October 16, 2006
The Roads to Sata: A 2000-Mile Walk Through Japan (Origami Classroom)

The Roads to Sata: A 2000-Mile Walk Through Japan (Origami Classroom)

A wonderful travelogue of a four month journey on the highways and backroads of 1977 Japan.

I've started several reviews of this book, but they keep on devolving into catalogs of the interesting things that happened to or near Alan Booth during his journey.

What you need to know, really, is that you're more likely to understand me if you read this. I feel a tremendous kinship with the author.

His belief in the common and blue-collar people of the world is obvious. Although he is quick to take advantage of a pleasant hot spring or free drink, he stays entirely in inns (ryokan) and futon-and-breakfasts (minshuku), avoiding hotels and the elite pleasures of the occasional city he passes through. He sets out seeking enlightenment in the ordinary and comes tantilizingly close at times.

I think he also assumed that the innocence of rural people would give him a purer look at the "real" Japan. In reality, he was equally often frustrated by their ignorance and inexperience.

Booth does a wonderful job of mixing in poetry, lyrics, and cultural asides. I only hope that at some point in my life I'm able to capture myself and the world I see as well as Booth did, and pass it on as a testament.

I'll leave it at that.

Written at October 16, 2006 5:28 PM
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