On the Narrow Road: Journey Into a Lost Japan

Lesley Downer

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On the Narrow Road: Journey Into a Lost Japan

On the Narrow Road Journey Into a Lost Japan British Japanophile writer she lived there for several years returned home to work for a Japanese company and subsequently came up with this book project follows in the footsteps of the legendary w

  • Title: On the Narrow Road: Journey Into a Lost Japan
  • Author: Lesley Downer
  • ISBN: 9780671640477
  • Page: 230
  • Format: Hardcover
  • British, Japanophile writer she lived there for several years, returned home to work for a Japanese company, and subsequently came up with this book project follows in the footsteps of the legendary writer Basho.

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    One thought on “On the Narrow Road: Journey Into a Lost Japan

    1. Gail Pool on said:

      In travel literature there is a strong tradition of writers following in the footsteps of earlier travelers: to try see what they saw, to in some sense share their experience, perhaps to see what has changed. In On the Narrow Path: Journey to a Lost Japan, Lesley Downer enters this tradition, following the path of the great Japanese poet, Matsuo Basho, who in 1689 set off on a 5-month, 800 mile journey to the “wild north” of Japan and in 1693 published The Narrow Path to the Deep North, a bo [...]

    2. Ed on said:

      Lesley Downer in 1985 followed in the tracts of Japan's great Haiku poet Basho into rural northern Japan using Basho's great work The Narrow Road to the Deep North as her guide. I have read and heard a lot about urban Japan and studied quite a bit of Japanese history, but this is the first book that really probes rural backwater Japan and shows what a fundamentally different culture exists there. Her integration of his travels with her journey, her use of Basho's haikus are appropriate moments, [...]

    3. John on said:

      British author retraces the footsteps of legendary 17th Century Japanese writer Basho. She does a good job of contrasting the past and present, though the literary/historical references did bog down things slightly at times for me; readers with a background in those areas should find this book a real treat!

    4. Patrick McCoy on said:

      I got Lesley Downer's book, On The Narrow Road To The Deep North: Journey Into A Lost Japan (1989) as background reading for a trip to the Tohoku region (this time Sendai and surrounding areas-Yamadera and Matsushima). I also read Matsuo Basho's book The Narrow Roads to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches knowing that Downer would refer to them in her travels. And I am glad that I did, she relied on that book and the diaries of his companion Kawai Sora's diary in which he noted the weather, [...]

    5. Stephanie Jane (Literary Flits) on said:

      I downloaded a copy of On The Narrow Road To The Deep North by Lesley Downer when I saw it mentioned in an Endeavour Press newsletter. Like Richard Flanagan's similarly titled Burma railroad novel, The Narrow Road To The Deep North, Downer's book owes its naming to Matsuo Basho's ancient travel memoir. The famous Japanese poet inspired her to follow in his footsteps across the rural north of the country and this fascinating book is her record of the journey.I love the idea of visiting Japan myse [...]

    6. Tim Mitchell on said:

      I bought this book in 1990 when I was living in Thailand; those were the fabled days when the value of property in Tokyo was in theory worth more than the entire US, of gold flakes on sushi, of walking into a small yakitori bar on the Ginza and being told by the hostess on the door 'You can't afford to come in here' (she was right). At the time, I thought this was an elegy for a Japan that was vanishing; I spent a few months in Tokyo and Kyoto in 1984 and it already felt different when I came ba [...]

    7. Jason Keenan on said:

      Lesley Downer follows in the footsteps of the famous poet Basho -- and in her travels through the north country explores his journey from centuries before and her own journeys in a rapidly disappearing rural Japan of the late 20th Century.

    8. Peter Herrmann on said:

      Informative about Japan today (or say in the 1980's when she wrote this) vs the Japan of Basho (17cent) vs 12th Cent Japan (with which Basho compared his observations). A pleasant read, but often too slow not sure why. Some ingredient seems to be missing not sure what.

    9. Reid on said:

      I was mesmerized by what I read of this book until I lost my copy long ago - I really should track down another one and finish it. This was probably my introduction to Japan, besides Salinger's Zen Buddhist references in Nine Stories.

    10. Patricia on said:

      The always erudite Lesley Downer has written an excellent account of her experiences following the path of Basho on his journey to the temples in northern Japan.

    11. Lee on said:

      Good, though it would be better if the author focused on Basho and how her journey connects to his, and less talking about her feelings about some guy she ran into.

    12. Molly on said:

      Another interesting travelogue, especially if you have an interest in Basho.

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