Hanawa, Fukushima → Tōno, Fukushima

Map of Fukushima with author’s route from Hanawa to Tōno highlighted. 🗺 Open map in GaiaGPS →

Blue hydrangeas in the rain.

A village by a small river under overhanging grey clouds.

An extravagant-looking green and blue caterpillar. 📍 Hanawa, Fukushima

Tourist brochures exulting in Japan’s four seasons invariably grind to a painful halt when they come to describing the fifth, the rainy season, using language which feels like the product of a gun held to a copywriter’s head. The beauty of hydrangeas in the constant drizzle is often hinted at, as a saving grace. But when I spent a day walking in the constant drizzle in the hills of southern Fukushima, looking at radiant blue hydrangeas dotting a lush, green land, the idea no longer felt laughable. The land glowed in the clean, wet air, and caterpillars dressed as if for Mardi Gras in New Orleans came out on the road.

A small astronomical observatory over rolling green hills in the rain.

A Japanese man and an American boy smile into the camera. 📍 Samegawa, Fukushima

I was in Seattle on 11/9, and for days, people walked the streets with their heads down, unable to comprehend that such a man had been elected President of the United States,” Josh said. We sat in the kitchen of Mr. Ponta’s working farm, which served as a refuge for children whose families had lost their land in the Fukushima nuclear disaster. He was a child of diplomats, a lapsed Latter-day Saint who peppered his speech with My goodness!”, whose diverse practical skills included the ability to build a treehouse, to which the children then made extravagant claims.

We drank our coffee, the rain hesitant. I grew up in Beijing, Taipei, and Tokyo, but this is the first time I’ve been to rural Japan,” he said. It’s a wonderful place.” Outside, the children were hammering away, the rain stopped, and I walked into the woods, missing them already.

A man fishing by a stream in the forest.

Looking up at a concrete supporting wall. 📍 Tabito, Fukushima

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.