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Into the Wilds of Central Japan

5 Comments
By GB Hilton

There is no resisting the pull of a faraway land, especially when that land has been calling you, in one way or another, your entire life. For author G.B. Hilton, that land is Japan. At age twenty eight, he boarded a plane bound for Tokyo and set out on a three month journey that would alter the course of his life. The story of that journey is told in his newest book, "In the Wilds of Central Japan."

“I found myself standing in front of a glowing wall of softly humming vending machines, about fifteen in a row. The dazzling colors and the unexpected serenity of their plate glass faces drew me in. Like some kind of addict hunting for a fix, I started feeding bills and coins into their slots, pressing buttons for whatever looked interesting, tasty, or repulsive. When I found a vending machine selling live carp in clear plastic water-filled bags, I drew the line. I had nowhere to put a live carp, and was aware of the karmic irony of leaving it on the sidewalk to asphyxiate next to a vending machine selling Buddhist charms…”

Excerpt from "In the Wilds of Central Japan"

Starting on Japan’s main island of Honshu, Hilton visits the rural home of an ex-girlfriend who tries to rekindle the flame, before making his way south to Kyushu on a road trip with a failed geisha who didn’t make the cut. All the while, he dives into Japan’s history, its rural roots, and its modern culture, from the shrines and mausoleums of Nikko to the gardens and love hotels of Kyoto, the “thousand year capital”.

In between, Hilton experiences much of what Japan has to offer and some of what it doesn’t. He spends a cold night on a wet park bench, gets seduced by an ex-girlfriend’s younger sister, wanders into a room full of stone phalluses, and gulps down half a dozen energy drinks before realizing what they are. Under bright moonlight, he stumbles upon a hilltop shrine for mizuko—Japan’s infamous water babies, which bear the weight of an untold number of unborn souls—and spends a night at a graveyard in a suicide sedan. Throughout it all, he learns how little he knows about Japan and himself, and in a rare moment of resolve, decides to stop treating Japan and life like “one big pub crawl.”

This passionate, humorous, and personal tale is more than a travel story and more than a paean to a fascinating country and an amazing culture. It’s also one man’s story of escaping his past and discovering possibility, and an unexpected future, far from home. With keen observations and vivid writing, Hilton brings modern Japan and the outsider’s place in it to life and offers a truly unique perspective. The result is much like the book itself: moving, poignant, and unforgettable.

Readers interested in Japan, its people and its culture, and the journey we all must undertake, no matter how far we travel in life, will find something to love, laugh with, and relate to in Hilton’s latest work. "In the Wilds of Central Japan" is available on Amazon worldwide in print and EBook formats.

"In the Wilds of Central Japan" is available on Amazon worldwide in print and EBook formats.

© Japan Today

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

5 Comments
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3 entire months in Japan, gosh the insights must be penetrating.

An "ex-girlfriend who tries to rekindle the flame," getting "seduced by an ex-girlfriend’s younger sister," and "a road trip with a failed geisha who didn’t make the cut." Charisma-man syndrome at its finest.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

When you start carrying your tranliterated kanji name hanko and Coco Ichibanya commemorative curry spoon everywhere, you just might earn the right to 'graduate' to Chrysanthe-man status. Then you are given the secret fourth object that beats all others in jankenpon.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I enjoy reading travel literature in general. But I have to agree with others here that spending three months somewhere does not really qualify someone to provide deep insights into any culture or society. And I say this because I have lived and worked overseas for much of my professional career.

Of course, not all travel writers need to be like Donald Richie or Will Ferguson and not all travelogues need to on the same caliber as "The Inland Sea" or "Hokkaido Highway Blues" - two of my favorites about Japan, but for very different reasons. But I really find it quite boring to read yet again about someone's amazing discovery of Japanese vending machines.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Didn't he know he was supposed to swallow the "carp"? I'd have told him so...

3 ( +5 / -2 )

Ha, troll a book by the cover, much? I'm half way done, and its pretty much the opposite of what jcapan and TorafusuTorasan comment's suggest. It's free I think, so...maybe try reading it?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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