Minase, Akita → Sannai, Akita

Map of Akita prefecture with author’s route from Minase to Sannai highlighted. 🗺 Open map in GaiaGPS →

Closeup of long grass wet with the night’s rain.

Panorama of a hilly, very green, cloudy landscape, with a bridge and a village in the medium distance. 📍 Minase, Akita

A concrete retaining wall being constructed above a dirt road.

Some of the construction workers building the wall, suspended on cables from above.

📍 Tsubakikawa, Akita

To walk the mountain roads of Japan is to walk in the shadow of the concrete retaining walls which protect the roads from landslides. I have often wondered how they’re constructed, with their extremely steep angles, contoured surfaced, and great heights, and when I rounded a corner on a remote back road in Akita, I was rewarded with the sight of a construction crew building a new one. They swarmed up the steep cliffside like a rock climbing club, dressed in wicked, loose tobi trousers, and they waved in delight when they saw me, the only person on the road all day.

An Akita dog barking into the camera. 📍 Tsubakikawa, Akita

I have yet to pogo in Togo, and you’ll have to ask Tamas about a Coca-Cola in Angola, but I have now been barked at by an Akita in Akita.

A Japanese man in glasses and a black polo shirt, Mr. Tadashi, smiles into the camera and shows the V sign.

The author sits on a beer crate and shows the V sign in return.

Mr. Tadashi waves goodbye in front of his store.

The author walks away from Mr. Tadashi’s store.

📍 Tsubakikawa, Akita📷 Photos of me by Tadashi Honma.

You’re the first foreigner to set foot in my store,” Mr. Tadashi said, the shopkeeper of the first store I’d seen all day. I sat on a crate and took a beer from his fridge. Give me that,” he said, and brought me a colder one from another fridge. We sat and talked about the snow. Outside, the rice fields of Akita glowed golden green in the afternoon sun. Large bottles of Akita’s famous sakes lined a wall, and Mr. Tadashi told me their names. Did he have a favorite? I prefer beer,” he said, and gave me some crackers for the road.

Tall red-white poles mark the edge of a road in the countryside, designed to stick out of the region’s heavy snows in the winter.

Panorama of a valley with bright green rice fields and forested hills.

A large house with a steep, asymmetrically pitched roof by the side of the road.

A stream winds through a forest in the hills. 📍 Tsubakikawa, Akita

A pine tree against white clouds in the darkness.

A large frog climbs across the display of a vending machine, showing cans of Coke and Fanta, in the darkness. 📍 Sannai, Akita

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.