These Walking Dreams: Day 62 (June 13, 2017)

Ogimachi, Shirakawa-gō, Gifu → 📍Amou Pass → Hida Furukawa, Gifu

Map of Gifu Prefecture with author’s route from Ogimachi to Hida Furukawa highlighted. 🗺 Open map in GaiaGPS ⇝


A group of large, thatch-roofed farmhouses.

Manhole cover showing a group of thatch-roofed houses.

A very old red Honda hatchback in a garage.

A group of large, thatch-roofed farmhouses with snow-covered mountains in the background.

A clear view of the thatch-roofed houses of Ogimachi, with the snow peaks of Hakusan in behind them.

Yellow rubber ducks floating in an irrigation canal under a large green leaf.

View of the village of Ogimachi through foliage.

📍 Ogimachi, Shirakawa-gō, Gifu

In the remote, cold valleys of Gifu, tall farmhouses named gasshō-zukuri have stood in bucolic little clusters for centuries. The steep, thatched roofs, used to house silkworms, are constructed with no nails: the straw is sewn to the rafters with wooden needles the size of spears. But the village of Ogimachi was an ersatz shell, with every building labeled in English, rest stops every 50 meters, and busloads of tourists herded around for selfies and souvenirs. But who was I to complain, one more foreign tourist who knows nothing about silkworms, only that they can be tricked with the right growth factors to enter a sixth instar. I turned and walked away, across the Amou Pass, where it was early spring again, my only companions a Dutch couple cycling from Fukuoka to Tokyo and, in the evening, schoolchildren ambling home in the salmon dusk on the banks of the Miyagawa.


A pair of cyclists look at a waterfall in a dense mountain forest.

The snow peaks of Hakusan on the horizon, behind dense, forested hills.

A narrow road cuts through a forest, the peaks of Hakusan visible behind it. 📍 Amou Pass, Gifu


A small brown frog looks up from a puddle.

Dried chilies hang from a coil of green wire on the wall of a garage.

The mineral-stained tub of a traditional Japanese bathhouse. 📍 Hida Furukawa, Gifu


A bartender with two Japanese flags attached to his headband prepares food in a bar.

A female bartender sings in a karaoke bar, with male customers looking on.

A Japanese futon bed laid out on the floor of a traditional Japanese room. 📍 Hida Furukawa, Gifu

The cloud of steam wafting from the pub smelled irresistably good, and I ordered two iwana, whitespotted char, for dinner. The owner fed me cherry-sized Hokkaido potatoes, the happy bunch of locals poured me cup after tiny cup of warm sake, from the brewery next door, and when my fish was done, the game came on, Japan leading Iraq by a goal. I messaged danielfromhungary in Iraq, and by the time he got to a bar of his own, the Iraqis had equalized, and it finished 1:1. The warm evening enveloped us, and the white mountains faded into the night.

Next → Day 63, June 14

Prev. ← Day 61, June 12


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.