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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!!!!
I can't remeber how many times I've read this book, the first being when I was living in Japan but not yet speaking the language and I almost gave up on my classes there and then. Even though Alan Booth made his epic trip at a time when foreigners were still relatively rare in Japan, some of his experiences are still conceievable today. A must-read for anyone who's...
Published on August 19, 1998

versus
1.0 out of 5 stars Not worth the time
In the Mad Men era he might have been considered a good travel writer. I found him snarky, misogynist, and tiring. This is maybe the only book I ever regretted buying on Amazon.
Published 1 month ago by Roadrunner


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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!!!!, August 19, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Roads to Sata: A 2000-Mile Walk Through Japan (Paperback)
I can't remeber how many times I've read this book, the first being when I was living in Japan but not yet speaking the language and I almost gave up on my classes there and then. Even though Alan Booth made his epic trip at a time when foreigners were still relatively rare in Japan, some of his experiences are still conceievable today. A must-read for anyone who's interested in Japan/travel/other cultures; my favourite episode involves the conversation with an inn keeper, in fluent Japanese, detailing the reasons why Booth can't stay there "We don't havce beds, only futon/ we don't eat meat and you foreigners can't eat raw fish/ we don't have knives and forks" etc etc, all of which are rebuffed in perfect Japanese. Finally the aged inn keeper says "But we don't speak English!" Having had many equally frustrating experiences, I could only laugh, as I did many times during this book. On a sad note, Alan Booth died several years ago while still in his 40's- I felt like I had lost a partner in crime, as well as being cheated of further insights on the country I sometimes loved... just read it!
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining & Insightful, January 24, 2000
This review is from: The Roads to Sata: A 2000-Mile Walk Through Japan (Paperback)
"The Roads to Sata" is a foreigner's (British) account of his 2,000 mile walking journey from the country's northernmost to southernmost tip along the, mostly rural, Japan Sea side of the country in the early 1980s. What makes the book especailly enjoyable is what Mr. Booth brings to the table: fluency in Japanese; a familarity with the country and its culture from having lived there for half his life; a wry wit and an observant, thoughful mind.
Most of the narrative deals with Mr. Booth's encounters with Japanese from all walks of life along the road and in the inns and bars he visits.
Having lived in the country and revisted it on numerous occassions the book generated quite a bit of nostalgia for me and I also enjoyed Mr. Booth's take on the country and its society. If you've never been to Japan and you're looking for a book to help you get a real feel for the Japanese people you couldn't do much better than this book.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A very accurate description, August 2, 2001
This review is from: The Roads to Sata: A 2000-Mile Walk Through Japan (Paperback)
The late Alan Booth was married to a Japanese woman, spoke fluent Japanese and had lived in Japan for quite some time when he decided to walk all the way from the north to the south of the country. He walked gruelling distances (up to 40 kilometers a day with a heavy backpack) and slept in real Japanese ryokans, eating Japanese food, soaking in Japanese baths and drinking Japanese drinks. The ultimate Japan experience.
I read this book while travelling through Japan and it described exactly what I was experiencing. I did not speak a word of Japanese (this in stark contrast to the author). People were very friendly and helpful, but you always felt the distance they were keeping because to Japanese foreigners are really strange. Alan Booth has at times hilarious accounts in the book of ryokan-owners who do not want to give him a room because "he does not speak Japanese" (the conversation is in Japanese), "a foreigner cannot sleep on a futon" (he has one at home), " a foreigner will not like Japanese food" (he has been living and eating in Japan for a long time) and 1001 other fake reasons. On the other hand he meets lots of very friendely people who overcome their xenophobia and help him along.
The book mainly focusses on the first part of his hike. At the end of the book the account of the trip becomes too intermittent for my taste: I wanted to learn more about the southern part of the country.
If you decide to travel to Japan, read this book, it will make you understand better what is happening to you. And if you do not travel to Japan, read it anyway because it a wonderful account of a hiking-trip through a very special country.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply wonderful, September 13, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Roads to Sata: A 2000-Mile Walk Through Japan (Paperback)
I was lucky enough to receive my copy of this book from his wife. Reading the book, though, told me volumes more about the man than any person could. Yes, the book is a wonderful epic of a journey along the length of Japan. But more than that, the book (to me) was about the inner journey of man trying to find his place in culture that views outsiders as ... outsiders. It's a telling tale, similarly encountered by those who have traveled the distant corners of the world and the challenges they face trying to bind the different fabrics of world culture into one piece of harmonious tapestry. If you manage to get a hold of them, his articles for his Asahi column (That's All Folks) written in the months before his death(due to cancer) is as revealing and thought-provoking as this book.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars best first-hand insight into the real japan I've ever read, August 23, 1998
This review is from: The Roads to Sata: A 2000-Mile Walk Through Japan (Paperback)
This is a humorous and haunting book....humorous because Booth had a true observers touch for detail, personal observation and contrast. Haunting, because it was one of the last things he must have written in his short life.
When I picked the book up, I had no idea the author was my old schoolfriend. We lost touch at university 30 years ago. It was the same Alan. Individual, witty and single minded. It was also Japan as I've experienced it: the real people and the cultural mix that is both familiar and alien.
This is an insight into a face of Japan that is harder to find with each year. It's also a fitting memorial to a dedicated and unusual man.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful read about a beautiful journey, November 9, 1999
This review is from: The Roads to Sata: A 2000-Mile Walk Through Japan (Paperback)
I enjoyed this book very much. The writing keeps pace with the author's careful look at Japan. His British humor adds wonderful moments, my favorite of which involve rainy nights on the beach and the strangeness of Japanese pornography. Like an earlier reviewer, I find this story to be as much about Alan Booth's introspection as it is about Japan. The walk is a mere backdrop for Booth the observer to share his insights on life. And they are accurate insights. This is one of the few examples of travel writing that can be enjoyed by everybody, regardless of whether they adore the destination being explored.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Heart of the Japanese People, fondly unfolded by Booth, November 16, 1997
By A Customer
This review is from: The Roads to Sata: A 2000-Mile Walk Through Japan (Paperback)
Alan Booth, a English Author, takes time out to discover, first hand, the country and the people of Japan. In a country where every action has a plan, Booth's walking journey from the very tip of Northern Japan to Cape Sata in the South allows the Western reader to enter the heart of the Japanese people. Evident in this travelling journel is Mr. Booth's
respect for the citizens of a country which he has called home for many years, though his British sense of humor does not miss the opportunity to uncover the sometimes silly traditions which are perpetuated by time rather than common sense.

