Thursday, September 21, 2006

Hitching Rides With Buddha: Travels in Search of Japan - Will Ferguson

The Basics: Hitching Rides with Buddha: Travels in Search of Japan, Will Ferguson, 2006, 410 pages, paperback.

How I found it: This book has just been released as a paperback and I ran across it in the new non-fiction section of Chapters while debating how to spend my giftcard. I had read several of Will Ferguson's books including Beauty Tips from Moosejaw and How to Be Canadian (written with his brother Ian) and quite enjoyed them.

What's it about?: Ferguson writes about a trip taken when he was a young English teacher in Japan. His goal is to be the first person to hitchhike the length of Japan and his plan calls for him to follow the "sakura zensen", the advancing front of cherry blossoms that hits Japan every spring. Along the way he meets a varied cast of Japanese characters and of course, discovers a little about himself.

Did I like it?: How could I not? I love Will Ferguson, I love Japan and I love travel stories. Even without those factors, this book was actually laugh-out-loud funny at times. Ferguson provides great insight into the Japanese mindset and visits some sites off the beaten tourist track. Ferguson also has great insight into what it means to be a "gaijin" (foreigner) in Japan.

Will you like it?: Even those not interested in Will Ferguson, Japan, or travel stories will enjoy this book. It is quite humorous and often quite insightful. It is also a quick read with a chronological plot.

But don't take my word for it: editorial reviews from, a review of the abridged British version (from 2000) from the Guardian, a great review from the blog Postcards from the Mothership.

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