Hokkaido Highway Blues
8 journalers for this copy...
You'll laugh, you'll cry--
Kiss inchi-man en good-bye
While that came to be WF's symbol for the hanami, I think it can symbolise Japan all around. It's such a social culture geared torward going out as there is really no room to socialise in the home, and it's not that going out it expensive in and of itself, but it all adds up.
This book also has going for it what Roff Smith's Cold Beer and Crocodiles did--it's made me curious to see more of a place, in this case Japan, than I'd initially dreamed of, but we'll see. I'm thinking of travelling around northern Japan before I leave. I didn't last time and this second chance is probably the last chance, so we'll see.
You will find very little greenery in Japanese cities, true. But you will also find very little of Japan in most Japanese cities.
1000% agreed. I'd always said that Osaka didn't feel very Japanese until I went to Tokyo, which is so western it's not even funny. But now after having been to Fuji-san and Kyushu, Osaka is back to being barely Japanese. That's not bad and as I've said before, I love Osaka with all my heart and can't imagine living anywhere else in Japan, but at the same time I must admit I don't feel I'm getting as much of a Japanese experience as I could be. I loved the futsu train, both on JR and Hisatsu Orange from Kagoshima to Sendai and through Kumamoto to Nagasaki--the small towns, the coast, the ekibens--they just don't exist here. But then again what is Japan? I have no desire to hitchhike the country from end to end, but it was the first place I ever hitchhiked. (Mom/Dad, if you're reading this--it was 3 1/2 years ago so clearly I survived--and I wasn't silly enough to do it alone :) )
One of my fondest memories of the first stint in Japan was hanami in Himeji, which Rebecca and I went to soon after my return from Australia. It was also Japan at it's prettiest and I'd love to chase the sakura from Sata to Soya, but I think I'd do it from the comfort of futsu, I really would.
We talked about Japanese food for the rest of the way, agreeing wholeheartedly that foreigners can't possibly eat pickled plums or fermented beans or raw fish or horseradish
ARGH! I forever seek to ban my students from asking "What kind of Japanese food do you like?" and "Can you eat raw fish?" because you think they'd know by now that 90% of gaijin can and do love sushi. With natto it's bit more hit and miss, thank god my studentd don't see fit to ask about umeboshi, but you'd think by now the novelty in asking us this would have worn off?
I speak Japanese the way a bear dances. It's not that the bear dances well that impresses people, it's the fact that the bear dances at all. While I haven't gotten as fed up as WF did re jozu desu ne, I get close. Yes I am gaijin (never in my time in Osaka have I heard gaijin-san!), yes I can speak chotto Nihongo. We all speak a hybrid of it. It leads to us speaking to others who invariable end up asking what nani, onsen, ryokan, etc mean and it's only then we realise that these words haven't always been in our vocabularies.
I believe that one of the signs of maturity is a dislike of youth hostels. When I was nineteen, I loved the rapport and collective energy. At twenty-five, I was starting to find it all very annoying. And now that I'd entered my thirties, it was all I could do not to go around arbitrarily slapping people in the head.
A year in Australia I coped fine with hostels but when it came time to face a skeevy youth hostel on Sakurajima or check myself into a ryokan in Kagoshima, I went with the extra money. It's funny how cheapness can disappear at times when one has a salary.
He skipped a lot of my favourite places in the Kansai area, but he did make it to Amanohashidate aka Bridge of Heaven, which has been on my list for sometime, however after his description I'm not entirely sure it's worth the effort to get there, so we will have to see. It was nice to hear about Sado, which has been on my 'to see' list ever since I saw the Kodo Drummers. He didn't go to some of the areas in East Japan that I am most curious about; Hakone and Nikko.
When he was waiting for the leprechauns, the TAkashi's to pick him up he mentioned how they'd passed him a few times before committing--that was the story of Rebecca's and my afternoon when we were trying to get back to Hotel Sunnide from Kawaguchiko proper. We watched this couple watch us from the restaurant window and then circle us before agreeing to a ride--I'd love to know what they hope to learn from us by circling.
