These Walking Dreams: Day 72 (June 23, 2017)

🌋 Mount Haruna, Gunma → Shōwa, Gunma

Map of Gunma with author’s route from Mount Haruna to Shōwa highlighted. 🗺 Open map in GaiaGPS ⇝


A red bridge leads into a forest.

The trunks of two living cedars built into a rock wall.

A small waterfall in a stream in a verdant forest.

Closeup of a blue violet.

A man rows a boat on a lake in front of a perfect volcanic cone, Mount Haruna. 📍 Mount Haruna, Gunma


Closeup of pink-orange azalea.


A road sign describes the Lake Haruna Melody Road.

Looking back on the Melody Road, with forested hills on the horizon.

Grooves in the surface of the road which make a tune when driven over.

📍 Lake Haruna ♬Melody Road♬, Gunma

I walked into the jagged old crater after sunrise, and the volcano sang. The song was Shizukana Kohan, and it came from everywhere, but mostly it came from the road which traversed the crater. And then I realized I was walking along one of Japan’s Melody Roads. Driving across the grooves cut into the asphalt played the song, the right tempo coming at 50 km/h. I walked on, into the forest, and I wondered if you could play Bach on a superhighway.


The surface of a mountain road streaked with rubber from road racing.

A white Ferrari California driven through the forest in early morning light.

Panorama of the hill country of northern Gunma and beyond. 📍 Shibukawa, Gunma

Down the slopes of Mount Haruna, god of rain and drifting, I walked under a perfect blue sky, with not an AE86 or an RX-7 in sight, when I heard the wail of a flat-crank V8 from downhill. It was a Ferrari California, out for a morning drive, and while it wasn’t driven in anger, it was driven fast enough.


A mechanic works on three colorful racing cars in a garage.

The model of a white Toyota AE86 on a table.

An actual white Toyota AE86 in a parking lot, with the same color scheme as in the anime Initial D. 📍 Shibukawa, Gunma


A manhole cover shows the city of Shibukawa as the center of Japan.

📍 Shibukawa, Gunma

After two weeks in the mountains, three fingertips on my left hand still numb with frostbite, I walked down to the edge of the Kantō Plain, the greatest metropolis on earth, and the lowland heat gathered around me like a lead apron. I wandered the streets in the white light, my head down, and I suddenly realized I was at the halfway point of my walk. Beer and fish were promptly procured to celebrate the first steps of my katabasis, which led away from Tokyo, into the mountains.


An abandoned high-heeled shoe with an animal print on the roadside.

Closeup of a field of cornflowers.

Closeup of the iron girders of a bridge over a river. 📍 Shibukawa, Gunma

Next → Day 73, June 24

Prev. ← Day 71, June 22


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.