I was talking to my cousin over the weekend and stories of travel came up. I recalled one book I read prior to my first trip to Japan. It was also recommended to me. The book, Hokkaido Highway Blues, was an interesting, funny and insightful book about the Japanese culture and psychology. If you're interested pick up the book at your local book store, or you can find it at Amazon. I can't find my copy but after the conversation I had I'm going to get another copy just so that I can read it again.
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