Last year after finishing the Kisoji I extended the walk by continuing on the Nakasendo, eventually stopping at Utozaka in Mitake, Gifu prefecture.
I’ve cycled in Mitake countless times but this was the first time walking in the area.
As I walked I dictated this into my Notes app:
Walking and have a strong desire to ride my bicycle again. I almost feel like crying. Must be because of Noa and my age.
The landscape brought back memories of when I didn’t have a daughter, my father wasn’t sick, the pandemic didn’t exist, and I was still in my early forties and enjoying cycling.
In other words it reminded of being younger.
These feelings manifested while walking and I paid attention. But then I reached Pachinko Road, the name coined by Craig Mod for National Route 21 and my mood changed instantly.
Trucks. Pollution. Pachinko Parlours. Home centres. Convenience stores. Noise.
Noise. Noise. Noise.
Why the hell was I walking this section? How has humanity taken a route that used to be so beautiful and turn it into… this? Why was I doing this when I could be enjoying time with family?
When I reached Nihonrain-Imawatari station I jumped on the train and headed home.
If I continue I will probably cycle the next few sections until the Nakasendo reaches the mountains again. Or I might endure the noise and pollution, shut up and just walk. Maybe I’ll learn something. Perhaps by cycling I’ll reconnect with a younger version of myself.
You never know until you try.
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