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.
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.
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.
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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.