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Hitching Rides with Buddha

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  3,269 Ratings  ·  289 Reviews
Take a humorist from the Great White North — one part Bob and Doug McKenzie, the other Bill Bryson — feed him lots of sake, and set him loose hitchhiking his way through polite Japanese society. The result is one of the warmest and funniest travelogues you've read. It had never been done before. Not in four thousand years of Japanese recorded history had anyone followed th ...more
Paperback, 432 pages
Published April 21st 2006 by Canongate U.S. (first published 1998)
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Giulia Yes, that was the original title of the book later changed.
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Not many things that advertise themselves as blues actually deliver the emotion. It was somewhat startling, then, to discover that this book is in fact deeply, profoundly melancholic.

Ferguson started with nothing but a boast, elevated by coworkers more enthusiastic than he is into a grand plan. To hitchhike the length of Japan isn't a particularly sane or rational plan, but caught up in the enthusiasm of those who hear of it, he eventually goes through with it.

In the beginning, all is well. Thi
This book stopped me falling asleep at my regular hour night after night because it had me laughing so much. Will Ferguson's ironic sense of humour is very amusing, and a nice balance to his insightful observations on Japan. I'm usually suspicious of foreigners who spend a few years in Japan, take themselves too seriously and decide to write a book explaining some aspect of unique, mysterious Japan. But this guy is fully qualified, having done enough time in the country in a remote area, learned ...more
Se incontri il Buddha lungo la strada, non ucciderlo. Tira fuori il pollice. Chissà, potrebbe anche offrirti un passaggio.

Giappone, Giappone... tanto amato quanto malvisto, tanto idealizzato quanto pregiudicato.
Il diario di viaggio di un canadese nel Sol Levante è un facile specchietto per le allodole (i nippofili), decisamente facili all'entusiasmo specialmente, si sa, quando ci sono di mezzo i sakura, ormai divenuti simbolo di quanto di poetico il Giappone possiede. Il pericolo di una simile l
Serena.. Sery-ously?
Apr 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Se non avete taaaanto tempo e disponibilità economica, NON leggete questo libro: la voglia di esplorare il Giappone in autostop con Will Ferguson sarà quasi dolorosa..

Giuro, io volevo prendere e partire seduta stante; mentre lavoravo con la mente mi ritrovavo a fantasticare delle mete viste, dei prossimi passi, del "certo quel posto era proprio figo" e soprattutto, ho provato un senso di attesa e di meraviglia come se fossi veramente lì! Will Ferguson ha fatto una piccola magia con il suo libro:
May 29, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another wonderful travelogue... the traveler this time makes astute observations of the Japanese nationals he encounters as he hitchhikes north from the southernmost tip of Japan.

Being an Asian-American, I can see both sides of the espy. It is easy to relate to the often awkward, big-hearted, intensely curious, 'liberal' American being given an opportunity to look through a usually closed window into the private lives of the average Japanese citizen in Japan.
I can also see how the Japanese use t
May 24, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

William "Will" Ferguson è uno scrittore canadese, nato in Fort Vermilion, Alberta in Canada. Anche informandomi sul suo conto non sono riuscita a capire bene come sia finito in Giappone ad insegnare inglese, visto che sembra aver fatto studi di cinema all'università e niente che giustifichi un viaggio del genere nel paese del sol levante.
E' vero che lui stesso ammette di essere approdato in Giappone senza sapere assolutamente niente della lingua, ma scoprire che non aveva nemmeno le basi per in
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May 13, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Greatly enjoyed this - found myself giggling a lot and reading bits out loud to my husband. Many of the author's experiences mirrored my own, and the whole thing is free of the pompousness and attitude of having attained deep insights into the "other" that afflicts so much writing about Japan. Don't know what those who haven't been to Japan, or who led a different sort of life there, would make of it, but it worked for me.
Sep 16, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Will Ferguson seems to be a very honest writer. He not only tells of his journeys, but of this thinking and -- most importantly -- the things he does and says even when he's being a jerk. Very believable. Occasionally laugh out loud funny.

After teaching English in Japan for a few years, he decides to hitchhike from the southernmost tip of Japan (a very lush, almost tropical area) to the northernmost tip (think Northern sea, icebergs off the coast sort of place). He follows the sakura, the cherr
Apr 09, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I absolutely adored this book. It has hitched its way into my Top 5 Books of the Year and Top 10 Fave books on Japan.

