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There's not all that much travel narrative in audio format, and I'm a bit picky, so thought this one seemed promising -- it was.
If you're looking for comedic asides, a la Bill Bryson, this ain't that. Closer to Theroux, although Wilson knows the area, rather than observing as a detached stranger; indeed, some of the folks he runs across he considers friends, even if he has not had any contact with the person recently. In a nutshell, the story contains observation of the scenes along the route, including what has changed since he was there long ago, as well as historical background, often going back centuries, along with reports of discussions with locals. Wilson succeeds in integrating all that quite well, although I did get a tad lost a couple of times with the history, which turned out to be no big deal.
Here's the one feature that folks have commented upon, which even I felt a bit "here we go again" by the end: we're given the detailed menu of almost everything he ate and drank. Such as ... "after my bath, I reported for dinner, where we were served broiled chicken in a soy glaze, thinly sliced eggplant strips in miso sauce, pickled radish and onion, our choice of white or brown rice, coffee cake, beer and green tea."
Brian Nishii does a terrific job with both the Japanese, and occasional Chinese, words. However, on a few occasions I wondered about his pronunciation of English ones, as though he were guessing (wrong). Those few times aside, he was a very good fit for the material.
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