These Walking Dreams: Day 20 (May 2, 2017)

Takachiho, Miyazaki → ⛰ Mount Sobo → Taketa, Ōita

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


Great Upper Iwato Bridge in Takachiho, Miyazaki. Photo: Peter Orosz

Buddhist statue in Takachiho, Miyazaki. Photo: Peter Orosz 📍 Great Upper Iwato Bridge, Miyazaki


Fly fishherman at Jōkōji Falls, Miyazaki. Photo: Peter Orosz

Fly fishherman at Jōkōji Falls, Miyazaki. Photo: Peter Orosz 📍 Jōkōji Falls, Miyazaki

There are probably worse ways to start the day than to tenkara fish the cold waters of Jōkōji Falls, on the southern approach to Mount Sobo. During a break, he opened an ice box in his truck and showed me the previous day’s catch: eight beautiful mountain trout, gutted and frozen in a plastic bag.


Akebono azalea on the Miyazaki side of Mount Sobo, Miyazaki. Photo: Peter Orosz

Akebono azalea on the Miyazaki side of Mount Sobo, Miyazaki. Photo: Peter Orosz

Akebono azalea on the Miyazaki side of Mount Sobo, Miyazaki. Photo: Peter Orosz

Akebono azalea on the Miyazaki side of Mount Sobo, Miyazaki. Photo: Peter Orosz 📍 Mount Sobo, Miyazaki

It’s barely spring on the high ridges of Mount Sobo, the forest grey and brown after a long winter, and then, between 1,100 and 1,300 meters above sea level, akebono azaleas bloom like an oversaturated dream, above a vast valley which opens to the east. They look like the fragile conclusion of centuries of horticultural tinkering but they aren’t: they’re as wild as the mountain. Further up the ridgeline, into ever cooler air, they disappear like the dream they are, giving way to bamboo grass and shrubs.


Trees on the Miyazaki side of Mount Sobo, Miyazaki. Photo: Peter Orosz

Trees on the Miyazaki side of Mount Sobo, Miyazaki. Photo: Peter Orosz

Trees on the Miyazaki side of Mount Sobo, Miyazaki. Photo: Peter Orosz

View of the Miyazaki side of Mount Sobo, Miyazaki. Photo: Peter Orosz

Ladder on the Miyazaki side of Mount Sobo, Miyazaki. Photo: Peter Orosz

Plants on the Miyazaki side of Mount Sobo, Miyazaki. Photo: Peter Orosz

Cliffs on the Miyazaki side of Mount Sobo, Miyazaki. Photo: Peter Orosz

Climbers on the Miyazaki side of Mount Sobo, Miyazaki. Photo: Peter Orosz 📍 Mount Sobo, Miyazaki


Buddhist statue on the Ōita side of Mount Sobo, Ōita. Photo: Peter Orosz

Buddhist statue on the Ōita side of Mount Sobo, Ōita. Photo: Peter Orosz 📍 Mount Sobo, Ōita

Closer to Shikoku, as the land gets more Buddhist by the step, statues start dotting the roads and the mountains. On the borderlands of Miyazaki and Ōita, they are dressed invariably as grandmothers, in red knit caps and jumpers. This one stood alone on a forlorn clearing below the summit of Mount Sobo, braving the harsh conditions at 1,600 meters above sea level, and all she needed was a warm cup of tea, which I did not have and could not give her.


Roots on a boulder on the Ōita side of Mount Sobo, Ōita. Photo: Peter Orosz

Mountain stream on the Ōita side of Mount Sobo, Ōita. Photo: Peter Orosz

Trees in bloom on the Ōita side of Mount Sobo, Ōita. Photo: Peter Orosz

Maple leaves on the Ōita side of Mount Sobo, Ōita. Photo: Peter Orosz

Azalea on the Ōita side of Mount Sobo, Ōita. Photo: Peter Orosz 📍 Mount Sobo, Ōita


Basalt-lined stream on the approach to Taketa, Ōita. Photo: Peter Orosz 📍 Taketa, Ōita

Next → Day 21, May 3

Prev. ← Day 19, May 1


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.