Many of us dream of taking a year out somewhere exotic, far away from the daily grind and familiarity of life at home.
Sam Baldwin found himself in this position when he became disillusioned with life as a ‘lab rat’ and decided to escape to Japan and embark on an adventure as an English teacher. The difference for Baldwin was that he didn’t see it as a year out – he saw this as a year in.
For Fukui’s Sake tells the story of two years spent in the rural Japanese town of Ono in Fukui Prefecture and, inspired title aside, the book is a charming and often hilarious recollection of an Englishmen’s adventures in the Land of the Rising Sun.
Baldwin expertly captures what it feels like to be a foreigner in a strange land and the book colourfully depicts the highs and lows of the adventure.
With a slant towards the wild places and wildlife of rural Japan, he shares tales of mountain climbs, seven-day snow storms, snake invasions and bear attacks, as well as his growing relationships with the locals he meets.
As he bids an emotional farewell to his class and says ‘sayonara’ to the locals he now counts as friends, it’s clear that Baldwin did indeed have his year (well, two actually) in.
For Fukui’s Sake will appeal to anyone with an interest in Japan and armchair travellers who’ve wondered what it’s like to climb Mount Fuji, visit a Japanese dentist or go fishing in a swimming pool. And those pining for an overseas adventure will only be swayed further towards taking the plunge.