I'm Craig Stanton and in 2008 I am going to walking across Japan. By the time you're reading this I may be well on my way, or I may have even finished. I've created a map page so you can check on my progress (but please don't stalk me). Drawing a rough line across the map it's about 3,500km. I estimate it'll take about 5 months if I try hard enough but I imagine it's pretty easy to get distracted and stay in some places too long. The limiting factor is the cruel winters in the north. I hear of drift ice and snow storms and that doesn't sound like fun. My plan is to go cross-country where possible and save on accomodation costs by camping. This may be impracticle by the time I reach Hokkaido at which point it's ryokans and minshukus.
Absolutely. It's not unique, this has achievable. I've even met a guy who has done it before. Tyler made a movie about his trip and I've read books by two other guys who each had their own reasons for doing it. But even if I was the first it's clearly possible if you've got the will and the time.
Be they priests, poets or guys impressing their girlfriends, people have been exploring Japan on foot for centuries. It's a very different way to see a country and I really want to experience the culture face-to-face not packaged up in tourist spots with prepared notes and guides of what you should do and see. Walking at 3 miles per hour means you really get to see things. If a tree looks good for sitting under you can do it, if you want to talk to someone on the pavement you can. Rushing past everything in a train keeps you wrapped up in a bubble and I don't want that. I'm going to know Japan south to north, I'm going to experience every mile and my feet are going to feel every step.
But it's so far!
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. How do you walk to Canada? One step at a time, and the same goes for Japan. In 2007 I thru-hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. At the beginning of that I stood at the Mexican border looking north at 4,300km of dessert, meadows, foothills and mountains. That was daunting but I did it and I loved it. This time I won't be following a marked route. I'll find maps to tell me where things are but where I go is up to me. I feel I rushed some of the PCT, the ever present worry that the trail would be burried under snow before I got to Canada kept pushing me forward. This time I am going to sit under nice trees, soak my feet in more rivers and definitely talk to more locals.
By the end of all this I hope to have learned enough Japanese to hold proper converstions with people. I'll still be an outsider but at least I'll be making the effort to understand them. To fund my continued stay, visas allowing, I'll find a little place to settle down and teach English.
Do you need any help?
Generally I think I'm going to be OK. I'm going to live pretty cheaply and camp whenever I can. There are many millions of people who are less fortunate and Oxfam are working hard to help them. If you feel like doing something to improve the world check out their website and make a donation. If you've been reading this for a while and would like to brighten my day send me an email. A note about who you are or a suggestion of places to visit would also be very welcome. I'm not doing this as a money making venture but if you really want you can donate to my PayPal account via link on the blog page. I'll get emailed about it and put the money to good use. Maybe go to an onsen or have an extra cup of saké. Cheers :-)
July 29 2008. Seero have made up a montage of video clips of Craig's walk.
Click the yellow arrow in the left box below to view