Hokkaido Highway Blues

Hokkaido Highway Blues It Had Never Been Done Before Not In Years Of Japanese Recorded History Had Anyone Followed The Cherry Blossom Front From One End Of The Country To The Other Nor Had Anyone Hitchhiked The Length Of Japan But, Heady On Sakura And Sake, Will Ferguson Bet He Could Do Both The Resulting Travelogue Is One Of The Funniest And Most Illuminating Books Ever Written About Japan And, As Ferguson Learns, It Illustrates That To Travel Is Better Than To Arrive

Will Ferguson is an award winning travel writer and novelist His last work of fiction, 419, won the Scotiabank Giller Prize He has won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour a record tying three times and has been nominated for both the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and a Commonwealth Writers Prize His new novel, The Shoe on the Roof, will be released October 17, 2017 Visit him at WillFerguson.ca

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  • Paperback
  • 344 pages
  • Hokkaido Highway Blues
  • Will Ferguson
  • English
  • 27 February 2019
  • 9781841952888

10 thoughts on “Hokkaido Highway Blues

  1. says:

    Not many things that advertise themselves as blues actually deliver the emotion It was somewhat startling, then, to discover that this book is in fact deeply, profoundly melancholic Ferguson started with nothing but a boast, elevated by coworkers enthusiastic than he is into a grand plan To hitchhike the length of Japan isn t a particularly sane or rational plan, but caught up in the enthusiasm of those who hear of it, he eventually goes through with it.In the beginning, all is well This is exciting This is an adventure This is an adventure, and the enthusiasm is palpable it evidences itself through the lively interactions with the people who give him rides and the enthusiastic descriptions of the places through which he passes Extroverted and chatty, Ferguson is having a grand time making his way northward from Cape Sata in the company of strangers The adventure of following the Sakura front is an exhilarating quest.Quests are tricky things, though Weeks in, halfway across the nation, Ferguson outruns the Sakura He s no longer following the blooming rush of spring he s migrated into places where winter still reigns, and the entire tone of the enterprise changes accordingly He gives up on the notion of paying only for interisland ferries He begins drinking heavily He isn t having fun any, but he never considers giving up Finally reaching Cape S ya, well overbudget and overdue back at work, he discovers he is not finished there remain tiny islands, points farther north Ferguson is not Don Quixote if nothing else, his adventures are engaging There are strong structural similarities, though Like the Don, he is engaged in a quest accomplished by means of superficially distinct but ultimately identical subquests Like the Don, his pursuit of the quest extends well past the point of reason Like the Don, the ultimate result is tragic Ferguson books a ferry further north, to Rishiri Island, where he is stranded by a storm Unable to complete his quest, job and visa in jeopardy, incomplete and unsatisfied, the book ends.The book matches the tone of the text in its structure early chapters are long anecdotes about amusing incidents, but later chapters simply lay down the bare facts in terse language Ferguson can be an engaging and entertaining author, but he chooses instead to induce his emotions of the time in the reader As a consequence, this is a difficult, powerful, anticathartic story The hero s journey ends frustrated.This is than a travel story It s a dissection of the soul of Japan It s the tale of the elation of embarking upon a unique and challenging quest, and the dissatisfaction of accomplishing it It s about a man discovering that he has evolved None of these are easy themes, but Ferguson manages them with all the grace possible You may not like the book after reading it, but you won t regret it.

  2. says:

    This book stopped me falling asleep at my regular hour night after night because it had me laughing so much Will Ferguson s ironic sense of humour is very amusing, and a good balance to his insightful observations on Japan I m skeptical of foreigners who spend a few years in Japan and then write a book explaining some unique, mysterious aspect of the country But this guy is fully qualified, having done enough time in a remote area the country to have learned sufficient Japanese, has the ability to take the piss out of himself and enough flint in his heart to send up others as well Most importantly, he writes well His travelogue about chasing the cherry blossom front north while hitchhiking was funny sometimes hilarious, and sometimes downright moving like the part about his Scottish ex girlfriend A journey like this couldn t be done any, in an age of total connection and information, no one would get stranded on a remote road, unable to call for help because there was no pay phone nearby, and with only paper travels guides to follow The chapter on how he got arrested following The Lonely Planets advice to try and pick up a ride at the entrance ramp to the expressway had me splitting my sides Many thanks to Lily who gave me this as a 50th gasp birthday present.

