Samurai Trails: Wanderings on the Japanese High Road by Lucian Swift KirtlandSamurai Trails: Wanderings on the Japanese High Road by Lucian Swift Kirtland

Samurai Trails: Wanderings on the Japanese High Road

byLucian Swift KirtlandEditorWilliam De Lange

Paperback | April 26, 2017

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“Finally the treatment these true classics deserve: thoroughly re-edited and modernized texts, with glossary, index…and beautiful layout to boot.”

Lucian Swift Kirtland (1881–1965), walking Japan’s ancient Tôkaidô and Nakasendô highroads on the eve of the First World War, is still very much the late-nineteenth century traveler, pith helmet and all. And while, like so many of his contemporaries, he is prone to the unabashed Orientalism of his day, he is thankfully free of the “eczema of reformers.” Despite his determination to be of “extreme magnitude in the perspective,” Kirkland soon falls head-over heel for Japan’s irresistible charm, surprising us with his evocative, unprejudiced observations—of a group of men in conversation, of a whistful girl at a barber shop dreaming of another life.

With Kirthland we discover a Japan that has by now all but disappeared, a rural and mystical landscape occupied by abandoned temples, thatched cottages, old inns that once hosted feudal lords on their way to the capital. It is a landscape inhabited by quintessentially Japanese characters—a white-bearded pilgrim leaning on his staff, a fairy-like girl carrying a barrel-sized basket on her back, her eyes fixed on some wild flowers in her hand. 

As to every visitor, past and present, Japan to Kirtland proves a country full of wonderful contradictions. Thus, lost in the mist among the mountains on the Nakasendô, he and his companions encounter a peasants in traditional rush grass cape, terrified at the sight of aliens, while at the next inn a maid sits down at the foot of his bed for a cigarette and a casual conversation about marriage.

Title:Samurai Trails: Wanderings on the Japanese High RoadFormat:PaperbackDimensions:158 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.37 inPublished:April 26, 2017Publisher:TOYO PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:9492722011

ISBN - 13:9789492722010

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Editorial Reviews

This is a book that can be read and then read again. At that, there will remain many a page that is to present a new thought or two when the volume is picked up again. Happy Mr. Kirtland to see things as he does. Because we can well imagine that no matter where he wanders, he is always to view the adventures and the mishaps of his life in the same whimsical manner that makes Samurai Trails such a charming book to read. — New York TimesAn interesting book of travel about Japan. Picturesque descriptions of the scenic beauty of the country and intimate picture of the domestic life of the Japanese make the volume very readable. — Ontario Library reviewSamurai Trails is a fascinating " musk-and-sandalwood" story of [Kirtland’s] walking tour of Japan. — The Rattle of Theta Chi