Kihoku, Kagoshima โ†’ Lake Miike, Miyazaki

Map of southern Kyushu with authorโ€™s route from Kihoku, Kagoshima to Lake Miike, Miyazaki highlighted. ๐Ÿ—บ Open map in GaiaGPS โ†’

A single orange hangs from the end of a narrow branch.

An orange tree with a lot of fruit in front of a dense grove of cedars.

A tractor with a forklift labelled Big Unit stands by the side of the road.

A horse with its head disappearing into a white barn. ๐Ÿ“ Fukuyama, Kirishima, Kagoshima

A lunch of sashimi, pink rice balls, and assorted snacks laid on the asphalt in plastic trays. ๐Ÿ“ Fukuyama, Kirishima, Kagoshima

A splendid roadside lunch in shades of pink, eaten off the asphalt with chopsticks made of Yakushima cedar. I may be a bum, but I am a posh bum. For the next two and a half days, over a distance of some 100 kilometers, I would see no other store or restaurant, and my meals became simple affairs of crackers and coffee.

A plastic Kentucky Fried Chicken bucket on a grave.

A Japanese house in a forest at the edge of a narrow road.

A cat walks by a pink field in front of a cedar forest. ๐Ÿ“ Fukuyama, Kirishima, Kagoshima

A large ginkgo tree in front of a rural train station. ๐Ÿ“ท Photo taken on December 9, 2015

Kids waving by a campfire on the opposite bank of a stream with steep black rock walls.

A volcano, Takachino-no-mine, on the horizon behind a number of polytunnels. ๐Ÿ“ Takarabe, Soo, Kagoshima

Thereโ€™s a majestic ginkgo tree at ลŒsumi-ลŒkawara Station, where I once slept on the evening of a late autumn day. Now, on a spring afternoon, I lay under its glowing green leaves for half an hour, drained and alone, then walked into the ลŒkawara Gorge, where kids lit fires and hollered like the wild things they were, then I walked over a pass, along a tea field tucked into the forest, and the magnificent red and grey cone of Takachiho-no-mine rose a thousand meters above the forest into the evening sky.

A closer view of the volcano Takachino-no-mine across some fields in the evening light. ๐Ÿ“ Takano, Miyakonojล, Miyazaki

The silhouette of the volcano against a star-studded night sky, across a lake.

The trunk of a large fallen tree lit by a torch at night. ๐Ÿ“ Lake Miike, Miyazaki

In the gathering darkness I walked up the lower slopes of Kirishima, into a forest so quiet my grandmother remarked on the phone that she could hear me just as clearly as if I were in her sitting room, and when I shone my torch into the woods I realized I was followed by dozens of fluorescent green eyes, sika deer turned into forest spirits, watching a stranger in a land less strange by the day. On the opposite shore of Lake Miike, Takachiho-no-mine rose like a castle into the sky, and I picked my way around the lake through huge trees uprootes by this cold and wet spring.

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.