Tsuruga, Fukui โ†’ Echizen, Fukui

Map of Fukui Prefecture with authorโ€™s route between Tsuruga and Echizen highlighted. ๐Ÿ—บ Open map in GaiaGPS โ†’

A white SUV drives on a road which runs across a cement factory.

Big machines over the same road across the cement factory.

Statue of a spaceship from the anime Uchลซ Senkan Yamato. ๐Ÿ“ Tsuruga, Fukui

I came out of the dark mountain pass into the snow country. But there was no snow now, and cement dust hung in the sultry air the next morning. The Japanese love concrete even more than the Communists do, and the industrial zone of Tsuruga is where some of it comes from. I devoured a magnificent plate of sashimi, strolled past the cool cyberpunk statues of the downtown shopping area, and walked to the sea.

Three small Buddhist statues, wearing red aprons, stand on the shore of the Sea of Japan.

An issue of a manga comic lies on the ground, it is about a contemporary representation of the Buddha.

A Buddhist statue wearing a pink apron with a Hello Kitty pattern stands against a blue wall. ๐Ÿ“ Tsuruga, Fukui

You do wonder what would have become of the Buddhas of Bamiyan if the Taliban had been Japanese students of Christo and Jeanne-Claude instead of illiterate Pashtun villagers with anti-aircraft guns, donโ€™t you?

Old wooden houses clustered on a village street.

A dilapidated cafรฉ with village houses and forested hills behind it.

The rear of a white Toyota GT86 parked by a shed.

An old woman pushes a wheeled walker in front of an abandoned building marked โ€œEchizen Grand Hotelโ€. ๐Ÿ“ Tsuruga, Fukui

For most of the day, Route 8 was unavoidable, and I walked a tight line between the trucks and the cliffs dropping into the sea. When I could, I detoured into the villages in the shadow of the road, a bombed-out wasteland of storm-battered buildings melting into the ground, empty restaurants, crumbling hotels, abandoned cars. At Kลno, I looked out over the flat, grey sea for the last time, then turned inland, towards the mountains.

Looking out over the sea from a hillside. ๐Ÿ“ Koฬ„no Roadside Station, Fukui

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.