The Roads to Sata: A 2000-mile Walk Through Japan (Origami Classroom) Paperback – 1 Jun 1997
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Fluent in the language, well-informed and disabused, [Booth] is in the fine tradition of hard-to-please travellers like Norman Douglas, Evelyn Waugh, and V.S. Naipaul. A sharp eye and a good memory for detail...give an astonishing immediacy to his account. --Times Literary Supplement<br /><br />An illuminating book. --The Economist
An illuminating book. --The Economist
About the Author
ALAN BOOTH was born in London in 1946 and travelled to Japan in 1970 to study Noh theatre. He stayed, working as a writer and film critic, until his untimely death in 1993. His highly praised Looking for the Lost is also available from Kodansha Globe.
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Top Customer Reviews
In contrast to Ferguson's more up-front opinionated style and laugh-out-loud humour, Booth's style is more subtle, the insights more nuanced, the humour drier (some might say slyer). You'll find no sweeping generalisations in Booth's account, little overt criticism or praise of Japan, and little analysis or moralising. Rather, he prefers to let the narrative do the talking - the sights and sounds, the small daily incidents, the people he meets along the way. A good example is the perceived xenophobia of Japanese society. Booth's epic walk is peppered with incidents which show that Japan can be a frustrating and uncomfortable experience for a foreigner (e.g. the name calling by kids in the street, the ryokans which become mysteriously `full' when he tries to get a room), yet it also has many examples where the locals showed him great kindness and concern for his well-being (e.g. lifts offered, which he had to decline) Is Japan xenophobic then? Well, yes and no. You decide. Like any other national stereotype, it's not black-and-white. (I suspect though that if he had made the same journey today, 30 years on, his references to the despoilation of the landscape would have been far more critical.)
Booth ends his walk little clearer on what he really thinks of Japan and the Japanese than when he set out. After three visits there, I'm in a similar position, though I can't wait for my fourth.
Booth's account of his journey walking from the north of Hokkaido to the south of Kyushu is a little different. He passes through the country, closely observing its smallest details and quirks, largely of rural life, reporting what he sees, smells, hears and feels on his journey, but rarely does Booth judge the Japanese.
His account is very well written; funny in some parts, graceful and poetic in others. Anyone who has spent extended time in Japan will knowingly nod and chuckle, recognising many of the traits, situations and irritations that he alludes to.
My one small criticism of the book is also what seems to have endeared it to so many reviewers; Booth's aptitude to objectively report, rather than asses, the things he experiences means that those with less knowledge of the country may be left a little in the dark at times.
There are certainly parts when a little more explanation would have been helpful. Especially as Booth (RIP) was so well qualified to do so - being fluent in the language and having lived in Japan for 7 years at the time of writing.
However, it seems that his unwillingness to judge his hosts too heavily is why this book has been so well received, and continues to be, even though it was first published back in 1985.
I wonder how much of the rural charm that Booth captured so well, has now faded into history, twenty five years on since he made his journey?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I don't think the book has dated too much though on numerous occasions Alan Booth does seem to have a pretty negative view of some things Japanese almost highlighting them when... Read morePublished 9 months ago by EddieA
The long trek is mostly misery punctuated by some hilarious, magical moments. I wish he'd have off-roaded a bit more - for his sake and ours - but perhaps that's not easy in Japan. Read morePublished 14 months ago by Jonee
I so much enjoyed Alan's wry dry humour! He has a fine eye for detail which touched me as a long time admirer of Japan. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Peter Munn
This is a really excellent book. Alan Booth really understood Japan and his place in Japanese society as a foreigner. Highly recommended.Published 21 months ago by BGH
A not bad book although a bit boring and long winded at times, perhaps a bit dated as well but still worth a read if you're into Japan and Japanese culture.Published on 8 Dec. 2013 by SF
This book is recommended by the Lonely Planet for Japan, and what a great recommendation. I bought it just before doing a trip across Japan. Read morePublished on 13 Aug. 2013 by mrs n a fisher
This has become one of my favourite books; well written, humorous and anecdotes so similar to those told to me by my son who lived and experienced Japan in many similar ways, yet... Read morePublished on 6 Aug. 2013 by Tortoro
Am hoping to visit Japan this year & this book provides an interesting insight into rural Japan,although some years ago.Published on 2 May 2013 by NorthWalesSaint