A thick fog swirled across the caldera’s rim, and I wouldn’t see the lake until dawn, diaphanous clouds dissolving above its cerulean depths. Forty one days after I had turned left at the gate of the great Zen temple of Eihei-ji, I rejoined Alan Booth’s path across Japan. I had set out, in April, to retrace his steps, but I walked into the mountain world instead. At the serene waters of Lake Towada we met at last, and I greeted his spirit loudly, this great blond man of the back roads, and a summer breeze played across the water, and the village houses were crumbling into the forest, and I was on a great adventure.
The only river out of Lake Towada’s caldera cascaded down a spectacular basalt gorge, and I followed its course for hours, on a gentle walking trail whose length was an exception in this country of short walks. The forest was green and black, not blue, and it closed in and climbed the near-vertical walls, and I walked on, lightweight with hunger and wonder, and I listened to the river, and also to a Lotus Eleven, and night came like cool bedsheets.