Cape Gamōda, Tokushima → Abu, Tokushima

Map of Tokushima Prefecture with author’s route between Cape Gamōda and Abu highlighted. 🗺 Open map in GaiaGPS →

A hand with blue fingernails, dyed with indigo die, holds an indigo blue walking stick. 📍 Hachimanchō, Tokushima City

The morning sun glowed with the gold of Mediterranean winters, my fingernails were marked with the deep blue of Tokushima indigo, and it was time for a walk in the wilds of Shikoku.

A cold-looking, choppy sea from a rocky beach with a small island on the horizon.

Panorama of a jagged seashore with two small bays and lines of forested hills.

A rocky beach as seen from between small trees, with more forested hills on the horizon. 📍 Cape Gamōda, Tokushima

The cape stuck out into the Pacific like a ship’s prow, the ocean an expanse of rippling quicksilver in the fierce wind, and I stood there, barely able to breathe, then I turned around to walk until I could see the blue hills of Kyushu again.

A small statue of a Buddhist guardian in the slanting afternoon light.

From left to right: a woman in sunglasses and a knit hat (Hanga Yoshihara-Horváth), a man in a blue down jacket (Gyula Simonyi), and another man in a green canvas jacket (Peter Orosz, the author) smile into the camera.

The same woman, Hanga, balances on rocks on a beach, bundled up in many warm clothes.

A young boy in a green parka and a hand-dyed indigo shirt, Hanga’s son Mihály, brandises a samurai sword as he stands in the trunk of a car. 📍 Cape Gamōda, Tokushima

The gaunt silhouette of Gyula Simonyi had been visible from blocks away against the bulk of Tokushima Station. He had showed up the night before we left and would join me for the first days across Shikoku. We shouldered our rucksacks, waved goodbye to my friend Hanga Yoshihara-Horváth and her family, who had hosted us in Tokushima City, and set off.

Water drips from an old-fashioned hand pump labeled DRAGON.

Looking out on a sandy beach and a small island on the horizon.

Three farmhouses stand against a hillside in front of fallow fields. 📍 Cape Gamōda, Tokushima

Discarded appliances litter the undergrowth.

Trash covers the floor of a steep forest, with the sea visible behind the leaves.

A sign in the same place warns against littering.

A man with a white backpack, Peter Orosz, walks on the broken edge of a road.

Toys and plastic waste on the ground in a forest.

A man’s hiking boot steps on a discarded VCR, which lies among other pieces of garbage.

📍 Funase, Tokushima

It is a well-known fact that the Japanese don’t litter, and what little trash they produce they segregate into hyper-specific subsets for recycling. One of those subsets, readily observable on hillside roads between villages, is selections of household appliances chucked down the hillsides, to be recycled, presumably, by the monkeys and the subtropical forest.

A man with a grey rucksack, Gyula Simonyi, walks down a hillside, with a panoramic view of islands and the sea in front of him. ♨️ Cape Gamōda Hot Spring, Tokushima

Across the yellow winter grass, into the constant wind blowing from the ink-blue sea, we walked down the peninsula from Cape Gamōda, towards the interior of Tokushima.

A patch of silvergrass against a purple-orange sky.

A small fishing boat in a harbor at dusk.

A half-sunk fishing boat under a pier. 📍 Tsubaki, Tokushima

At dusk, after a few hours on the road, after an afternoon bath in an absurdly scenic bathhouse in the middle of nowhere, after a silent village where the only sign of private enterprise was a vending machine, it dawned on me with waves upon waves of joy that I really was back on the back roads of Japan, walking into the night with no idea where I would sleep or what I would eat. Later, we stood on the crest of the pass, and watched the endless carpet of stars mingle with the lights of the fishing boats out on the Pacific.

In the middle distance, a man, Peter Orosz, walks down a road in darkness, illuminated by a single streetlight. 📍 Abu, Tokushima

Shikoku Field Diary was written on the 500-kilometer walk across Shikoku in January and February 2019 that became the subject of The Wilds of Shikoku, my first book.

Additional photography on this page by Gyula Simonyi.