Hitching Rides with Buddha: Travels in Search of Japan by Will Ferguson

Hitching Rides with Buddha: Travels in Search of Japan

byWill Ferguson

Kobo ebook | June 4, 2010

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Originally published as Hokkaido Highway Blues, with limited distribution in Canada, Will Ferguson’s classic book about Japan, for all fans of the bestselling Beauty Tips from Moose Jaw.

With the same fervour they have for outlandish game shows and tiny gadgets, the Japanese go nuts each spring when the cherry blossoms sweep from island to island towards the country’s northerly tip. Will Ferguson was celebrating the event in the standard fashion. And after way too much sake he announced he would be the first person in recorded history to follow the blossom’s progress end to end. To make it a challenge worth doing, he’d hitchhike all the way: relying on the kindness of some very weird and wonderful strangers.

Mixing his penchant for biting observation with wicked humour, Ferguson starts at the southernmost tip of Cape Sata and heads north for distant Hokkaido. Whether he is doing the forbidden and not knowing it, or holding "conversations by non sequitur," it is a journey full of misadventures and revelations. The resulting travelogue is one of the funniest and most illuminating books ever written about Japan.

To make matters worse, I decided to hitchhike. Striking a heroic stance, I declared my intention to my Japanese friends to become the first person ever to hitchhike the length of Japan, end-to-end, cape-to-cape, sea-to-sea. This did not impress them as much as I had hoped.

“Why would you want to do that?” they asked, genuinely puzzled. “There is no reason to hitchhike. That’s why we built the Bullet Train.”

Others worried about my safety. “But,” I would argue, “Japan is a very safe country, is it not?”

“Oh, yes. Very safe. Safest in the world.”

“So why shouldn’t I hitchhike?”

“Because Japan is dangerous.”

And so on.

Now, I will admit that mooching rides across Japan is not a major achievement — I mean, it’s not like I paddled up the Amazon or discovered insulin or anything — but I am the first person ever to do this, so allow me my hubris.

When I left my home in Minamata City aboard a southbound train, I felt suitably bold with my backpack and muscular thumb.

“I’m going to hitchhike the length of Japan,” I told the man beside me.

He smiled and nodded.

“I’m going to follow the cherry blossoms.”

He nodded.

“All the way to Russia,” I said.

He smiled again, and soon after changed seats.
—from Hitching Rides with Buddha

From the Hardcover edition.
Title:Hitching Rides with Buddha: Travels in Search of JapanFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:June 4, 2010Publisher:Knopf CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0307369072

ISBN - 13:9780307369079

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from great travel literature is fergusons forte
Date published: 2017-07-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from On the road in Japan Fun read - and inspiration for my eventual trip to Japan (I won't hitch-hike though). As always the challenge is what the author sees is often presented as the way things are in Japan -- and it may not be exactly true in general. All in all a fun story of adventure and an exploration of Japan bottom to top. #plumreview
Date published: 2016-11-04
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Very funny book! Will Ferguson, after teaching English in Japan for a couple of years, decided to hitchhike from the southernmost point of Japan to the northernmost, following the cherry blossoms. This is a very funny book! There were plenty of laugh-out-loud moments in Ferguson’s descriptions of Japan, and of the people who picked him up along the way. The book is mixed with descriptions of the places he was (mostly off-the-beaten-path, where you won’t find many tourists), as well as the people he met and some history and mythology thrown in. Personally, I found the people the most interesting part of the book. I really, really enjoyed it.
Date published: 2009-11-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Hilarious travel buddy I wasn't terribly interested in Japan, but I couldn't put the book down! Ferguson's prose is incredibly fresh and entertaining, and when reading his book, it feels as though he was just a buddy sitting beside you, spinning stories around a beer. To get the spirit and spontaneity of a good conversationalist onto a page is extremely hard to do, and harder for a reader to find. Regardless of the subject, reading this book sent me immediately searching for his next novel. This travelogue, and this author, are a gem.
Date published: 2006-07-13