These Walking Dreams: Day 16 (April 28, 2017)

Taragi, Kumamoto β†’ Shiiba, Miyazaki

Map of Kyushu with the route of These Walking Dreams highlighted. Maps Β© Thunderforest, Data Β© OpenStreetMap πŸ—Ί Open map in GaiaGPS ⇝


Superman mug on a grave at the Ichifusa Dam Lake, Kumamoto. Photo: Peter Orosz

Beer vending machine at the Ichifusa Dam Lake, Kumamoto. Photo: Peter Orosz

View of Mount Ichifusa from the Ichifusa Dam Lake, Kumamoto. Photo: Peter Orosz

Tiger keelback at the Ichifusa Dam Lake, Kumamoto. Photo: Peter Orosz 🐍 Tiger keelback (Rhabdophis tigrinus)

Mountain cherry at the Ichifusa Dam Lake, Kumamoto. Photo: Peter Orosz

Maple tree against the sky at the Ichifusa Dam Lake, Kumamoto. Photo: Peter Orosz πŸ“ Ichifusa Dam Lake, Kumamoto


Gate of Shiramizuaso Shrine, Eshiro, Kumamoto. Photo: Peter Orosz

Snake fountain at Shiramizuaso Shrine, Eshiro, Kumamoto. Photo: Peter Orosz

Snake scrolls at Shiramizuaso Shrine, Eshiro, Kumamoto. Photo: Peter Orosz

Interlinked ceders at Shiramizuaso Shrine, Eshiro, Kumamoto. Photo: Peter Orosz πŸ“ Shiramizuaso Shrine, Eshiro, Kumamoto

Deep in the Kyushu Mountains, a sea of low peaks which cuts the island of Kyushu in two, is Shiramizuaso Shrine, which looks like a movie set designed by a teenager given the task of coming up with a syncretism of Shinto and Yezidism. There are snakes on the shrine gate, you wash your hands in a snake fountain, and inside the shrine, which is guarded by two enormous cedars, are scrolls with yet more snakes.


Stacks of firewood in a house in Eshiro, Kumamoto. Photo: Peter Orosz

Dilapidated house in Eshiro, Kumamoto. Photo: Peter Orosz πŸ“ Eshiro, Kumamoto


Japanese striped snake on the road in Eshiro, Kumamoto. Photo: Peter Orosz

Japanese striped snake on the road in Eshiro, Kumamoto. Photo: Peter Orosz πŸ“ Eshiro, Kumamoto

Then again a snake shrine makes perfect sense in these mountains whose forests are home to quite a few actual snakes, like this Japanese striped snake (Elaphe quadrivirgata) I almost stumbled over on my way to a high pass, where I crossed from Kumamoto back into Miyazaki. Perfectly camouflaged against the carpet of cedar leaves which lined the road’s edges, it froze, then slid into the gathering twilight.


View of the mountains in Shiiba, Miyazaki. Photo: Peter Orosz

Night sky in Shiiba, Miyazaki. Photo: Peter Orosz πŸ“ Shiiba, Miyazaki

A mountain sky, like the lights of a city turned upside down. In my sleeping bag on the wooden porch of a house, I woke up in the small hours of the night, shivering uncontrollably. The sky had shifted by then, and I stood under the cold and stunning light of the Milky Way, putting on every piece of clothing I could find, my fingers numb from the cold, in the perfect silence of this mountain world.

Next β†’ Day 17, April 29

Prev. ← Day 15, April 27


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.