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Hitching Rides With Buddha: Travels in…
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Hitching Rides With Buddha: Travels in Search of Japan (original: 1998; edição: 2006)

de Will Ferguson

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It had never been done before. Not in 4000 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.… (mais)
Membro:fallentree
Título:Hitching Rides With Buddha: Travels in Search of Japan
Autores:Will Ferguson
Informação:Vintage Canada (2006), Paperback, 432 pages
Coleções:Sua biblioteca
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Detalhes da Obra

Hokkaido Highway Blues: Hitchhiking Japan de Will Ferguson (1998)

  1. 00
    The Roads to Sata de Alan Booth (Jannes)
    Jannes: Walking or Hitchhiking? Westerners traversing Japan through somewhat unconventional means. Both are great reads for anyone interested in Japan or travelogues in general.
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This is just what I'm looking for in a travel book. Ferguson goes all along Japan, meeting interesting people along the way. He skips some of the most popular places for tourists, in favor of less well-known cities. This doesn't matter, though; the point is the people and the connections he makes. There's a gimmick—he's hitchhiking—but it isn't just a gimmick. It slows him down and gives him lots of one-on-one interactions with ordinary Japanese. There are lots of interesting characters and conversations, reaching surprising depth (though none of them are overly drawn out on paper). The hitchhiking almost always works out well, and numerous people drive him hours out of their way, or help him find another ride, or take him out for dinner, or to stay at their homes.
He tries to draw cultural lessons and these attempts are at least interesting. Ferguson has a great sense of humor, which comes across both in his writing and in the way he deals with the inevitable frustrations of travel and of hitchhiking in particular.

> I remember a trip to a Japanese zoo, and how the children turned their backs on the caged wildebeest and watched me instead. More interesting than a wildebeest, became my personal motto after that.

> I had heard of bullfights when I was in Okinawa, but I didn't know they were held on the main islands of Japan as well. The sport itself is part pageantry, part parody. The bulls are ranked just as in real sumo, from Grand Champion (yokozuna) down in numbered levels. The bulls being larger than life, a new rank has been added specifically for them, one higher than even yokozuna and rendered, inexplicably, in English: Super Champion. … Then, almost mysteriously, it ends. One bull suddenly loses his courage and breaks away, and the crowds—depending on which way they wagered—either cheer loudly or smile. (The ones smiling have just lost a fortune; this is how you show calamity in Japan.)

> He gave me a look of sorrow and exasperation, and said—in one extended sigh, "The gods are the mountains. They aren't real in the way you say. The gods exist in the act of climbing a mountain, a sacred mountain." He shook his head and gave up.

> Yukio strode out, into the middle of traffic, and began flagging down vehicles. He would check their license plates as they approached, to make sure they were from the next prefecture—no point hitching a short hop—and then raise a hand in an almost imperious manner.

> In Tanoura School an old textbook showed students precisely how far to bow to their superiors (forty-five degrees) and the proper way for women and girls to kneel. "One of the first phrases a child learned to write," said Akihira, "was sakura ga saita, 'the cherry blossoms have bloomed. ' "

> "She died.... Not so long ago. A year. Less, less than a year." He smiled. It was a smile of sadness, an expression that is deeply Japanese. I used to be baffled by smiles of sadness, but now I think I understand. These smiles reveal emotions even as they seek to conceal them. They say, I am sad and so I will smile in the understanding that you will realize that it is only a façade that hides a hurt too deep for tears.

> Asked if there is widespread racism in Japan, the average Japanese will be aghast at the question. They equate racism with overt acts of violence, which are rare in Japan. But it is a racist nation. It is racist in the deepest, purest meaning of the word. In Japan, race is taken as being a tangible definition of someone's talents, worth, and membership. And that is racism at its most refined; an unshakable belief in the primacy of blood. None of Japan's three main subcastes—burakumin, Chinese, or Korean— are what we would call visible minorities, but they are easy enough to detect … Burakumin towns traditionally did not exist; they were not marked on maps nor were they signposted, a habit that lingers in present municipal attitudes

> Every time I took a stab at conversation, he stopped me with a raised hand and a small embarrassed laugh and said, " No English. Sorry. " " But—but I'm speaking Japanese, really I am." " English. No." It was demoralizing.

