Although theoretically I have a right to be peeved off (book republished as "hitching rides with Buddha", I picked it up at a used bookstore thinking it was a sequel), actually I will bump up the rating for HHB to 4/5, based on quality of re-read. first read this possibly as early as '98... more likely, '00... just years ago, in other words. remembered only its broad topic matter and a flicker of a data point / scene description here or there; indeed did not specifically realize it was a republished book until the 4th chapter or so.
Ferguson's 1998 work reverses the direction of Alan booth's legendary north tip to south tip of japan walk, although WF relies on hitchhiking rather than walking. Compared to the famous austere even melancholy tone of booth's [b:Roads to Sata|171242|The Roads to Sata A 2000-Mile Walk Through Japan|Alan Booth|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1266488012s/171242.jpg|165359] , ferguson is the (somewhat chubby) extrovert and go-getter who elicits adventure out of his fluent Japanese and wandering spirit. Originally I found the work a poor imitation, but I have softened to the less heroic types of the world. (in other words, although Booth's work clearly deserves a superior rating/reception, at least the difference is not a 3 star to 5 star matter, and indeed, some might prefer ferguson)
Possibly a small area at the end that might be contrved but otherwise book is pretty much as one would expect, a canadian hitching from south tip to north japan, sore about constantly being called american, one moment catharsis, one possible love affair thing
In fairness gets the four for the investment involved; plus sympathy vote for the only 150 reviews; a neat introduction to japan although it does have the "i explain japan" factor