Kaimon, Kagoshima β†’ πŸŒ‹ Mount Kaimon β†’ Yamakawa, Kagoshima

Map of Kagoshima Prefecture with author’s route between Kaimon and Yamakawa highlighted. πŸ—Ί Open map in GaiaGPS β†’

A rocky path in a gloomy, foggy forest.

Moss growing on a branch.

A foggy, subtropical forest, with water dripping from everywhere.

The view down on the sea and a largely flat landscape. πŸ“ Mount Kaimon, Kagoshima

Offerings of shōchū to the volcano god at the summit shrine of Mount Kaimon.

A wider view of the same shrine shows the surrounding jungle in the fog. πŸ“ Mount Kaimon, Kagoshima

Offerings of shōchū to the volcano god at the summit shrine of Mount Kaimon.

Mount Kaimon reflected in a traffic mirror.

Mount Kaimon stands behind an abandoned house.

The wooded slopes of Mount Kaimon as seen from a distance.

A map of Kyushu laid out on a coffee table, with some pens, envelopes, a cake, and a cup of coffee. πŸ“ Kawashiri, Kagoshima

I have walked up the spiral path of Mount Kaimon in every season bar winter now, and I always leave with great reluctance, stealing parting glances in traffic mirrors and across fields of cabbage and above village houses melting into the subtropical countryside. It may be a small mountain but it is a mountain of absolute geometric perfection. If geology weren’t a random arrangement of rocks and bodies of water but a sentient force with an aesthetic sense, the volcano would surely be the southernmost point of the Japanese mainland. It isn’t, so I walk on.

Mount Kaimon seen from across some fields. πŸ“ Cape Nagasakibana, Kagoshima

Steam rises from the sand on a seashore.

Sweet potatoes and onions being steamed in a wooden crate at a hot spring.

Eggs being steamed in a similar crate.

Children pose in front of a small geyser of hot water.

Angry, sputtering hot water in a pool, with the sea visible behind it. πŸ“ Yamakawa, Kagoshima

On the beaches beyond Mount Kaimon, towards the bay, thermal water seeps up from beneath the black volcanic sand, and at some of the onsen they will bury you in the hot sand. The same hot springs are used to steam eggs and sweet potatoes, intended as an after-onsen snack, but throw enough coins into the box and they will make for a delicious and simple seaside dinner, too.

Mount Kaimon visible in the distance through clouds of hissing steam. πŸ“ Yamakawa, Kagoshima

These Walking Dreams is a visual field diary of a 4,300-kilometer walk from one end of Japan to the other, in the spring and summer of 2017.