> He spent six years as a Shingon missionary in San Francisco and had adapted well to life in America but, when his father died, he was forced to return to Shōdo Island and take over the family temple. "I'm the oldest son," he said simply. Priesthood is not a calling in Japan; it is a hereditary post. Training and proper knowledge are absolutely necessary, but a deep spirituality is not mandatory. As in so many things in Japan, it is proper behavior that is the essence of worship: how to follow the rituals, how to recite key sutras, how to avoid making errors of protocol.

> The Transformer approach to things is very different from hidden greatness and secret identities. A secret identify is a superficial mask. Superman fools people, Batman wears a hood, but the Transformers change completely. They don't hide their true self, they rearrange it entirely to fit the situation. By now I was studying these toys like an anthropologist … Shuhō leaned over to me and said, "If you like that toy you can have it." I was tempted—the dual-identity Transformer was a perfect talisman for anyone traveling in Japan—but I declined the offer. Even I have my limits, and taking toys from children, even incredibly cool toys, was something I usually tried to avoid.

> Mr. Ito formally apologized to me on behalf of the cherry trees. "The younger trees blossom later," said Mrs. Ito, making it sound almost poetic. "The older flowers are pink, the younger ones are whiter—purer."

> We dined in the hotel restaurant, overlooking the view and enjoying a meal that must have cost a small fortune, but the Itos waved away my proffered wallet. "You are our guest." "A friend." "A very nice boy." We talked until nightfall, and the lights of the bay glimmered across the water. The Bridge of Heaven was now a silhouette and the Itos were saying goodbye. Mrs. Ito sighed and said, "It is a shame our daughter wasn't here. I'm sure you would have much to say to her." Later, when I checked out, I discovered that her husband had covered the cost of my room.

> Caught in the momentum, Ōishi ended up driving me all the way to Tsuruga City, over an hour out of his way.

> if Alexander didn't like a particular place—say the service was bad or he couldn't find a parking spot—he would simply turn his army loose and they would raze the buildings, salt the fields, and enslave the general population. It sounded like a lot of fun. The point being, had I my own conquering army, Fukui City would no longer be standing. What a hole.

> Kanazawa Station was ringed with bright neon signs and massive, contemporary slabs of hotel. You know the kind; they have names like The Hyatt Royal Regent Davenport Imperial Overpriced Inn, and are lit up at night as though they were the Parthenon itself and not simply a large filing cabinet for humans … Like every hotel in Japan, it was ridiculously overstaffed. Entire fleets of doormen circled the lobby, searching desperately for something to do. They were trying to look busy so that the manager wouldn't notice he had fourteen people to open two doors and empty three ashtrays. Then again, this hotel probably had fourteen managers as well. Heck, it even had escalator girls. That's right, escalator girls. They stand beside the hotel escalators all day long and bow to every honorable guest that passes by.

> The Japanese, meanwhile, can't distinguish between shame and embarrassment; in Japan, to be embarrassed is to be ashamed, the two are inseparable, which may or may not signify something about the Japanese value system as a whole. Yet at the same time, the Japanese have a pair of words, wabi and sabi, which together signify the beauty of the ephemeral and the fleeting; the aesthetic of decay, asymmetrical detail and natural color, and an appreciation of the incomplete, the impermanent, the imperfect.

> "Hello, Willy-chan!" said Mr. Nakamura, without a flicker of what had passed between us the night before. In Japan, saké time is dreamtime; all is forgotten in the light of dawn. Mr. Nakamura, I noticed, no longer addressed me as Mr. but as "chan," a suffix reserved for friends and small children

> Japanese police have frightening powers, no one having the courage to tell them that Japan's feudal age has ended and that Japan is now a democracy (of sorts). … "You tried to hitch a ride with the Japanese police on a national expressway?" "Yes." It was all he could do not to slap his desk and laugh out loud. His mouth twitched with suppressed laughter. "Ah, yes. Well—" He started to giggle and tried to stop himself.

