Hitching Rides With Buddha: Travels In Search Of Japan
(Knopf Canada, Toronto: 2005)
Originally published in abridged form in the U.K. as Hokkaido Highway Blues by Soho Press in 2001.
READ: February 2006
Will Ferguson is one of my new favourite authors, and he's Canadian to boot! I actually haven't read much by him, but what I have read, I have enjoyed immensely. I spent a thoroughly enjoyable few days on Bali and Lombok in Indonesia two years ago, reading his book Happiness (TM). I really need to re-read it solely so that I may have the pleasure of reviewing it on this site.
Anyway, I digress. I'd been waiting for Hitching Rides With Buddha to come out in paperback, when I received it as a Christmas present from my parents who knew I was thinking of coming out to Japan later this year. And man oh man, is it ever funny. If you know anything at all about Japan, or don't know much at all but are interested in learning a bit, this book is for you. Taking Alan Booth's 2000-mile walk across Japan as inspiration, Ferguson, who taught English on Kyushu in the south end of Japan for about 5 years in the early to mid-1990s, set out to hitchhike clear across Japan. He is witty, he is insightful, and I promise he will make you laugh and laugh and laugh. I drove Randal crazy while I was reading this book as I kept laughing out loud every page or two. He couldn't understand it...until he went to read it himself a few months later. Then it was his turn.
And it's not just a book for Japanophiles. While the action is obviously set in Japan and most of Ferguson's comments are targeted toward Japanese and foreigners in Japan, many of these comments also translate to a larger picture of human nature generally. I'm sure I often say on this blog that "this book is an entertaining read", but this time I really, really mean it. I can't recommend this book enough.