makes temple touring efficient and enjoyable. Well researched history on the temples themselves and nice maps of the areas. It also recommends places to eat and small landmarks. I would recommend this book to anyone visiting Kyoto and wanting to truly explore.
Lonely Planet Guide: Kyoto
As it is a guidebook it does push the usual ‘big game’ of Kyoto temple touring, but also among the smaller entries there is a rich selection of restaurants, activities and smaller lesser known places. Definitely worth a look, especially if you want to tick off the top temples but also if you are staying a little longer and want to really get into good quality Kyoto tourism.