This excerpt from Lonely Planet’s Japan guide provides a selection of travel literature to enhance your trip.
Travel books about Japan often end up turning into extended reflections on the eccentricities or uniqueness of the Japanese. One writer who did not fall prey to this temptation was Alan Booth. The Roads to Sata (1985) is the best of his writings about Japan, and traces a four-month journey on foot from the northern tip of Hokkaidō to Sata, the southern tip of Kyūshū.
Booth’s Looking for the Lost – Journeys Through a Vanishing Japan (1995) was his final book, and again recounts walks in rural Japan. Booth loved Japan, warts and all, and these books reflect his passion and insight into the country.
A more recent account of a trek across the length of Japan is Craig McLachlan’s enjoyable Four Pairs of Boots (1998). The same author’s Tales of a Summer Henro (1997) recounts his journey around the 88 Sacred Temples of Shikoku. Both books are light and easy to read, and give an excellent insight into today’s Japan.
Alex Kerr’s Lost Japan (1996) is not strictly a travel book, though he does recount some journeys in it; rather, it’s a collection of essays on his long experiences in Japan. Like Booth, Kerr has some great insights into Japan and the Japanese, and his love for the country is only matched by his frustration at some of the things he sees going wrong here.
Donald Richie’s The Inland Sea (1971) is a classic in this genre. It recounts the author’s island-hopping journey across the Seto Inland Sea in the late 1960s. Richie’s elegiac account of a vanished Japan makes the reader nostalgic for times gone by.
More travel literature reading lists for other destinations can be found here