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KLIATTCanadian writer Will Ferguson's hilarious travelogue chronicles his time spent in Japan. Having already been in the country for a few years, teaching English in high schools on the remote Amakusa Islands, he is forced to embark on a journey across Japan after drunkenly announcing to a group of Japanese colleagues his heroic intention of following the Cherry Blossom Front to the furthest reaches of Hokkaido, at the northern end of the country. While he attempts to brush off his declaration when consistently reminded of it--"When I said I would follow the blossoms, I was speaking figuratively"--he soon finds himself hopelessly committed to discovering the True Heart of Japan. In an effort to travel with the Japanese and not merely amongst them, Ferguson decides to become the first person ever to hitchhike the length of Japan. Needless to say, he soon meets with an eclectic array of individuals, despite the fact that the Japanese apparently "never, ever pick up hitchhikers." In the 400 pages that follow, Ferguson acquaints readers intimately with the Japanese people and their culture, both historical and contemporary; he includes accounts of his pilgrimages to ancient Shinto shrines and to modern-day capsule hotels and sex museums, with some chapters devoted entirely to Japanese history and folklore. Humorous, honest and at times poignant, readers will be in no rush to arrive at Hokkaido, which is well worth the journey. KLIATT Codes: SA--Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2005, Canongate, 410p., $14.00.. Ages 15 to adult.