> Kikumi and her husband didn't catch a quick good-bye kiss on the fly as she charged out of the house—in Japan, even with someone as ebullient as Kikumi, that would be unheard of—but she did squeeze his arm, gently, briefly, as she was about to leave. It was one of the most touching gestures I had seen in a long time

> These notebooks are the most bizarre aspect of staying in a Love Hotel. Each page has a cartoon Kama Sutra of sexual positions and space for messages. Couples circle the sex positions they tried and leave notes to the people who follow.

> The Ainu were not officially recognized as being Japanese citizens until 1992. The Japanese government refuses to use the term indigenous when discussing the Ainu (to avoid having to accept responsibility for what happened and to stave off growing demands for a land claims settlement). An important point: the Ainu never ceded their lands nor ever acknowledged Japanese authority, making them one of the few aboriginal groups in the world that have never been offered a treaty by the people who invaded their territory.

> He had the face of a boxer who has seen one too many fights. Heavy, lugubrious features. (I'm not really sure what "lugubrious features" means, but if anyone had them, it was Mr. Saito.) … Mr. Saito's wife stopped in and we chatted a bit in Japanese. Mr. Saito listened with a keen ear, and as soon as his wife excused herself, he leaned over and said to me—in what would be the first and only honest assessment I would ever receive of my second language ability—"Your Japanese is terrible."

> "Are you a sailor?" they'd ask. "I am being from Vladivostok," I would say in what I hoped was a suitably Slavic manner. "Here on business?" "Nyet, nyet. I am, how you say—" and here my voice would drop "—shopping." "Shopping?" "For bicycles." It was all very entertaining, and I like to think I helped escalate international tensions ever so slightly, for which I am suitably proud. ( )
  breic | Jun 11, 2020 |
Will Ferguson, after teaching English in Japan for a couple of years, decided to hitchhike from the southernmost point of Japan to the northernmost, following the cherry blossoms.

This is a very funny book! There were plenty of laugh-out-loud moments in Ferguson’s descriptions of Japan, and of the people who picked him up along the way. The book is mixed with descriptions of the places he was (mostly off-the-beaten-path, where you won’t find many tourists), as well as the people he met and some history and mythology thrown in. Personally, I found the people the most interesting part of the book. I really, really enjoyed it. ( )
  LibraryCin | Nov 30, 2019 |
UE
  Vincenzop. | Apr 13, 2018 |
one of good travelogue that i have.. technically its not exactly a travelogue but it was fun reading the book. got many insights of Japan and Japanese people, would love to be there and experience some aspects as mentioned in the book. Good fun read. ( )
  _RSK | Jan 26, 2016 |
This book looks as if it were the one who hitchhiked from Kyushu to Hokkaido. I bought it used but now it's looking loved, which is fitting because I quite enjoyed the book.


School enkai
You'll laugh, you'll cry--
Kiss inchi-man en good-bye

While that came to be WF's symbol for the hanami, I think it can symbolise Japan all around. It's such a social culture geared torward going out as there is really no room to socialise in the home, and it's not that going out it expensive in and of itself, but it all adds up.

This book also has going for it what Roff Smith's Cold Beer and Crocodiles did--it's made me curious to see more of a place, in this case Japan, than I'd initially dreamed of, but we'll see. I'm thinking of travelling around northern Japan before I leave. I didn't last time and this second chance is probably the last chance, so we'll see.

You will find very little greenery in Japanese cities, true. But you will also find very little of Japan in most Japanese cities.

