UNBEATEN TRACKS IN JAPAN: An Account of Travels in the Interior Including Visits to the Aborigines of Yezo and the Shrines of Nikko, by Isabella L. Bird. New York: ICG Muse, 2000, 1,700 yen, 342 pp. (paper)

“Unbeaten Tracks in Japan” documents the journeys of Isabella Bird, an extraordinary woman for her time, who at various stages of her life visited America, Hawaii, Japan, Malay, Tibet, Korea, China, Turkey and Morocco. In 1878, at the age of 47, she set out from her native England to explore Japan — a country only recently opened up to the outside world — and did so with apparent confidence and ease. Moreover, she did not set out to visit just the well-known cities of Japan or other easily accessible areas; she deliberately embarked, as the title of her book suggests, off the beaten track — to the northeastern district and Hokkaido.

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