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Great Travel Writing for Fans of Abroad in Japan

Posted on 3rd June 2024 by Mark Skinner

If you've devoured the mega-selling Abroad in Japan by Chris Broad and are eager for more titles on a similar theme, then look no further. From misadventures in rural France to life-affirming walks through the British Isles, discover more fantastic travel writing here.  

Since Chris Broad started producing online content about his life in Japan in 2012, his informative and hilarious Youtube videos have become something of a phenomenon. The book accompanying the Youtube channel Abroad in Japan currently holds the record as our most successful ever Non-Fiction Book of the Month and, as we head into summer, its popularity shows no sign of slowing down. 

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From missile incidents to love hotels, Broad's hilarious and insightful travelogue of Japan is based on his numerous misadventures in the decade since he arrived to teach English.
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So if you've already discovered the addictive joys of Abroad in Japan, we're here to suggest some more brilliantly engaging travel writing that we just know you're going to love. First off, for those readers hooked by the vivid descriptions of life in the Land of the Rising Sun, why not check out Will Ferguson's giddy hitchhiking adventure from one end of Japan to the other and Peter Carey's characteristically insightful journey into the the heart of manga with his comics-obsessed son.

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Will Ferguson’s singular odyssey to chase cherry blossom from one end of Japan to the other is a charming and revealing travelogue, rich in humour and unexpected insight.
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A warmly affectionate examination of a nation’s history through the cartoon image and speech bubble, Wrong About Japan traces Peter Carey and his Manga obsessed son's odyssey around Japan in an effort to reconcile their respective feelings about the influential art form.
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From enduring crumbling farmhouses to dodging speeding Vespas, the literary trope of the Englishperson Abroad has fuelled many a classic work of travel writing, from Peter Mayle's iconic A Year in Provence to the impossibly charming Driving Over Lemons by Chris Stewart. Tim Parks, meanwhile, gives a more nuanced account of the ex-pat lifestyle in his hugely entertaining Italian Neighbours.

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One of the most successful travel books of all time, Mayle's charming and witty account of how he lived out his dream of the French rural idyll continues to delight fresh generations of readers.
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Sun-kissed, side-splitting and shamelessly feel-good, Stewart's seminal account of maintaining a run-down Andalucian mountain farm makes for the perfect holiday read.
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Smart, perceptive and endlessly fascinating, Parks' reflections on his time as an Englishman in Verona reveal an eternal love-hate relationship with his new home.
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But you don't have to uproot your life and move to an entirely new country to produce a work of exhilarating travel writing; just a suitably off-the-beaten track vacation will do. Dom Joly consciously decided to go as esoteric as possible in his jaw-dropping litany of horrendous holidays The Dark Tourist, whilst Emma Kennedy's side-splitting chronicle of a truly disastrous American road trip in the 1980s is a sheer joy from first page to last. A change of pace for Rory Stewart's astounding The Places in Between as guffaws are exchanged for sharp intakes of breath, with the former Tory MP and diplomat undertaking a nerve-jangling two-year trek across north-central Afghanistan.

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From a weekend in Chernobyl to a tour of US assassination sites, Joly's gleefully grim slice of travel writing is the ideal corrective to all sanitised tourist-friendly experiences.
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Ranging from black magic to incontinent dogs, Kennedy regales readers with an utterly hilarious account of her late-80s misadventures in the United States.
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Stewart’s hazardous trek across Afghanistan in 2002 is lyrically rendered in this evocative and moving book which blends the boundaries between politics and travel writing.
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Closer to home there is a rich vein of travel writing that explores the UK and Ireland, either with a wry, self-deprecating wit or an inspiring tribute to an incredible landscape. It took the keen outsider's eye of an American to produce probably the most famous of all travel books about Britain - Bill Bryson's Notes from a Small Island - though the works of Stuart Maconie stand shoulder to shoulder with him in insight and humour. Elsewhere, Raynor Winn's bestselling The Salt Path hymns both landscape and love in its record of walking the South West Coast Path and Tony Hawks defines the drunken-bet-travelogue for the ages in Round Ireland with a Fridge.

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One of the quintessential pieces of British travel writing, Bryson’s wry, perceptive observations on his adoptive country provoke both guffaws of hilarity and winces of recognition – often within the same sentence.
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The popular broadcaster and author of Cider with Roadies and Pies and Prejudice delivers a thoughtful and characteristically entertaining travelogue on the state of modern England, as he journeys in the footsteps of J.B. Priestley.
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For Raynor Winn and her husband Moth, the cruellest of diagnoses and the simultaneous collapse of their business opens an unexpected door to salvation through a journey which over its length transforms into a sweeping narrative of inner courage and nature’s ability to heal.
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The progenitor of the drunken-bet-travelogue-adventure is still the funniest and most charming of them all, as the popular comedian makes his hilarious way around the Emerald Isle getting into all manner of scrapes with his trusty kitchen appliance.
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We conclude with a couple of globe-spanning gems which provide a delightful window onto a wide variety of countries and their cultures. Michael Palin's celebrated Around the World in Eighty Days famously took inspiration from Phileas Fogg's fictional journey, whilst Monisha Rajesh embarked on a thrilling odyssey on the rails, on a 45,000 mile train adventure.

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The book that launched Michael Palin's second career as a professional traveller, Around the World in Eighty Days is a wonderfully evocative global adventure powered by the ex-Python's natural wit, empathy and bonhomie.
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A gloriously entertaining travelogue spanning the concourse at Kings Cross to the sky-scraping peaks of Tibet’s Qinghai railway, Around the World in 80 Trains is a warm and witty hymn to locomotive travel.
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