Lake Ōnuma, Hokkaido → Otoshibe, Hokkaido

Map of Hokkaido with author’s route from Lake Ōnuma to Otoshibe highlighted. 🗺 Open map in GaiaGPS →

A small green train crosses a bridge by a lake. 📍 Lake Ōnuma, Hokkaido

An empty house with a strangely asymmetrical roof.

An empty street corner in a small town with marks on the asphalt indicating someone having done donuts.

A dramatic-looking volcano, Mount Komagatake, on the horizon beyond golden wheat fields. 📍 Mori, Hokkaido

The city thinned out and turned into fields, and beyond a civil engineer’s dream of a valley, all tangled roads and tunnels and rail lines, the painterly, protean silhouette of Mount Komagatake rose above the lakes, then the bay. The land was a European land, wheat fields glowing golden in the morning sun, but the mountain was a Japanese volcano, gentle slopes below a moonscape summit, and on the northern side of the peninsula, it floated above ramshackle villages clinging to a narrow highway rumbling with trucks.

A manhole cover shows Mount Komagatake from another angle.

Closeup of a bowl of ramen with a piece of butter showing a human fingerprint in the broth. 📍 Mori, Hokkaido

No grocery store in Japan would be complete without sticks of butter from Hokkaido, prominently displaying the manta ray silhouette of the island, and so it didn’t come as much of a surprise that the first ramen restaurant we visited on Hokkaido featured butter ramen on its menu. More peculiar was the culinary confusion served as the end result: a lump of butter chucked into the hot miso broth. It’s the kind of food only men who spend their days walking could love, and we slurped it up with non-ironic delight.

A vending machine sells, among other things, various sizes of Coke all costing ¥100. 📍 Mori, Hokkaido

I wonder if any other product in the world is priced like the Coke sold from this vending machine: pay ¥100, and you get as much, or as little, as you want.

A distant view of Mount Komagatake from a debris-covered beach. 📍 Mori, 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.