Japan - 6,000 miles on a bicycle

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9781933606149: Japan - 6,000 miles on a bicycle
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This book is not about cycling, but it is. It's not about Japan, but it is. It's not about sightseeing, but it is. In short, this book is about six months of someone's life -- a journey. As with all journeys, it begins with uncertainty and ends in reward. It may inspire you. If it does nothing more, this adventure will have achieved more than I ever imagined.

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In May 2005, Leigh Norrie left his house and went on a bike ride... to the rest of Japan. After a lonely and grueling six months, he'd pedaled 10,000 kilometers through every prefecture, all 41, north to south. On the way he kept a diary of his remarkable odyssey, now published as his first book, Japan 6,000 Miles on a Bicycle; and dedicated the proceeds to his chosen charity: the Chi-ki Children s Foundation. Norrie s mesmeric account of the people and places he encounters uses two classic themes: the diary and the road trip. Unlike many modern travel memoirs there are no tales of gunfights, car-chases, life-or-death poker games, or elicit encounters. His book is more reminiscent of Steinbeck's adorable Travels with Charley, with everyday folk as the cast, and customariness fused with Japan s singular idiosyncrasies making for an exceptionally enticing script. Never snobby, often judgmental, but always frank, Norrie peppers Japan with a brutal insight that meanders between outrage and kindness. Not since Alan Boothe s Roads To Saga has Japan been scoured with such objectivity, anger and affection. Diaries have made a comeback of late, yet their value has always been priceless. The pivotal events of mid-1600s London were encapsulated in the jottings of one man: Samuel Pepys. Reading Che Guevara s last diary, you scream at the annals of history, Get rid of those amateurs! And studying the French Revolution would be oh-so-boring without Restif De La Bretonne s reports on Paris after dark. About 400 years from now and Norrie s writings will most certainly evoke a kaleidoscope of reaction and retort. The keen observations of a peripatetic gaijin, part L Ingenu, part veteran, is a message in a bottle floating toward the historians of the future. Read it, write what you will, and bury your copy. Norrie also unintentionally takes his passengers, the reader, on the journey eventually pedaling with him, you can t help but egg him on, hoping he can tough it out to Naha. While the book highlights the paradoxes inherent in Nippon, its everyday nature leaves you with another you feel closer than ever to the Japanese, but equally just as alienated, just as exasperated, depressingly unable to unlock what makes this place tick and what with the puncture just before the finish line, you, like Norrie are always so close, but yet so very, very far... TFM caught up with the cyclist, writer, poet, Welshman, fundraiser and role model, in his location of choice a grotty British pub. Norrie cuts a great protagonist with his Revolver haircut, tweed jacket and smoldering bine. He could have just walked off any number of film sets: young college professor, some Beatnik from the Village, the counter-revolutionary about to plunge off the Left Bank. Is this arty type really the heroic man of steel who risked life and limb and endured six months of gluteal anguish to raise money for Laotian orphans? Can I just check your gaijin card to make sure you are in fact the real Leigh Norrie? (Confusion... Followed by wallet... Back to confusion) Usually only people under orders of Imperial edict go to the compass points and report back, so where did the idea come from? Drinking with the musician, Bob Arnold. He brought up Alan Booth s walk from Hokkaido to Saga in Kyushu. My heart started pounding I had to do it. From then, it evolved into two wheels and more mileage. Have never liked walking, or camping... or cycling... but always adventure. What is your connection to Chi-ki? I've known Sylvia since 2001. I always admired what she did in 2003: threw herself into the unknown for a few weeks and returned with 3,000 kids to look after. That takes a lot of guts. Here are children who have the absolute bare minimum, and get on with life the best they can. We truly are blessed. .............. --Tokyo Families Magazine, June 2008

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