Books to Read Before Traveling to Japan
I don't know what it is, but I feel like more and more people are traveling to Japan. It certainly has risen in the ranks of my list of countries to visit soon. The beautiful natural landscapes, unique and ancient culture, architecture and stunning cityscapes are all on my horizon. These are the books I'm reading to put me in a Japanese frame of mind.
The Road to Sata: A 2000-Mile Walk Through Japan by Alan Booth. I'm a sucker for treks of any kind. This one is a witty and wry account of one man's journey through Japan using only small backroads.
Japan: A Traveler's Literary Companion by Jeffrey Angles. I love collections like this. It's a round up of amazing literature set in different parts of the country, written by all Japanese authors.
Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami. Books by Murakami are basically required reading for anyone interested in modern Japanese literature. This one is a nostalgic look at teen life. It's got a distinctly lonely and wintery vibe in case you're reading this in the depths of the holiday season.
A Modern History of Japan by Andrew Gordon. Okay, I know this title is a bit of a snoozefest. The book is miles better. It's an accessible, engaging read that takes you from the rise of the Tokugawa shogunate through the Meiji Restoration. It's so much more enjoyable to make the rounds through temples and castles when you know their significance, right?
The Makioka Sisters by Junichiro Tanizaki. So many books set in Japan are Tokyo-centric. This one is different. Set in Osaka, it follows the rise and fall of two aristocratic sisters. The author is also big time in Japan, so it's like you're living like a local before you even get there!
Hitching Rides with Buddha by Will Ferguson. Looking for a humorous travel tale? Will's your guy. He hitchhiked around Japan following the cherry blossoms, and a lot of Japanese and foreign characters.