A food as rich as tonkotsu ramen, a sweet and salty plasma of bone marrow and fat, can only exist on these warm and fertile plains. It is a world apart from the sparse and crisp mountain fare of roots, mushrooms and trout—or crackers, cup noodles, and canned fish. One could walk to the end of the world on a bowl. The air was sweet and salty, girls in summer dresses rode bicycles in the subtropical sun, and I followed them to the end of Kyushu.
Two weeks after I had last glimpsed the Pacific across damp fields, I turned a corner and saw the sea again, and I ran out of Kyushu. It had taken less time than a package holiday to Japan, and I had seen nothing, but I still felt like I was about to leave home, a magical island of volcanoes, snakes, kind people, sweet-smelling sawmills, capricious weather, trees like gods, the night sky the eyes of deer in the woods, and I dreamed of living here on oranges and sunshine, like a Californian. Across the Hōyo Strait, I could see the hills of Shikoku.
The Inland Sea glowed like a golden fleece as the Yūnagi chugged across the Hōyo Strait, the narrow gap between Kyushu and Shikoku. It was the end of the holiday week, and I shared the boat with a hundred schoolchildren, raucous and manic in the fierce wind. We slurped cup noodles in unison, the dark spine of the Sadamisaki Peninsula growing on the horizon, then darkness fell and I walked off the boat, my walking stick clanging on the ramp.
Prev. ← Day 22, May 4
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.