I had a great time in Japan. It's a wonderful country full of character and history. The people are very polite and the country is pretty clean. It's not sparkling like I had imagined, but it's very clean. Pretty much everyone in the cities speaks English so it's not difficult to get around. The trains and subways make travel so easy. While I was there the weather in Japan was very nice, no humidity!
I have never seen a people so concerned with their own identity. Everything must be Japanese. Even an ice cream sundae is turned into a Japanese style sunday. Their preoccupation with making sure everything is Japanese is probably a by product of their Japanese superiority mentality from the World War 2 era (just my guess). While Japanese people were very polite, I cannot say they were in general nice. I met nice Japanese people, but also some not so nice people. Generally speaking the young Japanese people were all very nice when they found out I was not Japanese. A few older people however became somewhat rude, or disinterested in helping me -- even going out of their way to help someone Japanese and ignoring me. This probably has to do with the gross racism in Japan's past, which is still relevant today. If you watch any Japanese TV watch how they portray black people. It's quite disturbing. Still, like I said, no country is perfect and Japan was quite fun.
The Best guide book you can get for Japan:The Rough Guide to Japan Fourth Edition (Rough Guide Travel Guides)
It's award winning, and covers everything from practicalities to history to food and where to sleep.
Free online guide: http://www.frommers.com/destinations/japan/
Get a Japan Rail Pass, also known as a JR Pass. This will allow you to travel across Japan on their high speed trains and local JR metros for an unlimited amount. You can only purchase this outside of Japan so make sure you take care of it before you go. It will save you TONS of money as traveling in Japan can add up fast.
Some Random Pictures:
I just did a google search for "princess osaka castle favorite granddaughter" and my blog comes up as the first search result!