The urge to drop everything

Around Japan?” Ms. Chioko asked, in English, after we had both finished our ice creams and coffees. She had spotted me from the window, a woman from Tokyo who for some odd reason decided to spend a month of her life bumming around the northern tip of Hokkaido. She had done crazier things: 40 years before, she traveled for three years around Australia.

Yes,” I said.

And so my walk to end all my walks in Japan is officially underway. Before we parted, and I walked on to take a bath in a hot spring as salty as brine, Ms. Chioko showed me her pictures from the other end of Japan, Ishigaki Island, not far from Yonaguni, where I am headed: lush tropical jungles and turquoise seas. It took a leap of imagination to think that I would walk there from these northern latitudes, which look and feel like where I live in the Baltics, with the addition of some hills, far more deer, and a volcano off the coast that floats on an island of its own and is higher than anything in the Baltics by almost a mile.


I keep a field diary here and post individual photos here.

Please note that while my posts are in chronological order, they are delayed from real time by 3–4 days.


There is a map of my walk here.

It’s updated manually every couple of days, so it isn’t like you can follow me as a very slow blinking dot moving south-west along the Pacific Rim, but it’s good enough to get a general idea of where I am.


In my previous email, I wrote about launching a membership program that I called Walk Forever Club to support my work. As I made my final preparations for this walk, I realized that going on a long walk where I will be living out of a rucksack and sleeping in playgrounds, sheds, and abandoned railway stations for months is not the ideal moment to launch a project that requires a lot of uninterrupted computer work. The wisdom of being forty three years old and feeling…five?…sixteen?…eighty five? A very big thanks to all of you who signed up — you should have received your refunds by now, if not, please email me — and bear with me until I figure out a better way to do it.

But for now — off for a day’s walk in the hills south-west of Bifuka, the birthplace of Fukase Masahisa, who made one of my favorite books, the profoundly beautiful Karasu.

P.S.: The volcano, and my traverse of it last year.

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