He also went on to mention how Juroku Rakan aren't mentioned in any of his guidebooks but then I came to learn over the course of the Australia trip that the best places aren't. I'm thoroughly temple and shrined out and have no desire to see Kamakura or Ise really, but carved deities could be way cool.
One shouldn't talk about the war in Japan. This is one of the first rules of conversation. Every family has a litany of sorrows and a closet filled with skeletons. As often as not, Southeast Asian skeletons.
Indeed, yet we always seem to end up doing this. I feel odd, almost untrue to myself if I mention having been to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, yet at the same time I feel odd mentioning it to my students. It's like a no-win.
And as for his final realisation. That surprised me and it didn't. You're never through with Japan, it has to be through with you otherwise it keeps clawing back at you. It did inspire me enough to go Googling but I still haven't tracked down how he finally made it back to the mainland.
I have promised to lend this to Wiebke. May make it into a ring on its return as I think this is one I'd like to reread.
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
Passed on to Wiebke the other day at work
SKingList - Osaka, Japan
Awaywithfairies - NSW, Aust (prefers Aust Only)
Binkybuffy - SA (shipping unknown)
-Bodhi- - NSW (Int'l OK)
sydney2259 - NSW (Int'l OK)
AgnesXNitt - UK (Int'l OK)
LastMango - Canada (US/Canada)
rebeccaljames - US (US Only)
SKingList - NY, by that time
PRCS - Milton, Canada (US/Canada Only)
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
And off it goes :)
Posted off to Awaywithfairies just a few minutes ago. Happy travels!
My favourite passage:
I read several pamphlets yet retained very little, other than the fact that Kanazawa was - and here I quote for accuracy - "old."
I also liked the observation about youth hostels mentioned by SKingList above. And having searched for Will Ferguson in Google Images, I have to admit that he does look a little bear-like!
I wonder what happened to the author after he finished his journey? I may have to read more of his books to find out!
To be posted to Binkybuffy soon.
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
Looking forward to reading this book sounds real interesting. Just have to finish off another book first half way through will ready in a couple of days. Will journal again when I finish Thankyou. And thanks for the postcard I collect them.
It wan't let me log in for some reason.
CAUGHT IN ADELAIDE SOUTH AUSTRALIA
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).
I enjoyed every single page and will definately be checking out his other work. Thankyou SKingList for the opportunity to discover this glorious book.
sydney2259 has requested that they be skipped so I have contacted the next in line AgnesXNitt in the UK. Since signing up for this bookring Australia Post have ever so graciously cancelled their Economy Air service making sending stuff via AirMail ridiculously expensive (over $22 for a 700g parcel). The only other option is Sea Mail with a three month delivery time. So I guess this will be my last International Post :(
Yay! New roadtrip book! Okay, so it's my brother's obsession with all things Japanese, but we have a new vicar at church whose wife is Japanese so I guess if I don't understand any of the pop refs, I could always ask her on a Sunday...
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
Posted off to Canada for LastMango to enjoy!
I'll have to make sure that I have very good light for reading the very fine print of this book.
Oh!!!!!! and I must point out to everyone that Will Ferguson is Canadian!!!! (of course, if you hadn't like the book, I might not have pointed that out...ha ha!)
I have rebeccaljames address so I'll get this in the mail to her by the end of the week.
(Sent by air mail on Nov 2)
I came home to packages in my mailbox and when I opened this one, the back was facing me. I saw the Japanese price tag and wondered...and then I turned it over. My book!
This is my first ring to make it home-and almost a year to the day after I registered it. Yay! And from what I remember about the condition of the book when I was reading it, as reflected in the 1.26 entry, it doesn't look much worse for the wear for the distance it travelled.
Thanks, everyone for making it such a wonderful ring.
ETA 12 Jan: PRCS has asked to be skipped so the book is staying home with me until its next adventure.
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
Passing this on to my brother, who traveled to Japan to visit me when I lived there in 01-02.