  3. says:

    Will, a Canadian guy, who has lived in Japan for years, decides to hitchhike the entire length of Japan from Cape Sata to Cape Soya, about 3000 kms Obviously, he meets LOTS of people One encounter that stands out in my mind was with Mr Nakamura, who was a POW in WWII Very moving, and caused Will to cry for the first time in years.Will says, Before I came to Japan, I had tremendous respect for the Japanese, but I didn t really like them very much Now, after five years in this aggravating, eccentric nation having traveled it from end to end having worked and lived and played with the Japanese having seen beyond the stereotypes having come up against their obsessions and their fears, their insecurities and their arrogance, their kindness and their foibles having experienced firsthand all the many contradictions that are Japan, I found I did not respect the Japanese as much as I used to, but I like them a while lot 3 Stars I liked the book I enjoyed it I m glad I read it.

  4. says:

    Brilliant, funny and truly enjoyable Long story short Will Ferguson decides he would travel all the way from the southern most part of Japan view spoiler guess Okinawa islands don t count hide spoiler

  5. says:

    Another wonderful travelogue the traveler this time makes astute observations of the Japanese nationals he encounters as he hitchhikes north from the southernmost tip of Japan.Being an Asian American, I can see both sides of the espy It is easy to relate to the often awkward, big hearted, intensely curious, liberal American being given an opportunity to look through a usually closed window into the private lives of the average Japanese citizen in Japan.I can also see how the Japanese use their social customs of thousands of years of traditions that dictate how Asians should behave among foreigners with the strange but benign American.Hilarious, heartwarming and a real eye opener for those who have not been really exposed to the traditions of the East especially traditions in the home or in the car as this case is.

  6. says:

    Greatly enjoyed this found myself giggling a lot and reading bits out loud to my husband Many of the author s experiences mirrored my own, and the whole thing is free of the pompousness and attitude of having attained deep insights into the other that afflicts so much writing about Japan Don t know what those who haven t been to Japan, or who led a different sort of life there, would make of it, but it worked for me.

  7. says:

    A near perfect travel memoir, Will Ferguson embarks upon a hitchhiking journey to follow the Cherry Blossom Front 1800 miles from the southernmost part of Japan, to it s northernmost tip at Hokkaido.Filled with interesting characters, witticisms, commentary and fascinating cultural facts, Hokkaido Highway Blues is a true gem Ferguson is a talented writer and his perspective on Japan and it s culture is a must read for arm chair travelers.

  8. says:

    Will Ferguson seems to be a very honest writer He not only tells of his journeys, but of this thinking and most importantly the things he does and says even when he s being a jerk Very believable Occasionally laugh out loud funny After teaching English in Japan for a few years, he decides to hitchhike from the southernmost tip of Japan a very lush, almost tropical area to the northernmost tip think Northern sea, icebergs off the coast sort of place He follows the sakura, the cherry blossoms, as they bloom in the spring, a very interesting reason for the journey.By hitchhiking, he meets people Lots of people Some of the people he meets formerly lived in or visited the U.S he s Canadian, but doesn t recoil at being confused with those from the U.S Most didn t Many are scared of gaijin foreigners , since having watched movies and television, they re convinced that, outside Japan, it s a lawless place, and no place is lawless than America Some pick him up to practice their English some pick him up to show him Japan all are atypical, since in Japan, they don t pick up hitchhikers.He is a great storyteller We hear of conversations with older Japanese about the war and conversations about the Soul of Japan We see temples and castles and cities and villages and an amazing amount of Korean garbage on the northern shores.I learned so much from reading this book I ll read Ferguson again, for sure, but I doubt I ll ever read such an interesting book about one of the places I find most fascinating on this earth I know I ll never be able to have the same experience I don t speak Japanese, I m a woman, etc , so I am glad to have gotten to ride around with Will Ferguson as he made his way through a Japan I ll never see.

  9. says:

    I absolutely adored this book It has hitched its way into my Top 5 Books of the Year and Top 10 Fave books on Japan.The main thing I enjoyed was Wil Ferguson s writing style He has this fantastic ability to be poetic in one paragraph I think I caught Niigata on a bad day Everything looked sullen and solied and worn out Even the cities smokestacks, painted in stripes like candy canes, emerged from the industrial haze like sooty sweets dug out from under a sofa cushion. and hilariously profane in the next I checked into a generic business hotel, dropped off my pack, and then found a fiery Korean restaurant in which to fill my stomach The spiced kimichi would inflame my rectum for the next two days No wonder the Koreans always looked so pissed off.Just Gorgeous.

  10. says:

    This one was interesting Ferguson is definitely a westerner in a different culture and sometimes he seems to revel in making encounters awkward, instead of taking the easy route However, he hitchhiked from the bottom of Japan to the top, went to dozens and dozens of places off the main tourist routes, met dozens and dozens of people and the book is filled with interesting moments and observations Observations on places, on people, and on two cultures meeting each other and trying to have a conversation It makes for a really interesting and very funny read I definitely highly recommend it, but I also think it would be really interesting to hear what someone from Japan feels about what Ferguson says.

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