View Full Version : hokkaido highway blues

June 2nd, 2004, 20:10
anyone else read it? it really is good, funny and sad. It has really given me an insight into the Japanese culture from the point of view of a canadian english teacher.


June 2nd, 2004, 22:59
I just finished reading it today! I agree, I was laughing out loud at some parts, while others were really thoughtful. Unfortunately he didn't go anywhere near where I'm going (Saitama) but I found it interesting anyway, especially as I spent a year in Kumamoto. I looked up one of the other books he mentioned, 'The Kumamoto Diary' but can't find it anywhere!

June 2nd, 2004, 23:13
that's a coincidence, as i finished it today too. now I'm reading "for tibet with love" and then it's on to Memoirs of a geisha.

will be looking up other books on Japan though as they are interesting to read.

June 3rd, 2004, 05:22
I read Hokkaido Highway Blues, too...I kinda have mixed feelings on it. I did find it entertaining, but I wouldn't take it as any kind of authority on Japan. He seemed to be coming from a slightly arrogant p.o.v., like, "look at the crazy Japanese people, hahaha" without showing different aspects or thinking about his own behaviour. Anyway, I thought it was a little bit unfair, but still enjoyable. Not sure I would get along with him in person.

To each his own!

June 3rd, 2004, 10:26
I found it pretty enjoyable and didn't mind the western perspective. That's who it's aimed at as entertainment more than enlightenment.

Two things I wondered about were how much Japanese he knew, seemed sufficient so it was much easier to get around than it would be for someone straight off the boat (like myself). Also the ending seemed confused and unclear. How far did he actually get and did he get back to work or toss it all in?

Some good books for some humour and insight are Alan Booth's 'Looking for the Lost' and 'The roads to Sato'.

For (self-admittedly) just taking the p!ss see Dave Barry does Japan.

Possibly relevant is Bruce Feillor(?) 'Learning to bow' as he seems to be some sort of ALT (but again spoke Japanese so would be quite different). His book is a little episodic and critical with less humour.

June 3rd, 2004, 17:17
I'm currently readingh it... about a third of the way through.. so far so good.

I don't wanna be a peasant no more.

June 9th, 2004, 02:38
Yes, have read it. FWIW, I also did some hitchhiking in Japan without speaking much Japanese and had mostly good luck. During a bike tour of Hokkaido, we got three rides in a day with two of us and two loaded bikes. One guy kept going and going, saying "I just love that you're doing this, it reminds me of when I was younger."

After the ride, I took the ferry back to Maizuru and hitched a ride late at night back to Kyoto with an antiques dealer who was coming back from buying stuff in Hokkaido. He rearranged his van to fit my bike in, then called ahead and had his wife make me a futon. They fed me breakfast the next day and I was on my way. :)

I went to Thailand next, where my wallet was stolen and I lost his contact info, so I wasn't able to thank him properly. :( Anyone know of a cool antique dealer near Kyoto eki?

June 9th, 2004, 06:41
I just started this book and it's great. I stumbled across it at the library and remembered this thread. Have you guys read any of his other books?

June 11th, 2004, 18:26
For all those who finished this, did you read the part at the end where he went through Rumoi? Yeah, the place he said "I couldn't wait to get out of Rumoi."?!?!
That's where I'll be living. Now I'm getting paranoid. Dammit.

June 11th, 2004, 19:10
Well he said that the place where I'm heading (Fukui) is "home to the rudest people in Japan"....so I've got that to look forward to.

June 11th, 2004, 22:57
I'm currently reading 'the sun in my eyes' by Josie Dew. It really good, quite entertaining about Josie cycling her way through Japan. You should give it a try.

June 11th, 2004, 23:01
funy you should mention that book...I started reading it a few months ago, but I had to give up because I found her style really annoying, and her trip was fairly boring.

I get the impression she would be a really annoying person in person.

June 11th, 2004, 23:16
She's definitely not the kind of person that i'd want to spend a large amount of time with. I do think that her observations are quite amusing, but i do think that she's goes a bit overboard with the Japanese hospitality thing

June 12th, 2004, 02:30
Well he said that the place where I'm heading (Fukui) is "home to the rudest people in Japan"....so I've got that to look forward to.

Ouch. So, do you think he's like BD and we need to take what he says with a big grain of salt? The problem is, I found out my placement yesterday and skipped to the end of the book to read that bit. Now it's going to be hard to finish it :(
I'm going to go to the library to see if I can find anything a bit more appealing about my town.

July 8th, 2004, 19:38
Will Ferguson has another book called Happiness which is so good. It's about a self help book that actually works...really funny.

July 10th, 2004, 15:06
I finished this book a few weeks ago, and I have to agree with what was posted here. I enjoyed it overall, but he does come across as a pompous ass sometimes. I particularly hated the part when the mountineer picked him up and tried to explain how he has connected with the gods on the mountain. He made the driver out to be an idiot... wondering what the hell he was talking about. Mountains? Gods?
I guess that part pissed me off. Granted I've lived most of my live in or near the mountains, but there is something spiritual about being on one, particularly through hiking, like the mountain has a life. I suspect it's similar to when surfers talk about waves.

There were a few other parts that I went "huh?" to, but that part got my goat. So to speak.