Appi Plateau, Iwate → Jōbōji, Iwate

Map of Iwate prefecture with author’s route from Appi Plateau to Jōbōji highlighted. 🗺 Open map in GaiaGPS →

A Lawson convenience store on a cloudy day, with a forested mountain on the horizon.

📍 Appi Plateau, Iwate

Orange plums drying in two woven baskets.

An abandoned-looking house with two political posters on its wall.

An unusual shrine gate made of metal, painted yellow and rusting.

A wooden trellis decorated with various tchotchkes, including three similar-looking plastic animals: a pig, a frog, and a bear.

📍 Hachimantai, Iwate

A Japanese man, Mr. Takamori, poses for the camera in the night with his three sons. 📍 Jōbōji, Iwate

A thick fog filled the valley in a matter of minutes as the day wore out, and I turned on the penultimate road to Aomori, the end of Tōhoku, and I walked in a chilly, November gloom. Google’s god-like powers were waning, and it knew nothing about the family store of Mr. Takamori, lights up and open deep into the night, living on Mediterranean time instead of Japanese time. His sons joined us one by one, they brought me handwritten notes and comic books, they told me about their shared love of baseball.

Walk forever?” Mr. Takamori asked.

I slept by the river, and woke up to a breakfast of warm rice balls.

The author holds a fresh rice ball wrapped in seaweed. 📍 Jōbōji, Iwate

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.