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Alan Booth, a writer rarely given to dispensing easy compliments, could be a dyspeptic traveler when destinations did not live up to his expectations.

After a long walk through the mountains of Gifu Prefecture, the riverine settlement of Gujo-Hachiman raised his spirits and added a spring to his step. It was, in his own words, from his book “The Roads to Sata,” “a town of a kind I’d dreamed of finding when I’d first arrived in Japan almost 20 years before, a town so extraordinary that, when I went out to stroll around it that evening, I almost forgot to limp.”

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