links to APDL and KCC link to KCC homepage link to APDL homepage

Roads of Oku: Home

Inspiration ...

Matsuo Basho's Narrow Road to the Deep North, Translated by Nobuyuki Yuasa / Google Map: Bashō's Oku no Hosomichi ("Narrow Road to the Deep North")

Journeys ...

Spring 2004: On the Road in Kansai / Google Map
Summer 2005: Roads of Oku / Google Map
Fall 2006: Where Gods Alight / Google Map
Summer 2007: Hōkūle‘a in Yokohama / Map
Winter 2008: Snow Country / Google Map
Spring 2008: Full Bloom & Festivals / Google Map
Summer 2009: Fireflies & Sweet Fish / Google Map
Fall 2009: North Country Colors / Google Map
Summer 2010: Legends of the Land / Google Map
Spring 2011: On the Far Side of Disaster / Google Map
Summer 2012: Travels in the Fifth Moon / Google Map
Summer 2013: Far Roads: Finishing Touches / Google Map
Summer 2015: Saké-Tasting in the Kingdom of Local Brew

Memorable ...

Roads / Seacoasts & Coastal Roads / Bridges / Ferries / Walks & Hikes / Mountains / Ropeways / Rivers / Waterfalls / Lakes / Trees / Rocks / Caves / Hot Springs / Sakura / Fall Colors / Archaeology and History / Castles / Shrines / Temples / Gardens / Festivals / Food / Drinks
Photography: Dennis Kawaharada and Karen Ono

Note ...

On Driving in Japan

Roads of Oku: Journeys in the Heartland

A collection of essays on Japanese culture, history and literature. Available at (Far Roads Press, 2015).


Revised: Summer 2015

in sakura’s house, from start to finish, around twenty days (Bashō)

In early April, 2008 (See "Full Bloom and Festivals"), we drove west along the general route of the Tōkaidō (“Eastern Sea Road”), from Tōkyō to Kyōto, into the oncoming bloom of sakura, which sweeps northeast-ward, beginning in Okinawa as early as January and ending in Hokkaidō in late May. In Otsu, near Kyōto, we turned back to Tōkyō on the route of the Nakasendō ("Central Mountain Road") and found sakura blooming in the mountain city of Matsumoto. The fullest bloom was in Hikone, a castle town on the east shore of Lake Biwa.

Kamakura, Kanagawa

Danzakura Avenue to Hachiman Shrine:

Gempei Pond in front of Hachiman Shrine.

Odawara Castle, Kanagawa

Izu Peninsula, Shizuoka

Inozawa River, Shimoda, Early Morning

Izu Road, West Coast, a row of trees beyond field of nanohana (rape-seed flowers):

Sections of the road are planted with sakura:

Nihondaira, Shizuoka

Hamamatsu Flower Park, Aichi

Yozakura ("Night Sakura")

The park in the daytime:

Tulip fields and sakura:

Yoshino, Nara


Ishibutai, Asuka, Nara

Stone tomb of Soga no Umako (551-626), a nobleman who promoted Buddhism and government reforms introduced from China and Korea during the formative years of the nation:


Sakura scattering petals in a gust of wind.


Kamo River:

Mii-dera, Otsu, Shiga

Hikone Castle, Shiga


Agematsu, Kiso, Nagano

On the Nakasendō, in the Kiso valley, we stopped at Ono-no-Taki, a waterfall depicted in Hiroshige’s woodblock print of Agematsu, in Sixty-nine Stations of the Kisokaidō. A lone sakura tree offered branches in bloom.

Matsumoto Castle, Nagano

Coda: Ueno Park, Spring 2014

On our 2008 sakura journey, we skipped Ueno park to avoid the traffic and crowds. But in Spring 2014, we happened to be in Tōkyō on the first day of prime bloom in Ueno Park, so we caught train there.

ueno park crowd

ueno park sakura

We walked along the Sumida River, where the sakura was also in full bloom: