These Walking Dreams: Day 71 (June 22, 2017)

Karuizawa, Nagano → 📍 Nidoage Pass🌋 Mount Haruna, Gunma

Map of Central Honshu with author’s route from Karuizawa, Nagano to Mount Haruna, Gunma highlighted. 🗺 Open map in GaiaGPS ⇝

Road sign showing the Japanische Romantische Straße.

A rusty cabinet in the forest with bags of volcanic ash. 📍 Karuizawa, Nagano

A big volcano, Mount Asama, behind a field with freshly sprouted plants.

A can of beer showing Mount Asama with the actual Mount Asama on the horizon. 📍 Tsumagoi, Gunma

Horror stories of the Japanese rainy season had braced me for weeks of non-stop rain, but they proved to be tall tales. By the time I walked over a pass above Karuizawa, and crossed from Nagano into Gunma Prefecture, the clouds were in tatters, and the sun had come out.

Swallows zigzagged above a small lake, dipping towards the surface for a mid-flight drink. I reciprocated with a mid-morning beer, the smoldering cone of Mount Asama behind the can, and on its label.

A motorcycle helmet in the undergrowth.

A jagged mountain ridge rises from thick forest.

A man stands by his motorcycle and watches a big volcano, Mount Asama. 📍 Nidoage Pass, Gunma

A truck drives on a mountain road in a thick forest.

Close-up of a carved wooden statue of a wolf.

The bathtub of a bathhouse is separated from the forest by a large window, but you can barely see anything from the steam. 📍 Kurabuchi, Gunma

A common attribute of many gods, apart from longevity beyond living memory, is omniscience, which would make Google a god in Japan. But even gods lapse, and it was a sign on a tree instead of the all-knowing datacenters which led me to one of the most beautiful bathhouses on my walk, a single pool looking out on a cedar forest through a tall picture window. It was guarded by two fearsome wolves, and afterwards I walked into a raspberry dusk and up the gentle slopes of Mount Haruna, into the night, on strong feet, a dark gray shadow under the stars.

A road leads into a forest under a pink-purple evening sky. 📍 Kurabuchi, Gunma

Next → Day 72, June 23

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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.