EXCURSIONS IN IDENTITY: Travel and the Intersection of Place, Gender and Status in Edo Japan, by Laura Nenzi. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2008, 267 pp., illustrations IX, $57 (cloth)

During Japan's Edo Period (1603-1867), Dr. Laura Nenzi tells us, "physical mobility (traveling along horizontal lines) was tightly regulated and social mobility (traveling along vertical lines) . . . was not always a viable option."

This was because "parameters based on status and gender permeated every facet of one person's life, and to a certain extent travel was no exception." Officials meddled with every major move, and actual checkpoint barriers periodically closed the major roads.

However, what became known as recreational travel changed all this, and altered some of these parameters. By the 19th century, travel had already become a part of consumerism and though religious pilgrimages were often the excuse for travel, the new mantra, suggests the author, was "I buy, therefore I am."