Sunday, February 18, 2018

Walking The Less Traveled Road

--Susan, every other Sunday

Roads fascinate me.

Approach to Tokushima Castle ruins, Shikoku, Japan

They always have. As a child, I loved to explore the mountain trails when my family went camping, and made up stories about the tamer trails in the park near home. I knew every crack in the sidewalk in my neighborhood.

In high school, I often fought a near-overwhelming urge to "just keep driving" up Pacific Coast Highway--not to escape my life, but just to see where the winding, ocean-bordered road would end, and what lay along its path.

Flash forward twenty years, and of the tens of thousands of photographs I've taken in Japan, the most-photographed single subject is . . . the road.

Kongobuji, Mount Koya, Japan
The path.

Nakasendo Road, Japan Alps

The trail.

Mount Inari, near Kyoto

As the photographs bear witness, I find them most intriguing when they curve, preventing me from seeing what's beyond.

Tokaido, near Hakone

I suspect I could spend a lifetime analyzing why--and that if I did, the multitude of answers would still just scratch the tip of the iceberg.

Roads are mysterious.

Fushimi Inari Jinja, near Kyoto

Roads invite.

Entrance to Hakone Jinja, Hakone, Japan

Roads hold the keys to adventure . . .

Railroad tracks, Tokushima, Japan

. . . and the path to lead us home.

Okunoin, Mount Koya, Japan

Roads offer a space for reflection, and for pilgrimage.

This is a road, too - you just can't see it all with your earthly eyes.

Roads hold thousands of years of history - and in some places, you can almost hear the sandaled feet of the men and women who walked them hundreds of years ago.

The Nakasendo, passing through Magome, Japan

On some roads, I've heard those ghostly feet more literally, too.

Okunoin Cemetery by night.

Each trail, road, and path has a story to tell, if we're willing to listen.

The Tengu's Seat, Mount Mitake

Each road holds an adventure, if we're willing to step out of our comfort zone and walk.

Forest of the Gods, Mount Mitake, Japan

This May, I will start a journey that will lead me up a hundred mountains, along a hundred mountain roads, some paved . . .

Lanterns in Magome, Japan Alps

. . . and many more, in the words of Frost, "less traveled."

Traditional foot bridge along the old Tokaido, near Hakone

I will finally find out more about what lies at the end of those winding, mountain roads. But, perhaps more importantly, I will find out more about what lies within the heart of the person who goes to walk them.

Lamppost and waterfall, Mino-o Park, Osaka, Japan

No sincere pilgrim ever returns from a pilgrimage unchanged.

Because the road, not the destination, is the true purpose of the journey--something my photographer's eye has apparently realized all along.

Dawn on the Nakasendo, Japan Alps

And the act of walking along your chosen road--wherever it leads you--is the part that makes all the difference.


  1. Indeed, and the road to nowhere is very often the road to everywhere. It's the enticement of what's round the next corner, and the next....and the next....

    1. Exactly! I think that's why I love curving roads so much. They hold all the promise in the world.

  2. We are soul sisters my friend. Can’t wait to hit the road with you!! September?

    1. Yes! Let's talk - I can't wait to show you Japan!!

  3. All of us should stop, reflect, and determine for ourselves, Am I on the right road?????

    1. Exactly - and we should do it often, so we don't miss out on the wonderful adventures that await.

  4. My journey these days seems to have me tracing the footsteps of that famous Greek god Potholes, for whatever road I choose to follow I find signs warning me, "Pot Holes Ahead."

    1. Ahh, Potholes. I've followed his footsteps often enough myself. That said, I'm rather fond of his brother . . . Donutholes.

  5. The road may be hard, but as long as you don't fall down that won't matter...

    1. Or if you do fall, as long as you get back up again and keep walking. :)

  6. Inspiring, Susan! Getting lost is the best adventure.

  7. Love this, Susan, and can’t wait to follow your adventure! When my husband and I were in Japan, we learned that many of the gardens were designed with paths in mind, to pique curiosity by making it so the traveler couldn’t see where there paths end 😊