These Walking Dreams: Day 102 (July 23, 2017)

Mutsu, Aomori → 📍 Lake Usori♨️ Yagen Hot Spring, Aomori

Map of Aomori prefecture with author’s route from Mutsu to Yagen Hot Spring highlighted. 🗺 Open map in GaiaGPS ⇝

A stuffed bear and a rabbit sit in a window, facing away from the camera.

A battleship floats on the sea in the distance.

A large, gnarly cedar stands by the road.

Looking at the tree trunks in a very gloomy cedar forest.

A dark, foggy cedar forest.

A stone statue of a roadside deity in the forest wears a white headscarf . 📍 Mutsu, Aomori

On a battleship grey morning I walked into the underworld, into a forest where clouds swirled between the trees, where the darkness never lifted, not at noon, where statues in white headscarves like Zoroastrian schoolchildren in the alleys of Yazd lined the road. It was the underworld, and the cloud obscured the temple of Bodai-ji on the shores of the acid lake. It was a savage, primeval land, the end of classical Japan, and I walked out of the caldera on a road lined with sulfur deposits, and the cloud lifted like white magic, and summer light enveloped the forest. It was Japan in its extreme, and it was the beginning of the end.

The light grey waters of a lake barely distinguisable from the air.

A sulphur deposit on a lakeshore.

A small grey jeep festooned with stickers parked in the fog.

A sulphur deposit by a stream as seen from above through leaves. 📍 Lake Usori, Aomori

Facing away from the camera, the author stands naked in an outside bath in the forest, visible from the waist above. 📍 Yagen Hot Spring, Aomori

The last spur of Honshu is a battle axe drawn against the savage north, and I walked its narrowing roads two months after I had set foot on this endless island. A bathhouse stood by the river, and I floated in the salty water until the afternoon sky faded to grey, two rice balls for the road ahead cooling in my rucksack. I slept by the pool, then I walked on, into the night forest, on closed and crumbling roads, under the stars, and five hours later, I reached the coast and saw the mountains of Hokkaido across the Tsugaru Strait.

From a set of steps in a seaside village, mountains are visible across the sea. 📍 Sai, Aomori

Next → Day 103, July 24

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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.