The Roads to Sata

By Alan Booth,

Book cover of The Roads to Sata: A 2000-mile walk through Japan

Book description

'A memorable, oddly beautiful book' Wall Street Journal

'A marvellous glimpse of the Japan that rarely peeks through the country's public image' Washington Post

One sunny spring morning in the 1970s, an unlikely Englishman set out on a pilgrimage that would take him across the entire length of Japan. Travelling…

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Why read it?

4 authors picked The Roads to Sata as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This travelogue brilliantly narrates Alan Booth’s southward trek across Japan, end to end, from Cape Soya in Hokkaido to Cape Sata in Kyushu. The book’s subtitle, A 2,000 Mile Walk Through Japan, speaks volumes. The journey, which some would call masochistic, is practically measured in blisters. We see Booth, fluent in Japanese, trudge through rain and shine along backcountry roads, from greasy spoons to lonesome karaoke bars, collapsing into countless futons along the way. His journey comes to life with colorful characters, boozy local festivals, and pithy realizations about his adopted homeland, at turns entertaining, illuminating, and hilarious. For…

A loud-mouthed, liquor-loving British expat, Alan Booth was the last person you would imagine feeling at home among the shy, polite, self-effacing Japanese – and that’s the secret of the book’s charm, as this eccentric barbarian sets off to walk the entire length of Japan, from the top of Hokkaido to Cape Sata, the southernmost tip of Kyushu. Everywhere he goes his over-size personality evokes the best and most characteristic in the people he meets along the way, and he records the whole mad escapade with the pen of an angel. 

From Peter's list on modern Japan.

This is fascinating and enjoyable read. Alan Booth so inspired me to go out looking for ‘the real Japan’ that I went out and did the same – walked the 3200km length of Japan and wrote a book about it. I’d lived in Japan before I read Booth’s book, but I hadn’t even glimpsed the Japan that he was immersed in on his journey. As Booth said, when you walk, you talk to everyone you meet, you see the real beating heart of the country. You get behind the ‘tatemae’, the outer face of the country that Japan…

From Craig's list on understanding Japan and the Japanese.

Though written in the mid-80s, Alan Booth’s account of walking the entire length of Japan remains one of my favourite books on Japan. Fluent in Japanese, Booth passes through the country, closely observing its smallest details and quirks, largely of rural life, reporting what he sees, smells, hears and feels on his journey.

Funny in some parts, graceful and poetic in others, anyone who has spent extended time in Japan will knowingly nod and chuckle, recognising many of the traits, situations and irritations that he alludes to. How much of the rural charm that Booth captured so well, has now…

From Sam's list on life in Japan.

Want books like The Roads to Sata?

Our community of 10,000+ authors has personally recommended 100 books like The Roads to Sata.

Browse books like The Roads to Sata

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in Japan, Tokyo, and Samurais?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about Japan, Tokyo, and Samurais.

Japan Explore 471 books about Japan
Tokyo Explore 85 books about Tokyo
Samurais Explore 39 books about Samurais