These Walking Dreams: Day 21 (May 3, 2017)

Taketa, Ōita → Kamitsutsumi, Ōita

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


View of Taketa, Ōita. Photo: Peter Orosz

Railway bridge in Taketa, Ōita. Photo: Peter Orosz

Woman on scooter in Taketa, Ōita. Photo: Peter Orosz

Ceremonial foxes in Taketa, Ōita. Photo: Peter Orosz

Touring bicycle in Taketa, Ōita. Photo: Peter Orosz

Basalt heads in Taketa, Ōita. Photo: Peter Orosz

Statue of dancing boy and girl in Taketa, Ōita. Photo: Peter Orosz 📍 Taketa, Ōita


Pressed flowers in Yasumatsu Yuko‘s shop in Taketa, Ōita. Photo: Peter Orosz

Yasumatsu Yuko in her shop in Taketa, Ōita. Photo: Peter Orosz

Yasumatsu Yuko in front of her shop in Taketa, Ōita. Photo: Peter Orosz

The author with candy in his hand in Taketa, Ōita. Photo: Peter Orosz 📍 Taketa, Ōita

In the black basalt town of Taketa, a place of streams, tunnels, toy trains, old bridges, and excellent fried chicken, Yasumatsu Yuko presses flowers she grows outside her shop. They come in every color, real or make-believe, and they also come with a handful of tea-flavored candy for the road when they’re arranged for the mother of a European vagabond.


Abandoned house beyond Taketa, Ōita. Photo: Peter Orosz

Land crab beyond Taketa, Ōita. Photo: Peter Orosz 📍 Taketa, Ōita

I first noticed these small land crabs two years ago, on the lower slopes of the Kirishima Mountains, but they’re all over the back roads of Kyushu. A few hundred meters above sea level, between rice fields hours from the ocean, or in chilly mountain forests, they make for some peculiar roadkill, which many of them become. This one though, minding its own business on a country road in Ōita until I picked it up, was very much alive.


Buddhist shrine at Nagayu Hot Spring, Ōita. Photo: Peter Orosz

Mineral buildup at Nagayu Hot Spring, Ōita. Photo: Peter Orosz 📍 Nagayu Hot Spring, Ōita

It’s very expensive, you will have to wait, and it closes at seven,” the woman said when I asked about the hot spring, which had left a tall mound of mineral deposit outside the building. It was 6:50. But don’t worry about it. It’s my house.”

She lived in a beautiful house in the hot spring village of Nagayu, new, but built with traditional methods, with her sculptor husband and their two daughters, impossibly named Momoko (🍑) and Sakurako (🌸). Very Japanese names,” she said, and I gave them dried Iranian mulberries.

And when I could go in at last, I found an onsen for one, a private room with a single tub, sweet alkaline mineral water constantly filling it from a spring in their back yard, and I watched the rain from the window, and later, after she had given me a packed dinner and her daughters had waved goodbye in their pyjamas, I walked into the night.

Next → Day 22, May 4

Prev. ← Day 20, May 2


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.