I got Lesley Downer's book, On The Narrow Road To The Deep North: Journey Into A Lost Japan (1989) as background reading for a trip to the Tohoku region (this time Sendai and surrounding areas-Yamadera and Matsushima). I also read Matsuo Basho's book The Narrow Roads to the Deep North and Other Travel Sketches knowing that Downer would refer to them in her travels. And I am glad that I did, she relied on that book and the diaries of his companion Kawai Sora's diary in which he noted the weather, price of accommodations and other mundane facts of the journey-I learned that Basho only highlighted the more memorable stops and occasions embroidered with poetry. Her journey was undertaken in 1985, so it was rare for foreigners to be undertaking the journey she did, however, unlike Alan Booth who walked all of Japan and wrote about it, she walked, hitchhiked, and took trains to complete the journey and hers was following the route of Japan's most famous poet. And perhaps this trip inspired Booth's later travels in which he followed Osamu Dazai's travels in Tsurugu, Saigo Takamori's retreat, and the searched for the final home of the defeated Heike clan. Downer's book is rich in detail about her encounters with local people and the history of the region in regards to the famous and historical figures who spent time in this region. Unlike Booth's book, she is less forthcoming about herself-sometimes she gets exasperated with people she meets, but she is less humorous and forthcoming about her travels. I understand that she was looking for the world that Basho encountered, but I still don't have a strong feeling of what it was about the journey that inspired her. Unlike Booth, who has a great love for Tohoku, where he initially lived when he came to Japan, Downer had lived further south in the mountains of Gifu, before returning to Japan. That being said I enjoyed having Downer around as I visited some of the places (Yamadera, Sendai, and Matsushima) that she did retracing Basho's footsteps. I intend on coming back and seeing more of Tohoku and I might even re-visit this book when I do.