Sannai, Akita β†’ Sawauchi, Iwate

Map of Tōhoku with author’s route from Sannai, Akita to Sawauchi, Iwate highlighted. πŸ—Ί Open map in GaiaGPS β†’

A dense spiderweb in the undergrowth.

A Japanese striped snake forms a sine wave with its body on the asphalt.

πŸ“ Sannai, Akita β€” 🐍 Japanese striped snake (Elaphe quadrivirgata)

Advertisements for snowplows on a garage door, showing an enthusiastic woman in a blue coat in a snowy landscape.

Large red and yellow snowplows for sale. πŸ“ West Waga, Iwate

The author holds a piece of packaged whale meat costing Β₯597 in his left hand. πŸ“ Yuda, Iwate

The conclusion of Japanese scientific whaling is a chunk of meat which sells for less, by weight, than an apple. Of course it does: tending to an apple orchard requires care and long-term commitment, while shooting large, docile, wild mammals in the head with an explosive harpoon requires neither. Peer review was provided by elderly couples buying little boxes of whale sashimi for lunch. The day outside was an oven, and I walked up the valley, towards the volcano.

Closeup of a paper map showing the author’s route across Central Honshu. πŸ“ Yuda, Iwate

A man in a straw hat rides a bicycle in front of a house with a steep, asymmetrically pitched roof. πŸ“ Sawauchi, Iwate

To imagine this radiant green land as the snowiest place on earth is an exercise beyond my mental capacities, but it’s not only the snowplows parked in every garage that hint at the peculiar climate of Snow Country. From Akita northward, most houses are built with roofs angled like an Alpine rock wall, so that the mountains of snow in winter will slide off instead of accumulating for a front porch avalanche.

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.