A RIDE IN THE NEON SUN: A Gaijin in Japan

First published in the UK in 1999 by Little Brown. Published in paperback by Warner Books. ISBN 0 7515 1755 0
Winner of the Japan Festival Award 2000.

It’s not easy landing unprepared in a country like Japan. The eccentricites of the calendar, the alien alphabet, language and culture have all to be confronted before the disorientated traveller can feel at ease. Trying to ride a bicycle through the streets of one of the most congested cities in the world would seem to compound your problems.

For Josie Dew, few things could be more challenging – or, for the reader of A Ride in the Neon Sun, more entertaining. From Kawasaki to Kagoshima, Odawara to Okinawa, Josie discovered a nation rich in dazzling contrasts. The neon and concrete were there as she imagined, but so too were bottomless baths, love bugers, Long-Tailed Cocks, musical toilet rolls, oriental Elvis’s, cardboard police, sex museums, Coranation Street addicts, and a sense of fun belying the population’s rigorous work ethic.

She found a stunningly mountainous land and a people who revealed extraordinary genorosity that had her cramming the cascades of gifts onto her bike (anything from teddy bear-shaped glass chopsticks stands to giant two-foot long radishes and copious pairs of Hello Kitty socks). Far from being the reserved race that she had heard about, the Japanese welcomed her into their homes with bountiful smiles and bows, and skin-scorching baths.

‘Her painstaking efforts pay off, enabling you to freewheel effortlessly through this riveting country’ Time Out
‘The perfect read for potential backpackers… detailed, insightful and often downright hilarious’ Sunday Tribune
‘A female Bill Bryson… A Ride in the Neon Sun is full of delights’ Times Literary Supplement

A taster of places visited in A RIDE IN THE NEON SUN:

Tokyo – loadsapeople, loadsacars, loadsamoney
Zushi – city, not fish
Fuji – where I passed mountain-walking dressing-gowned sextuplets
Shimizu – rainy season strikes
Atsumi – where I overdosed on melons
Nanto-Cho – where I was submerged with presents
Miyama-Cho – where I had 27 baths
Yuasa – birthplace of soy sauce
Wakayama – perky pekinese scooter-perched pooch prank!
Ikumi – whale toilet
Tosa – frozen towel man
Saga-Cho – Japanese Jesus
Saiki – site of Jools Holland cardboard cut-out and Italian Toamto Cakeshop
Miyasaki – Realips Realife
Cape Toi Misaki – Asia’s largest lighthouse and horse-head phone box
Anami-Oshima – semi-typhoon and poisonous snakes
Tokun-Oshima – where Tetsu caught me in his hearse
Yoron – slept in shower to avoid Typhoon Doug
Okinawa – site of pants garden and spotted first racing cyclist asleep in road
Miyako – home of seagrape seaweed and where I went to futon with Naomi
Ishigaki – where I was typhooned and marooned
Iriomote – capsized tortoise
Kyushu – where grave-digging granny buried my ‘female organ’ and where I ate semi-conscious eels with a fully conscious postman