1000% agreed. I'd always said that Osaka didn't feel very Japanese until I went to Tokyo, which is so western it's not even funny. But now after having been to Fuji-san and Kyushu, Osaka is back to being barely Japanese. That's not bad and as I've said before, I love Osaka with all my heart and can't imagine living anywhere else in Japan, but at the same time I must admit I don't feel I'm getting as much of a Japanese experience as I could be. I loved the futsu train, both on JR and Hisatsu Orange from Kagoshima to Sendai and through Kumamoto to Nagasaki--the small towns, the coast, the ekibens--they just don't exist here. But then again what is Japan? I have no desire to hitchhike the country from end to end, but it was the first place I ever hitchhiked. (Mom/Dad, if you're reading this--it was 3 1/2 years ago so clearly I survived--and I wasn't silly enough to do it alone :) )

One of my fondest memories of the first stint in Japan was hanami in Himeji, which Rebecca and I went to soon after my return from Australia. It was also Japan at it's prettiest and I'd love to chase the sakura from Sata to Soya, but I think I'd do it from the comfort of futsu, I really would.

We talked about Japanese food for the rest of the way, agreeing wholeheartedly that foreigners can't possibly eat pickled plums or fermented beans or raw fish or horseradish

ARGH! I forever seek to ban my students from asking "What kind of Japanese food do you like?" and "Can you eat raw fish?" because you think they'd know by now that 90% of gaijin can and do love sushi. With natto it's bit more hit and miss, thank god my studentd don't see fit to ask about umeboshi, but you'd think by now the novelty in asking us this would have worn off?

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. While I haven't gotten as fed up as WF did re jozu desu ne, I get close. Yes I am gaijin (never in my time in Osaka have I heard gaijin-san!), yes I can speak chotto Nihongo. We all speak a hybrid of it. It leads to us speaking to others who invariable end up asking what nani, onsen, ryokan, etc mean and it's only then we realise that these words haven't always been in our vocabularies.

I believe that one of the signs of maturity is a dislike of youth hostels. When I was nineteen, I loved the rapport and collective energy. At twenty-five, I was starting to find it all very annoying. And now that I'd entered my thirties, it was all I could do not to go around arbitrarily slapping people in the head.

A year in Australia I coped fine with hostels but when it came time to face a skeevy youth hostel on Sakurajima or check myself into a ryokan in Kagoshima, I went with the extra money. It's funny how cheapness can disappear at times when one has a salary.

He skipped a lot of my favourite places in the Kansai area, but he did make it to Amanohashidate aka Bridge of Heaven, which has been on my list for sometime, however after his description I'm not entirely sure it's worth the effort to get there, so we will have to see. It was nice to hear about Sado, which has been on my 'to see' list ever since I saw the Kodo Drummers. He didn't go to some of the areas in East Japan that I am most curious about; Hakone and Nikko.

When he was waiting for the leprechauns, the TAkashi's to pick him up he mentioned how they'd passed him a few times before committing--that was the story of Rebecca's and my afternoon when we were trying to get back to Hotel Sunnide from Kawaguchiko proper. We watched this couple watch us from the restaurant window and then circle us before agreeing to a ride--I'd love to know what they hope to learn from us by circling.

He also went on to mention how Juroku Rakan aren't mentioned in any of his guidebooks but then I came to learn over the course of the Australia trip that the best places aren't. I'm thoroughly temple and shrined out and have no desire to see Kamakura or Ise really, but carved deities could be way cool.

One shouldn't talk about the war in Japan. This is one of the first rules of conversation. Every family has a litany of sorrows and a closet filled with skeletons. As often as not, Southeast Asian skeletons.

Indeed, yet we always seem to end up doing this. I feel odd, almost untrue to myself if I mention having been to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, yet at the same time I feel odd mentioning it to my students. It's like a no-win.

And as for his final realisation. That surprised me and it didn't. You're never through with Japan, it has to be through with you otherwise it keeps clawing back at you. It did inspire me enough to go Googling but I still haven't tracked down how he finally made it back to the mainland.

I have promised to lend this to Wiebke. May make it into a ring on its return as I think this is one I'd like to reread. ( )
1 vote skinglist | Jan 7, 2016 |
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It had never been done before. Not in 4000 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.

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