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tani reviewed Unbeaten Tracks in Japan (Travelers' Tales Classic Series) on
From the inspirational foremother of women travelers comes this classic tale of journeying into the rugged interior of Japan. Traveling solo in 1878, a time when women did not travel alone, the courageous Isabella Bird undertakes the adventure of a lifetime...illuminating a side of Japan many have never known.
Fueled by a brave lust for real, unfiltered travel, welcoming hardship with a wise eye and gentle heart, Bird covers 600 miles of unknown territory. She visits aboriginal tribes, discovers rural 19th-century Japanese life, and reveals a fascinating early look at Eastern religions. Far from the sentimental cherry blossom world of Madame Butterfly, Bird's Japan is a vibrant land of real people with hardscrabble lives.
Amazingly, Bird, who did not know Japanese, decided to go on this adventure because her bad back and ill health had led her doctors to prescribe the "change of air" that was so often resorted to in Victorian times. What a change of air! The book consists of Bird's letters, but reads as a single story, written with keen insight and humor. I loved it.