The author may leave you feeling slightly frustrated from time to time. If he has, than he has done his job complete, for life in Japan can be so, especially from a Westerners field of view. "The Roads to Sata" is a journey worth taking.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Captivating, December 2, 2001
This review is from: The Roads to Sata: A 2000-Mile Walk Through Japan (Paperback)
Alan Booth has written probably the most beautiful excuse for every lover of Japan. He doesn't whitewash his subject - the Japanese are a severely 'exceptionable' (a word I didn't make up) people. But he sees them and hears them and has the literary gift to translate it all into seamless, pellucid prose. I took immense pleasure in taking this journey with Alan Booth through the heart of Japan. The loss of him (to cancer) can never be repaired.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, sad, touching, real..., December 27, 2007
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Alan Booth decided to go from Cape Soya in the North to Cape Sata in the South. A journey of more than 2,000 miles. But not only did he decide to walk the whole way he also decides to stick to the back roads, the rural areas of Japan, to get in touch with the real Japan and to stay only in Japanese style inns. In some places he is treated like family and in other places like an invader. After spending seven years in Japan, having a Japanese wife and learning about Japan you would think a walk, even if it is a hard one, would not be so bad. But in some cases it is terrible.
He runs into silent tramps, barking dogs, snotty high school boys, polite high school girls, nervous inn keepers, loud businessmen and giggling maids. He makes mistakes, he founds wonderful discoveries and he founds sad scenes of life and death in 20th Century Japan. Did he learn anything? No. Did he enjoy himself? Yes. Yet, no matter how hard he tried, much of the time he was treated like a foreigner.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Spot On Japan, April 29, 2006
By 
D. Burton (Sydney Australia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Roads to Sata: A 2000-Mile Walk Through Japan (Paperback)
My wife is from the southern tip of Honshu. We recently lived there for a year in her ancestors' countryside fishing village.

I ordered this book from Amazon Japan amongst others. Now I'm back in Australia I can tell you it's a book you can read again and again and feel like you are in Japan. Alan Booth was a master at evoking a sense of place, the Japanese sensibility and their unique view on the world. Booth's subtle sense of humour is wonderful. If you only read one book on Japan, or are looking to spend time amongst the natives, then this book is a 'must'.
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The Roads to Sata: A 2000-Mile Walk Through Japan
The Roads to Sata: A 2000-Mile Walk Through Japan by Alan Booth (Paperback - August 14, 1997)
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