Kameoka, Kyōto → 📍 Jinmyō Pass🏙 Kyōto → Otsu, Shiga

Map of the Kyōto area with author’s route between Kameoka, Kyōto and Otsu, Shiga highlighted. 🗺 Open map in GaiaGPS →

A forest road passes a small stream on a sunny day. 📍 Jinmyō Pass, Kyōto

On a rapidly flowing river at the bottom of a narrow, forested gorge, a boat passes under a bridge which doubles as a train station. 📍 Hozukyō Station, Kyōto

Two moss-covered stone statues of heads, one with bulging eyes and its tongue sticking out. 📍 Otagi Nenbutsu Temple, Arashiyama, Kyōto

A silver Ferrari 456 in a garage. 📍 Ukyō Ward, Kyōto

In a country where the overwhelming majority of cars on the road are locally made, the streets of Kyōto are instantly recognizable for the sheer number of German saloons. And this: a Ferrari 456, a relic from the days when Ferraris weren’t explicitly designed for the nouveau riche. In its silent immodesty, it is perhaps the ultimate Kyōto car.

A concrete storm drain shaped like an angry robot face. 📍 Kamigyō Ward, Kyōto

Pink clouds in the sky above two pines and many power lines.

Two people play badminton in the garden of a Japanese shrine. 📍 Kitano Tenmangū Shrine, Kamigyō Ward, Kyōto

Persepolis burned because a 24-year-old Greek warrior-king had a point to make, and Kyōto didn’t burn because a 78-year-old American diplomat-statesman had it crossed off the list of cities to be nuked, which it had headed. And so I walked not in the ashes of the abandoned campfire that Little Boy would have left, but down alleys still lined with machiya houses instead of prefabricated condominiums, past shrines of wood and gold where people played badminton in the radiant pink dusk, and into a bathhouse whose floral tiles recalled the doorways of Shiraz. A dreamland of old Japan, not the thousand-year capital anymore, but not a radioactive desert either, and I walked into the silent mountains of Shiga Prefecture.

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.