Ōzu, Ehime → 📍 Night and Day Pass → Honai, Ehime

Map of Ehime Prefecture with author’s route between Ōzu and Honai highlighted. 🗺 Open map in GaiaGPS →

📍 Ōzu Shrine, Ōzu, Ehime

A manhole cover shows two of the fishing cormorants Ōzu is famous for.

A kura, an old Japanee storehouse, in an overgrown lot.

A carp with a large curve in its spine swims in a canal by a street paved with large stones. 📍 Ōzu, Ehime

There is apparently such a thing as a scoliotic carp.

Closeup of the beautiful woodwork of a porch.

An old Toshiba CD player on a tatami mat.

The hands of a person in what looks like an office hold an iPhone with a biography of Alan Booth in Japanese on its screen.

A tourism form on which I describe the journey detailed in these pages.

Moss and old leaves in a cardboard box lined with plastic.

An intricate stone wall at the entrance of the Garyū Mountain Villa.

Looking out on an elaborately landscaped garden from the porch of the same house. 📍 Garyū Mountain Villa, Ōzu, Ehime

The Garyū Sansō […] has three classically bare rooms, through each of which I strolled alone, except for the elderly custodian who followed me about switching on the Toshiba portable cassette recorders that were located at convenient points around the cottage, and out of which came the endless explanatory monologues without which Japanese visitors seem to find tranquility incomprehensible,” Alan Booth wrote about his visit to the Garyū Mountain Villa, and thirty six years later the Toshiba portable cassette recorders were silent, and I sat above the river, across the hillside, and I watched the rain fall. The house was connected to my own in elegiac and invisible ways, and for that hour I was at home again, after three years, and I remembered the trees and the birds and the hillside and the river. Later, I found the new custodian, and told her about Alan Booth, in the tranquil gloom of the night room, where the walls were dark grey and the setting sun turned into the moon, imagined and real.

A blue express train passes a Japanese house in the hills.

A large pile of rotting oranges in the undergrowth.

An abandoned Yamaha piano on a forest floor.

A rusty and overgrown sign shows the distances to Misaki (60 km) and Yawatahama (5 km).

An all-in-one karaoke machine in the undergrowth of a forest, made of a small TV, a CD player, and a speaker. 📍 Night and Day Pass, Ehime

K•A•R•A•O•K•E T•I•M•E!! On the old road between Ōzu and Yawatahama, dripping with the morning rain, strewn with rotting oranges and televisions, a karaoke machine sat in the undergrowth. The occasion called for an a cappella rendition of the Pixies’s Wave of Mutilation, and the sea was now very near, and the afternoon sun dipped towards its many islands.

A stone wall underneath a village house, similar to but less elaborate than that of the Garyū Mountain Villa above.

A line of fallen oranges at the edge of an asphalt road. 📍 Yawatahama, Ehime

On the sixteenth day of my walk I came again in sight of the sea. I glimpsed it first from the highest point of the old pass road, lying bleached and indistinguishable from the sky, beyond the port of Yawatahama […] and in the midday heat flies swam round my face,” Alan Booth wrote, and on the fifteenth fourteenth day of my own walk I came again, too, in sight of the sea. I glimpsed it first past the highest point of the old pass road, set against the blazing sunset like the engine bay of a McLaren F1, and the drone of the expressway percolated through the endless orange groves like a swarm of flies.

A frog’s eye view of a Lexus LS500 sports car stands parked on a street with its brake lights on and reflected on the asphalt. 📍 Yawatahama, Ehime

In an age when the dominant aesthetics of GTs is that of new money and naked sociopathy, the LS500 is a punk gesture of understatement. It is all sinuous lines and tense sinews, power present but never flaunted, a Citroën SM or a Maserati Bora on fifty years of fast forward. The silent streets of Yawatahama beat to the tune of its twin-turbo, and it rolled into the empty night, and the sea was palpable now, its tendrils extending between the houses, below the fishing boats parked between offices.

A small boat is parked in a canal that runs between office buildings. 📍 Yawatahama, Ehime

The polished wooden steps and floor of a Japanese shrine in the darkness. 📍 Honai, Ehime

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.