🏙 Ōita City → Saganoseki, Ōita → ⛴ Hōyo Strait → Misaki, Ehime

Map of the sea between Kyushu and Shikoku with author’s route from Ōita City across the sea to Misaki, Ehime highlighted. 🗺 Open map1 in GaiaGPS (A,B,C) →

The white wheel of a red car which is lowered almost to the ground, a style called stanceworks.

A faded yellow Suzuki sign painted on the ground.

A bowl of white and yellow tonkotsu ramen on a red table, picking up the yellow of the Suzuki sign and the red of the car from the previous two pictures. 📍 Ōita City

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 girls in identical clothes sit on the beach and look out on the sea, which looks vast compared to how small they are. 📍 Kōzaki Beach, Ōita City

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.

A man with grey hair looks at a white ferry.

Motorcycles loaded with a lot of stuff wait to board the ferry.

A group of boys in baseball uniforms walk through the car deck of the ferry. 📍 Saganoseki Ferry Terminal, Ōita

Three boys on the deck of the ferry look at the setting sun, one of the taking a picture with his phone.

A group of girls on the same deck show V-signs into the camera, their hair tousled by what must be a very strong wind. 📍 Saganoseki → Misaki ferry, Hōyo Strait

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.

Looking at an island of jagged mountains across a grey, choppy sea from the ferry. 📍 Saganoseki → Misaki ferry, Hōyo Strait

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.

  1. This was the second of seven days when I didn’t walk every step of the way. For reasons explained elsewhere, I wanted to walk across Shikoku instead of Chūgoku (Western Honshu), and while it is possible to walk from Kyushu to Western Shikoku via the Kanmon Pedestrian Tunnel or the Shimanami Kaidō, I found taking the ferry across the Hōyo Strait much more in keeping with the overall aesthetics of my journey.↩︎