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: March, 2013

Five Lakes of Fujisan, Yamanashi

The five lakes of Fujisan are situated around the northern side of the mountain: Yamanaka (the largest), Kawaguchi, Sai, Shoji (the smallest), and Mototsu.

Lake Yamanaka, Summer 2010:

Lake Yamanaka at Dawn, Summer 2010:

Lake Yamanaka with mistSwan at sunrise

Lake Sai, Summer 2005:

Lake Kawaguchi, Summer 2005:

Lake Kawaguchi, from Mt. Tenjo, Summer 2010:

Lake Motosu, Summer 2011:

Lake Shoji, Summer 2011:

Lake Chuzenji, Nikko, Tochigi

Lake Chuzenji, above Chuzenji falls, summer 2005:

Morning and evening:

Lake Chuzenji Evening

Lakes of Tōhoku

Lakes of Mt. Bandai, Fukushima

Lake Akimoto, at the Urabandai entrance to Bandai-Asahi National Park, Summer 2010

Lake Hibara<, on the northern side of Mt. Bandai

Hiking Trail around the southern end of Lake Hibara

Lake Hibara at Sunset

Yaroku Marsh, with Mt. Bandai, near Lake Hibara

Goshikinuma ("Five-Colored Marsh"), a popular walking area east of Lake Hibara; Summer 2005

South of Mt. Bandai, is Lake Inawashiro, the fourth largest lake in Japan (after Biwa, Kasumigaura in Ibaraki, and Saroma, in Hokkaidō). The lake is a popular for watching birds, camping, water skiing, boardsailing, and bathing.

Excursion boats line the shore, Summer 2005

Lake Okama, Yamagata. Summer 2010

Between the peaks of Kumano and Katta on Mt. Zao is the emerald green Lake Okama.

Lake Towada, Aomori

Lake TowadaFall leaves Lake TowadaIsland

Fall 2009

Lake Towada. Summer 2013

Lake Tazawa, Akita

Lake Tazawa is the deepest lake in Japan.


Summer 2010

The lake is known for the legend of Princess Tatsuko who lives in the lake. Her story is this: she prayed to Kannon, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy, for eternal life. The goddess directed her to a spring and told her to drink its water. The princess did so and turned into the dragon who lives immortally in the lake.

A golden statue of the princess on the southwest side of the lake, across from Mt. Komagadake, is well-known; another statue, at Gozanoishi Shrine, on the opposite side of the lake, presents a less glamorous image of the princess:

Golden statueSeated princess

Summer 2010

In Fall 2009, we stopped briefly on our way to Lake Towada. While we were walking around the lake, a light snow began falling. Despite the frigid winters of the northland, its deep waters never freeze over. Left: Kannon statue, with fall foliage, on the lake shore. Right: Due to its clarity the water is a deep ultramarine blue despite a grayish sky.

Lake Tazawa Kannon Deep blue water

Fall 2009

Juni-ko (“Twelve Lakes”), Akita

Left: Oike (“Big Pond”), one of the 33 ponds created by an earthquake. Right: Aoike (“Blue Pond”).

OikeBlue pond

Fall 2009

Ketoba no Ike. Summer 2013

Ao-ike (Blue Pond). Summer 2013

Lake Usoriyama, Aomori. Summer 2005

Usosriyama is located in the crater of Osore-zan, one of the three sacred mountains of Japan, along with Koya-san and Hiei-zan. When we were there on a gray, dizzly morning, the air smelled of sulfur, and crows cawed desolately in the trees around the crater rim.

At Ozore-san, the souls of dead babies and children gather and pile rocks as penance hoping to gain enough good works to leave this world; the living help them with their penance by piling stones along the shore.

Lakes of Hokkaidō

Lake Toya

At dawn, with snowcapped Mt. Yōtei in the distance, Summer 2005

Summer 2013

Lake Mashu

In a volanic crater in eastern Hokkaidō, Lake Mashu is noted for its pristine water.

Left: Lake Akan, west of Lake Mashu. Right: Lake Abashiri, in eastern Hokkaidō, at sunset:

Lake Akan Lake Notoro

Lake Shikotsu, Summer 2013

Lake Biwa, Shiga

Lake Biwa is the largest lake in Japan. Dawn at Makino, on the north end of the lake. Summer 2012:

View from Otsu, at the south end of the lake. Dawn, Spring 2008:

Seaside townLake Biwa

Midday mist, Spring 2004:

Midday mistTorii

Five Lakes of Mikata, Fukui. Summer 2012

Lake Suigetsu is the largest of the five lakes. The Rainbow Line Toll Road winds up to a park at the summit of Mt. Baijo:

View of Lake Suigetsu from the park at the summit of Mt. Baijo:

Lake Hiruga is connected to Wakasa Bay:

Lake Shinji, Matsue. Sunset, Fall 2006

On our way to Izumo Taisha for the annual gathering of the gods on 10.10 (November 30 that year), the sun set into clouds arriving from the sea of Japan to the west.