Kakutō, Miyazaki → 📍 Kakutō Pass → Hitoyoshi, Kumamoto

Map of Central Kyushu with author’s route from Kakutō, Miyazaki to Hitoyoshi, Kumamoto highlighted. 🗺 Open map in GaiaGPS →

A small red land crab on a wet patch of asphalt.

Looking out on the parking lot of a convenience store on a rainy day.

A bowl of half-eaten ramen on the counter of a restaurant, with a man writing a note on a pad behind it. 📍 Kakutō, Miyazaki

Ramen,” the proprietor of the ramen restaurant of Kakutō said as he gave me my bowl of ramen, is the Japanese soul food.” After traversing the Kirishima Mountains the day before on two cans of coffee, a handful of peanuts, and a piece of pistachio gianduja, I sucked up the thick broth like a sponge.

So, you’re going to Hitoyoshi?” he asked. I was. It’s six hours away on foot, across the Loop Bridge. There are great onsen.”

Closeup of the note taken by the proprietor of the restaurant, showing the way across the mountain pass ahead.

Might he have a favorite? Go to Iwai. It’s between the train station and the cherry trees.” He drew me a map. I finished my ramen, walked into the rain, and didn’t see another soul for six hours.

A rusty, abandoned car submerged in the wet undergrowth.

Bright orange fungi growing on a tree trunk.

A path in a forest covered with brown leaves left over from autumn.

A very old prefectural sign between Miyazaki and Kumamoto. 📍 Kakutō Pass, Miyazaki|Kumamoto

Several high roads criss-cross above wet, forested hills.

The roads form a spiral which looms above a colorful subtropical forest. 📍 Hitoyoshi Loop Bridge, Kumamoto

Like a soaring dream of civil engineering, the Hitoyoshi Loop Bridge floats above the cold and wet forest in the mountains between Ebino, the administrative name for Kakutō and the surrounding villages, and the Hitoyoshi Basin. The road from Hitoyoshi turns across the narrow and steep valley, then rises into the air to loop around itself for the climb towards Ebino, where I came from on empty forest paths. The bridge was the first time in a week that my path crossed Alan Booth’s roads to Cape Sata from 1977. I retrace his steps in spirit, not on the map.

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.