Vintage Canada, trade pb, 407 p.
As a young English teacher in Japan, Canadian humorist Will Ferguson set out on a journey like no other: his goal was to become the first person in recorded history to follow the cherry blossoms as they sweep from one end of Japan to the other. Hitchhiking all the way, and relying on the kindness of weird and wonderful strangers, his journey was full of misadventure and revelation, and the result is a real treat for Ferguson fans: a book that may just be one of the funniest and most illuminating ever written about Japan.“Nowhere on earth does spring arrive as dramatically as it does in Japan. When the cherry blossoms hit, they hit like a hurricane. Gnarled cherry trees, ignored for most of the year, burst into bloom like fountains turned suddenly on.”
What a fun, informative read! He really captured the love-hate relationship that many gaijin (foreigners) have with Japan and its countless contradictions. There were plenty of situations that I could relate to and his dry sense of humour and observations had me often laughing out loud. Well-researched, I also learned about some customs and places that I wasn’t familiar with. I would definitely recommend Hitching Rides with Buddha to anyone who is interested in Japan or has spent any time there.
A couple of favourite quotes:
“If God had wanted me to learn kanji, He would have given me a bigger brain.”Note on this edition:
“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.”
This book was previously published in the US and the UK under the title Hokkaido Highway Blues, along with an abridged British pocketbook version. The full version has been restored for the Canadian edition, along with the title I always wanted: Hitching Rides with Buddha. (That title was nixed by the American publisher on the complaint that it sounded too religious. Sigh.) - Will Ferguson
My Rating: 4/5
(Book 34 for 2007, Non-Fiction Five Challenge - Book 3, O'Canada Challenge - Book 3)
The small print: Links in this post to Amazon contain my Associates ID. Purchases made via these links earn me a very small commission. For more information visit my About Page.