Rest day in Tosa, Kōchi

Map of central Kōchi Prefecture.

Panorama of an artificial lake with forested mountains behind it.

Looking down on two shipping containers in a parking lot in front of a row of large cherry trees. Behind is the artificial lake and the mountains. 📍 Sameura Dam, Kōchi

An old exercise machine, made of wood and green painted metal, in an old, sunlit room. 📍 Tosa, Kōchi

I don’t pump iron, but if I did, I’d pump it on this vintage Japanese exercise machine, all wood and knurled steel and exposed screws.

A man in a navy blue parka, Gyökös Lajos, holds up a bottle of yellow liquid with a snake coiled inside. 📍 Tosa, Kōchi

Among the stranger things I’ve encountered in the Japanese countryside is a mamushi (Gloydius blomhoffii) in a bottle. It looked dead.

A minivan with a white racing kayak lashed to its roof parked in front of a wooden Japanese house. 📍 Tosa, Kōchi

A cat resting in front of a space heater.

An ice cube shaped like the skull of a bird on a black plate. 📍 Tosa, Kōchi

I met a whaler in Kōchi,” Lajos said. He spends a third of the year in Arctic waters, a third of the year in Antarctica. This is a piece of 8,000-year-old Antarctic ice he brought me last year.” We were having a relaxing time, and we made it Suntory time, and listened to air bubbles older than the walls of Jericho and the citadel of Erbil sizzle in the cool night. The next morning, Lajos drove off to the ocean, his white racing kayak sparkling with frost, and I walked west, into a swirling, milk-white fog which soon burned off the land.

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.