Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Canongate Books Ltd; New Ed edition (5 Jun 2003)
In Japan, the coming of spring is known by the blossoming of the cherry trees. The wave starts in the far south west, and slowly sweeps over the entire country before finally arriving in the northernmost island, Hokkaido. Will Ferguson, a Canadian resident in Japan, one day made the drunken mistake of saying that he'd follow it, only to be held to his promise. And, to that end, he set off to hitch-hike from Cape Sata in the subtropical south all the way to Cape Sōya at the cold tip of Hokkaido.
It took a month or so. On the way, he crossed all four main islands, met an interesting cross section of Japanese (an astonishing number of whom would drive hours out of their way to get him 'to the next city'), and came closer to uncovering the soul of a people than anyone I've read in a long time. I can't tell how accurate it actually is - but it's full of truth, and Ferguson is honest enough to display his own bad side too. In the end, he shows that the Japanese are neither perfectly good, not perfectly bad, but are as human as any other people.
(Our thanks to Neil Walker for sending us this - once bellinghwoman has finished it, we'll post it back.)
A real insight into the Japanese.