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Alan Booth (1946-1993) was a well-known English travel writer, who wrote two insightful books on his journeys by foot through the Japanese countryside. The better-known of the two, The Roads to Sata (published in 1985) is about his travels (in 1977) from the northernmost cape in Hokkaidō (Cape Soya) to the southern tip of Kyūshū in Cape Sata. His second book, Looking for the Lost, was published posthumously in 1995.
Booth was born in London and studied drama at Leyton County High School for Boys. Later, he was enrolled at University of Birmingham. Previously, he had acted and directed for the National Youth Theatre and was a prominent member of the University of Birmingham's Guild Theatre Group (GTG) in the late 60's. Among the plays he directed at Birmingham University were Hamlet (First Quarto), done in Noh style, and his own translation of Racine's Phèdre, set in a Samurai milieu. He also directed an open-air production of Marlowe's Faustus (The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus) in Birmingham's Cannon Hill Park. While a student at Birmingham he won the Birmingham Post's Annual Poetry Prize, and was a regular contributor to the Birmingham University students' poetry magazine, Mermaid.
In 1970, he moved to Japan to study Noh theatre but soon began writing. Over the next two decades, he lived in Tokyo and worked for the Macmillan Press and as a movie reviewer for the Asahi Evening News. He also starred in the BBC Learning Zone programme "Japanese Language and People", episode 6 titled "On the Road", where he was interviewed about many different aspects of life in Japan.
Booth's writing style is marked by a smart, subtle humour, with which he observes his surroundings, himself, and the people he meets. The accounts of his travels are frequently interwoven with personal anecdotes, historical facts, and cultural background information.
Alan Booth died of colon cancer in 1993, leaving behind his wife and daughter.
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