Up Among the Roadside Gods:Touring the earth on which paths cross

Touring the earth on which paths cross

William Least Heat Moon is the author of Blue Highways (Atlantic-Little, Brown), a presentation of a journey on the back roads of America. TIME asked him to describe a brief journey to the back country of Japan.

We had come out of Tokyo, Tadashi and I, come out of the chaos of bodies and things; come out northward by the bullet train, which gave 100-m.p.h. passage through rice fields hard by small industries and then up through mountain valleys. We had left a city of rooftop birds—pigeons, crows,...

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