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This book stopped me falling asleep at my regular hour night after night because it had me laughing so much Will Ferguson s ironic sense of humour is very amusing, and a good balance to his insightful observations on Japan I m skeptical of foreigners who spend a few years in Japan and then write a book explaining some unique, mysterious aspect of the country But this guy is fully qualified, having done enough time in a remote area the country to have learned sufficient Japanese, has the ability to take the piss out of himself and enough flint in his heart to send up others as well Most importantly, he writes well His travelogue about chasing the cherry blossom front north while hitchhiking was funny sometimes hilarious, and sometimes downright moving like the part about his Scottish ex girlfriend A journey like this couldn t be done any, in an age of total connection and information, no one would get stranded on a remote road, unable to call for help because there was no pay phone nearby, and with only paper travels guides to follow The chapter on how he got arrested following The Lonely Planets advice to try and pick up a ride at the entrance ramp to the expressway had me splitting my sides Many thanks to Lily who gave me this as a 50th gasp birthday present. Another wonderful travelogue the traveler this time makes astute observations of the Japanese nationals he encounters as he hitchhikes north from the southernmost tip of Japan.Being an Asian American, I can see both sides of the espy It is easy to relate to the often awkward, big hearted, intensely curious, liberal American being given an opportunity to look through a usually closed window into the private lives of the average Japanese citizen in Japan.I can also see how the Japanese use their social customs of thousands of years of traditions that dictate how Asians should behave among foreigners with the strange but benign American.Hilarious, heartwarming and a real eye opener for those who have not been really exposed to the traditions of the East especially traditions in the home or in the car as this case is. Will, a Canadian guy, who has lived in Japan for years, decides to hitchhike the entire length of Japan from Cape Sata to Cape Soya, about 3000 kms Obviously, he meets LOTS of people One encounter that stands out in my mind was with Mr Nakamura, who was a POW in WWII Very moving, and caused Will to cry for the first time in years.Will says, Before I came to Japan, I had tremendous respect for the Japanese, but I didn t really like them very much Now, after five years in this aggravating, eccentric nation having traveled it from end to end having worked and lived and played with the Japanese having seen beyond the stereotypes having come up against their obsessions and their fears, their insecurities and their arrogance, their kindness and their foibles having experienced firsthand all the many contradictions that are Japan, I found I did not respect the Japanese as much as I used to, but I like them a while lot 3 Stars I liked the book I enjoyed it I m glad I read it. Brilliant, funny and truly enjoyable Long story short Will Ferguson decides he would travel all the way from the southern most part of Japan view spoiler guess Okinawa islands don t count hide spoiler A near perfect travel memoir, Will Ferguson embarks upon a hitchhiking journey to follow the Cherry Blossom Front 1800 miles from the southernmost part of Japan, to it s northernmost tip at Hokkaido.Filled with interesting characters, witticisms, commentary and fascinating cultural facts, Hokkaido Highway Blues is a true gem Ferguson is a talented writer and his perspective on Japan and it s culture is a must read for arm chair travelers. Greatly enjoyed this found myself giggling a lot and reading bits out loud to my husband Many of the author s experiences mirrored my own, and the whole thing is free of the pompousness and attitude of having attained deep insights into the other that afflicts so much writing about Japan Don t know what those who haven t been to Japan, or who led a different sort of life there, would make of it, but it worked for me. Will Ferguson seems to be a very honest writer He not only tells of his journeys, but of this thinking and most importantly the things he does and says even when he s being a jerk Very believable Occasionally laugh out loud funny After teaching English in Japan for a few years, he decides to hitchhike from the southernmost tip of Japan a very lush, almost tropical area to the northernmost tip think Northern sea, icebergs off the coast sort of place He follows the sakura, the cherry blossoms, as they bloom in the spring, a very interesting reason for the journey.By hitchhiking, he meets people Lots of people Some of the people he meets formerly lived in or visited the U.S he s Canadian, but doesn t recoil at being confused with those from the U.S Most didn t Many are scared of gaijin foreigners , since having watched movies and television, they re convinced that, outside Japan, it s a lawless place, and no place is lawless than America Some pick him up to practice their English some pick him up to show him Japan all are atypical, since in Japan, they don t pick up hitchhikers.He is a great storyteller We hear of conversations with older Japanese about the war and conversations about the Soul of Japan We see temples and castles and cities and villages and an amazing amount of Korean garbage on the northern shores.I learned so much from reading this book I ll read Ferguson again, for sure, but I doubt I ll ever read such an interesting book about one of the places I find most fascinating on this earth I know I ll never be able to have the same experience I don t speak Japanese, I m a woman, etc , so I am glad to have gotten to ride around with Will Ferguson as he made his way through a Japan I ll never see. *READ EBOOK ⇡ Hokkaido Highway Blues ⇰ It Had Never Been Done Before Not In Years Of Japanese Recorded History Had Anyone Followed The Cherry Blossom Front From One End Of The Country To The Other Nor Had Anyone Hitchhiked The Length Of Japan But, Heady On Sakura And Sake, Will Ferguson Bet He Could Do Both The Resulting Travelogue Is One Of The Funniest And Most Illuminating Books Ever Written About Japan And, As Ferguson Learns, It Illustrates That To Travel Is Better Than To Arrive I absolutely adored this book It has hitched its way into my Top 5 Books of the Year and Top 10 Fave books on Japan.The main thing I enjoyed was Wil Ferguson s writing style He has this fantastic ability to be poetic in one paragraph I think I caught Niigata on a bad day Everything looked sullen and solied and worn out Even the cities smokestacks, painted in stripes like candy canes, emerged from the industrial haze like sooty sweets dug out from under a sofa cushion. and hilariously profane in the next I checked into a generic business hotel, dropped off my pack, and then found a fiery Korean restaurant in which to fill my stomach The spiced kimichi would inflame my rectum for the next two days No wonder the Koreans always looked so pissed off.Just Gorgeous. This one was interesting Ferguson is definitely a westerner in a different culture and sometimes he seems to revel in making encounters awkward, instead of taking the easy route However, he hitchhiked from the bottom of Japan to the top, went to dozens and dozens of places off the main tourist routes, met dozens and dozens of people and the book is filled with interesting moments and observations Observations on places, on people, and on two cultures meeting each other and trying to have a conversation It makes for a really interesting and very funny read I definitely highly recommend it, but I also think it would be really interesting to hear what someone from Japan feels about what Ferguson says.