The main thing I enjoyed was Wil Ferguson's writing style. He has this fantastic ability to be poetic in one paragraph:

I think I caught Niigata on a bad day. Everything looked sullen and solied and worn out. Even the cities smokestacks, painted in stripes like candy canes, emerged from the industrial haze like sooty sweets dug out from under a sofa cushion.

and hilariously profane
Aug 08, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of travel books, people interested in japan
Shelves: japan, non-fiction
This one was interesting. Ferguson is definitely a westerner in a different culture and sometimes he seems to revel in making encounters awkward, instead of taking the easy route. However, he hitchhiked from the bottom of Japan to the top, went to dozens and dozens of places off the main tourist routes, met dozens and dozens of people and the book is filled with interesting moments and observations. Observations on places, on people, and on two cultures meeting each other and trying to have a co ...more
Strona po stronie
It's an account of a very unique journey - hitchhiking through Japan alongside the cherry blossom front. The travelogue is both oddly poetic / melancholic and ironic / somewhat crude (it really made me laugh at times :) ). It covers meeting lots of Japanese people, contemplating the Japanese culture and typical Japanese mindsets. Mindsets that the Author is pretty much accustomed to. They are actually one of the reasons why he loves&hates Japan - he knows with every fiber of his being that t ...more
Mar 24, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is the answer I needed all those years in Japanese class when my fellow students seemed to idolize the Japanese as if they were some sort of super race that could do no wrong and had invented everything that was cool. This book shows what a gaijin would face during their time in Japan. Like Will Ferguson they would have their share of adventures and meetings with really nice, helpful people and then they would have those times when they just wished they weren't treated as entertainment ...more
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Questo "diario di viaggio" è stato una piacevole scoperta non avendo mai letto niente di simile, mi ha appassionato e fatto divertire un mondo! Ferguson è un grande narratore sempre scorrevole e brillante; poi l'idea di fare tutto il Giappone in autostop seguendo la fioritura dei ciliegi è geniale! Quale modo migliore per conoscere/approfondire miti, cultura e usanze di un popolo cosi diverso da "noi" occidentali! Consigliato.
Tasha Swinney
Feb 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, japan
I thought Ferguson's memoir was excellent and well-written. He provides really important insights and muses on what it's like to be a Westerner in Japanese culture. He's not a total Japanophile and he isn't particularly jaded, he has an average perspective and I think that's important. Too many expats are at one end or the other of the extreme. I've been familiar with Japanese culture for years, but Ferguson had things to teach me as well, including insights into Buddhism and Shintoism, and the ...more
Candice Walsh
Sep 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Laugh out loud funny, as per usual with Ferguson. I must go to Japan.
Mar 23, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
At the time of writing the book Will Ferguson was a Canadian EFL teacher working in Japan. He sets out from Cape Sata the Southern most point of Japan to travel to Hokkaido in the farthest Northern tip. The purpose of the trip is ostensibly to chase the progress of the sakura or cherry blossoms traditionally a time of festivities and drinking of copious glasses of sake in the company of said cherry blossom trees. He decides to hitch hike for most of the journey as he believes that that is a more ...more
Un ironico scrittore canadese decide di percorrere tutto il Giappone dal sud verso il nord seguendo lo sbocciare degli alberi di ciliegio, i sakura (che i giapponesi festeggiano facendo pic nic sotto le loro fronde). Alla domanda del giornalista, alla fine del viaggio (che non vi dico come va a finire) "Perché ha voluto fare questo viaggio?" Lui risponde: "Volevo conoscere i giapponesi come individui e non come una massa senza nome e senza volto." Eh già perché, come dice il titolo del libro, Wi ...more
Jun 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This man can do me no wrong with this book, I got a few others hooked on it as well, his stories of his journey from south to north Japan by hitchhiking only to chase the sakura front are laced with wit and sarcasm that could easily put some Brits to shame :p

Ironically I read this book when I was travelling across West Japan and Shikoku from Tokyo, which proved to be a hidden bonus as I decided to retrace some of his steps from his book while I was reading and laughing like an idiot on the train
✘✘ Sarah ✘✘ (former Nefarious Breeder of Murderous Crustaceans)
This was such a fun read! I picked this up because I had read Happiness and enjoyed it very much. Now I think I'm fast becoming a Will Ferguson fan:) "Hokkaido Highway Blues" is really refreshing in the sense that it doesn't offer a clichéd view of Japan at all. It's very witty, insightful, thoughtful and highly enjoyable! It definitely makes you want to book a ticket to Japan straight away:o) This is one of the best travelogues I've read recently and would recommend it to anyone with an interes ...more
Mar 23, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Katie by: rough guide to japan
An interesting glimpse into Japan. However, this book needed more editing to whittle it down into the terrific book that could have been. Ferguson, who does seem like an ok guy, tends to showcase his personality in a manner that I find obnoxious. He shows us something, and then he tells us too with phrases along the lines of "I'm just that kind of a guy." Yes, we have picked up on that. Ferguson, don't be so insecure, you've got a great story here, just tell it. Still, recommended if you're inte ...more
Oct 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book so much, I deliberately savored it slowly over a month. Ferguson shares irreverent, hilarious anecdotes and wickedly incisive observations that many travel writers would fear to pen. It's a brutally honest book, and I found his truthfulness as sharp and refreshing as an autumn breeze. But it's also evocative and contemplative, waxing Zen when the laughter dies down. For anyone with any experience of Japan, I think you'll be nodding along in recognition of "yes, my thoughts exac ...more
Jason Keenan
Jul 15, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: japan
Canadian writer and humourist Will Ferguson offers up one of the strangest - and most delightful - travel books about Japan.

