South west out of Tokyo the road unravels, from the gridlock of skyscrapers, through scattered suburban sprawl, and down and out towards the mountains, rising like blue waves ahead.

The hills look young, sharply ridged and thickly wooded, bridges like scaffolding bracing their narrow valleys. The road winds beside and between them, beneath groves of yellowish bamboo fanning their slopes like giant feathery ferns, and intermittently crossing turquoise-green rivers which slide out from the valley floors.

Japan is either steep or level. Where the hills stop, the plains start, and the rivers then meander slowly across them, between yellow rice fields and grey cities, out towards the shining pacific sea. The road veers out from the mountains to follow them, and before long we are rolling alongside the flat southern sunshine of the ocean while the land concertinas away – like a dream – in fading blue folds to the north.


first glimpse of Mount Fuji above the mountains
   hanging flat
      like a ghost or a backdrop brushed in palest
                                              (almost transparent)

Bus from Tokyo to Fukui, Japan
1st October 2014