♨️ Yagen Hot Spring, Aomori → Ōma, Aomori → ⛴ Tsugaru Strait🌃 Hakodate, Hokkaido

Map of Northern Japan with author’s route from Yagen Hot Spring to Ōma in Aomori, then across the Tsugaru Strait to Hakodate, Hokkaido, highlighted. 🗺 Open map1 in GaiaGPS (A,B,C) →

Across a grey seascape, the mountains of Hokkaido are visible.

A black bear in a menacing pose on a red-on-yellow billboard with a lot of Japanese writing.

A wooden shack on the shore has its roof weighed down by rocks and car wheels.

Old and new boards join on the wall of a wooden shack. 📍 Sai, Aomori

Closeup of a fish head on an asphalt road.

The lighthouse at Cape Ōma, the northern tip of Honshu, viewed from ground level, with Hokkaido on the horizon.

Newly cast 30-ton concrete tetrapods. 📍 Ōma, Aomori

Tags of giant bluefin tuna on a wall, most of the weighing more than 100 kilograms.

Slices of raw bluefin tuna in a red lacquer bowl, with the different cuts of meat clearly distinguishable by color.

View of a seafood restaurant with two customers at a table, and a picture of a woman posing with a bluefin tuna much larger than she is in the foreground.

📍 Ōma, Aomori

It is a food of gods, not men, and I’m never having it again, but at Takeuchi Kaoru’s restaurant at the northern tip of Honshu, within sight of the lighthouse at land’s end, my breakfast was a rainbow of bluefin tuna on a bowl of rice, four slices each of lean and medium meat topped with two slices of ōtoro, the fatty underbelly. My walk across the world’s seventh largest island was over. I ate in silence, mesmerized by the otherwordly textures of the meat, and sick with the shame and hubris of it all, of slaughtering these rare torpedoes of marine evolution and turning them into power breakfasts. Outside, beyond wooden shacks greyed and beaten by the Tsugaru winters, my ship, the Daikan Maru, returned from the north.

A large ship called Daikan Maru anchored in a harbor. 📍 Ōma, Aomori

A man at the railing of a ferry looks out at the sea, wearing a t-shirt decorated with Ishigaki and Iriomote, two of Japan’s southernmost islands, thousands of kilometers away.

A seagull stands on a ship as it draws away from Honshu.

Screenshot from FlightRadar showing the author’s location in the Tsugaru Strait, skirted to the west by a plane carrying his brother.

A grainy speck on the horizon above a city, the author’s brother’s plane, is highlighted with a yellow arrow. 📍 Ōma → Hakodate ferry, Tsugaru Strait

Long-time readers of these field notes will remember my brother, the astronomer Gabor Orosz, who had left Japan in the days before I walked out of Kagoshima, to pursue projects in the Netherlands. It was time for him to return, and he did so in high Top Gear fashion, buzzing the Daikan Maru across the Tsugaru Strait in his Vanilla Air Airbus A320. Across continents and islands and straits, we arrived at our rendezvous point two minutes apart. His hair had grown to surfer lengths, and he had turned 30. I looked weather-beaten. Beers and fried chicken were procured, a bathhouse was located, and more than four years after he had moved to Japan, he spent his first night in a park, crash-landing into my vagabond life. I was overjoyed to see him.

Looking down a street along a tram line in the sunset.

A manhole cover with three squids says Hakodate. 📍 Hakodate, Hokkaido

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.

  1. There are three way to cross from Honshu to Hakodate, the port on Hokkaido’s southern spur. One can take the Shinkansen across the Seikan Tunnel from Aomori City, or choose between two ferries, one of which also leaves from Aomori City. I took the one from Ōma instead, mainly as it allowed for a longer walk on Honshu.↩︎