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TraveLit--A blog about travel literature. 

     Even with the best of maps and instruments, we can never fully chart our journeys.

Book Review

On the Narrow Road: Journey into a Lost Japan
By Lesley Downer
Summit Books, 1989, 280 pp.

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 book studied and loved throughout Japan.

Basho’s purpose, Downer says, was poetic: he wanted to visit places that had inspired poets in the past. His journey was also “a pilgrimage to the places associated with Yoshitsune, the greatest and most loved of Japanese heroes.” Traveling nearly 300 years later, Downer’s own aims were to see if the old “wild” north—said to have disappeared—could still be found, and also to get close to Basho himself. Read More 

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Travel Quotation

“But we are all travelers in what John Bunyan calls the wilderness of this world.”
―Robert Louis Stevenson, Travels With a Donkey in the Cevennes

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