Hitching Rides With Buddha takes on the challenge of following the cherry blossoms from south to north in Japan -- all using the rare transportation mode of hitching a ride.

Really this is a collection of great stories about the characters he meets on the journey -- and the kindness of strangers. It's a glimpse into a Japan not often revealed by Western writers.

It's a fun r
Tom Barker
Aug 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Not just one of my favorite travel books or books about Japan,but one of my favorite books period.Nice to read a travel book about Japan that actually gets beneath the surface and strikes a nice balance between fawning or bashing, unlike many others by people who stay for a year and consider themselves experts*see "Learning to bow" for example.

He makes fun of Japan alot but also doesnt take himself too seriously which makes for some funny stuff.
May 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I totally enjoyed this memoir of hitch hiking the length of Japan, south to north, intent on following the cherry blossoms. There were passages that made me laugh out loud. Mr. Ferguson is everything I like in a travel writer: interesting observations, a sense of humor, a bit of snarkiness, a sense of wonder and most importantly, the knack for making the reader feel like they are on the same journey with the writer. This is the first book I've read of his but it won't be the last!
Michael Blackmer
Will Ferguson has written a wonderfully funny travel memoir of his journey to follow the Cherry Blossom Front along the length of Japan. For the humor alone I would recommend this book. Ferguson has added enough history and human interest stories about the places he visited to give the book more substance than just a diary of his journey.
James Eckman
Ferguson snarks his way up Japan following the cherry blossoms in this mostly humorous account of hitchhiking. Sacred cows like Japanese exceptionalism, lack of racism, etc. are cheerfully roasted. Traveling anywhere as an obvious foreigner off the main tourist routes in Japan can lead to bizarre experiences. A fun read once sort of thing.
“Paesaggi. Facce. Tramonti. Ali di aeroplano. Scatti da turista mescolati a ritratti di fiori tipo natura morta. Ero venuto in Giappone per cercare una sorta di equilibrio. Un un nuovo inizio. Un piano d’azione. Ma in un modo o nell’altro, lungo il cammino, ero diventato un collezionista di banalità e souvenir, e scrivendo cartoline indirizzare a un me stesso futuro che - chissà come - avrebbe saputo dare un senso a tutto ciò. Rimandare il giudizio più in là non risolve niente, e tutto quello c ...more
I have mixed feelings about this book. It is beautifully written, creating vivid imagery of the places that he visits along his journey north in Japan. It is also often quite humorous, anecdotes here and there bringing out a bit if a chuckle. However, there is also a bit of mean spiritedness in there, in some of his interactions with local people kind enough to give him a ride, or with others he meets along the way. There is a bitterness there as well, and I wonder if the melancholy tone (it is ...more
Jan 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hokkaido Highway Blues by Will Ferguson is a laugh-out-loud funny travel book about his adventures while hitchhiking the 3000+km length of Japan. Ferguson sneaks funny little subversive comments into his scintillating prose and laughter was ripped out of me. One poor passenger on a long international flight turned around in alarm to see what I was laughing about and another passenger used my laughter as an entree into an interesting conversation about expat life in Kuwait. More than funny though ...more
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Will Ferguson is an award-winning travel writer and novelist. His last work of fiction, 419, won the Scotiabank Giller Prize. He has won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour a record-tying three times and has been nominated for both the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and a Commonwealth Writers’ Prize. His new novel, The Shoe on the Roof, will be released October 17, 2017. Visit him at ...more
More about Will Ferguson...
“...when you are constantly prevailing upon the kindness of strangers-as a hitchhiker must-it keeps you in a positive frame of mind. Call it Zen and the Art of Hitchhiking. The Way of the Lift. The chrysanthemum and the Thumb. Heady on beer and the sound of my own voice, the aphorisms spilled out unchecked.” 3 likes
“Deferring judgement to a later date resolves nothing and all you are left with is a box of jumbled slides and a collection of knick-knacks and odds and ends. Here a face. There a sunset.” 2 likes
More quotes…