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Riding the Trains in Japan

3.06 of 5 stars 3.06  ·  rating details  ·  36 ratings  ·  13 reviews
Arriving late in Kyoto Patrick Holland cannot find a room for the night. Homeless and disorientated and in a place where loitering is not encouraged his only solution is to ride the trains. The train journey becomes a thread in book that journeys on rivers in Saigon, mountains in the Chinese Himalaya, lost cities of the Silk Road, mist-swathed cemeteries in Japan and the f ...more
Paperback, First, 230 pages
Published 2011 by Transit Lounge
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Patrick Holland went to Japan during a festival time and could not find accommodation. In frustration he decided that the simplest solution would be to purchase a train ticket and remain on the train until the following morning, so solving his accommodation dilemma. Had he written more about how he interacted with this alternative accommodation,coping with washing and showering and his laundry to name a few examples of what such transit travel would challenge the author, it may have been more in ...more
Jay McNair
This was a wonderful companion to my days couriering. I'd pick up a package and then hustle so I could get on the train and keep reading. I just like his stories. The author must be a youngish backpacker, but his voice is mature. And he practices the simple style I like so much.

"I walked outside into the fresh cold. Snow fell on the steps. The stone lanterns were lit. I thought I should begin walking before it became too dark to see."

Sometimes he channels Hemingway:
"Novice monks and nuns skipped
Maggie Chen

Having reflected, there's just too much that's good about this book to justify my previous 3 star review.

There are few writers who can make a place, a scene, a landscape come to life like Holland. And he can tell a mighty good story to boot. 'The Kingdom of Women' where he travels in southwestern China along with a National Geographic Producer, occasionally alongside Michael Palin, and, very reluctantly, with an aging German sex tourist in search of a Sino-Tibetan nation whose women neve
Knut H
A truly superb ground-level study of the Far East, the geopolitics, the arts, the religion and philosophy and, especially, aesthetics, and at the same time a travel narrative that delights in the details as much as the big picture. One misguided review said something about the author secretly espousing a condescending 'Western Enlightenment' view point. It would be difficult to be more perfectly wrong. Holland doesn't seem to have a lot of time for Western philosophy, but if there's one strand o ...more
Riding The Trains in Japan is a great book to be dipping into as I work my way through the longlist for the 2011 Shadow Man Asian Literary Award because it is an enriching work, not just adding to my understanding about Asia in a variety of contexts but also encouraging reflection about travel, identity, memory and the absurdities of modern life.

The piece that gives the book its title is about the time Holland arrived in Kyoto in the middle of the national holiday called O-Bon, the Japanese All
David Winger
What a strange sleeper this book is. I've left my old review here for evidence of what I previously thought. But tonight over a few beers I read the last three essays again. Wow. I misjudged it. A solid four stars for the best of it.

I had half finished this book a while back. Reading Holland's brilliant new novel The Darkest Little Room got me re-interested. I returned to the book with as Seinfeld has it 'unbridled enthusiasm', but, and it may be due to coming straight down from the heights of t
Jul 25, 2015 Aaron rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: japan
Lovely writing, though a note of condescension and entitlement in the author's voice becomes increasingly apparent throughout the book, destroying the subtle profundities that the author seeks to reveal. There is too much racism and hegemonic masculinity masquerading as Western enlightenment for me to possibly recommend this book to anyone.
Beautiful chapter on cemeteries comparing australian and a renowned Kyoto cemetery, philosophy and treatment of the dead.
Some good stories but generally pretty dull.
Pam Ela
Interesting in patches.
David Haberlah
I am not much of a travel literature fan but this author from Brisbane skillfully mixes descriptions of ghost cities in China, spiritual Japanese cemeteries and gardens, non-places such as transit lounges, with deep reflections on space, time, and aesthetics. Thank you Josie for this excellent suggestion!
Cori Stewart
I've enjoyed Holland's fiction more. There are some very insightful moments that made it worthwhile.
Great stories told with real insight...
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Patrick Holland grew up in outback Queensland, Australia. He worked as a stockman until taking up literary studies at Griffith University. He has studied Chinese and Vietnamese at universities in Beijing, Qingdao and Saigon.

His work attempts a strict minimalism inspired by Arvo Pärt and takes up geographical and theological themes, focussing on life’s simplest elements: light and dark; noise, soun
More about Patrick Holland...
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