Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Roads to Sata

In Wanderlust: A History of Walking, Rebecca Solnit describes Alan Booth's Roads to Sata: A 2000-Mile Walk Through Japan as "delightful" and "a milestone in how far the literature of walking had come".

Originally published in 1985, Roads to Sata is an account of the author's journey on foot from Cape Soya, the northernmost point of Japan on the island of Hokkaido, to Cape Sata, the southernmost point on the island of Kyushu. It was one of the many books I borrowed from the Christchurch Public Library as a keen, relatively young student of things Japanese in the 1980s, long before I took up walking.

Solnit's mention of Roads to Sata made me want to read it again. Unfortunately it appears the library no longer has a copy. But it's still in print (in fact it's considered something of a classic now), so I've ordered it from The Book Depository (who, unlike Amazon, offer free shipping worldwide, as pointed out by a recent commenter). In the meantime I've borrowed the sequel, Looking for the Lost: Journeys Through a Vanishing Japan, which was published posthumously in 1995 (Booth died in 1993 at the age of 46).

Writing this has made me think how interesting it would be to walk the length of Japan following the same route Booth took as a kind of experiment to see how much things have changed in the nearly 25 years since Roads to Sata was first published.


ricky said...

Alan Booth was a friend and told me that the hard part of the walk was along the main roads with the traffic noise. I found the same thing walking the Ehimeiken part of the Shikoku 88 temples. This is the reason I am interested in the Kumano Kodo ---- almost no roads. However I have discovered as you suggested that the Kohechi is snowbound from December to the beginning of March. So have decided to do the Nakahechi in January which I hope will be OK and the Kohechi in March.

Walking fool said...

Roads usually don't bother me too much. One of the good things about walking in Japan is that even out in the country you find that main roads have decent footpaths. The worst thing is being stuck on a narrow but busy road without a footpath with trucks zooming past. That happened to us a couple of times on the Nakasendo.

Do you know about the Tokai Shizen Hodo (Tokai Nature Trail)? It looks to be largely off-road.