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Hokkaido Highway Blues: Hitchhiking Japan
by Will Ferguson
Will Ferguson wants to be funny and I'm unfortunately not a big fan of "wants to be funny". Mr. Ferguson hitchiked his way from Cape Sata, the southernmost tip of Japan all the way up to Rishiri Island, off the coast of Hokkaido. I find Japan and the Japanese interesting so I was looking forward to reading about Mr. Ferguson's adventures as he follows a mostly coastal path chasing sakura blossoms and meeting some remarkable characters along the way. The appeal of vicarious travel is that with a sufficiently skilful writer you can meet people you would never talk to, even if you actually travelled in the author's footsteps. Will Ferguson spent five years teaching in Japan and his knowledge of the country, the language, the people and their history is not trivial. He manages to convey many interesting anecdoetes and historical incidents but a travel book must be more than that. I found Hokkaido Highway Blues to be inconsistent in quality. The book fails most starkly when the author tries to be funny. Perhaps I'm difficult to please but I just couldn't see the humor in most of Mr. Ferguson's frequent attempts. His style is so trite, you can see a punchline coming from a mile away. No pun intended.

I was so dreadfully bored at times within the book, I was ready to give up - something I rarely do. Though the book in its entirety just passes muster, I think it is safely avoidable. Not recommended.

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