Chasing hiroshige’s vision of japan – the new york times

I soon came into Tsumago, a beautifully preserved Edo-era town on the Nakasendo road in the Kiso Valley. Avocado deviled eggs recipe no mayo I had wanted to visit for years — 35, actually — and had chosen to walk from the train so I could first experience the town as travelers had in the 19th century: on foot, the neat rows of wooden houses revealing themselves in diminishing perspective as I turned the corner. Egg and avocado on toast But it was 2011, so instead I entered via the parking lot, and had to negotiate my pack between an idling bus and a pair of vending machines featuring the image of Tommy Lee Jones.

Traveling the road was an envied, once-in-a-lifetime experience, and those who got the chance availed themselves of spectacular views, local culinary delicacies, hot spring baths and other more carnal pursuits along the way. Poached egg and avocado breakfast Those who couldn’t go, or wanted souvenirs to remember their journeys, bought prints like Hiroshige’s for roughly the price of a double serving of noodles.


The strikingly modern designs, the warm hues of the skies and trees, the towns nestled in the mountains or by the sea, the raucous joy of the travelers, and the almost palpable sense of the seasons lit up something inside me — I stood there transfixed. Avocado and egg sandwich I was soon spending hours trying to draw like Hiroshige. Avocado egg roll recipe from cheesecake factory I became obsessed by all things Japanese — books, movies; I even took up Japanese fencing. Avocado egg bacon breakfast The country had recovered from the war, but was not yet the economic powerhouse it would become in the 1980s — it was something of a blank slate for my imagination.

This interest never quite faded away like others of adolescence. Avocado egg rolls recipe cheesecake factory But over the decades, various events (college, jobs, children) seemed timed to prevent me from actually visiting Japan. Egg stuffed avocado recipes Or maybe I just told myself that. Baked avocado and egg I suppose, deep in my heart, I didn’t want modern reality to get in the way of my childhood fantasy land.

So in 2011 when my wife and two children had finally had enough — Why don’t you just go? — I screwed up my courage and went, with one goal of recreating the Hiroshige experience. Avocado with egg recipes The Tokaido is mostly built over, but portions of the Nakasendo, which connects Tokyo and Kyoto via the interior, and which Hiroshige had also chronicled, are still preserved.

The evening after my rainy wrong turn I clumped eagerly up the road from Tsumago to the town of Magome. Avocado and egg pizza I was in some kind of heaven that day, in either bright sunshine or cool, crisp shade, but was rarely out of earshot of a highway. Egg and avocado breakfast ideas At one point, deep in the woods, I encountered a vending machine (Tommy Lee Jones again). Recipes with avocado and egg I had an iced coffee.

Four years later, as I planned my return to Japan, I knew I had to travel beyond the populated heart of the country if I wanted to really replicate the world I had seen in those prints, going farther afield than Hiroshige himself.

Spirituality aside, this seemed to have everything I wanted: long walks deep in the woods, beautiful towns with little hotels promising hot baths, sake and great meals. Baked avocado and egg recipe The idea of going alone was intimidating (I could only imagine how little English was spoken) but I hated the idea of being part of a group with a guide. Avocado and egg pizza recipe My Japanese obsession is a very private thing. Avocado and egg for weight loss And that’s when I discovered Oku Japan, and the self-guided tour.

I found it online. Baked egg and avocado recipe The reviews were good. Egg white and avocado For $955, Oku would book my hotels and provide me with a step-by-step guide to the trail. Avocado egg rolls recipe healthy The company, based in Cheshire, England, had an office in Japan with an emergency phone number; this made my wife feel better. Healthy egg and avocado recipes I opted for a four-day, three-night hike, paying a little more for a single supplement, but less because I’d take care of my own train tickets with a Japan Rail Pass. Is avocado and egg good for you Oku provided me with timetables.

First I spent two days in Tokyo. Boiled egg and avocado I visited print galleries during the day and wandered Shinjuku at night — to a New Yorker, it felt like 20 Times Squares — where I was carried along in a swirl of crowds, neon, blaring pop music, screeching overhead trains, weird bird tweets at walk signs and the approaches of English-speaking touts who promised “100 percent naked women,” all the beer I could drink in 60 minutes or both.

I deflected offers of the first by pointing to my wedding ring, and the second by feigning indignation and announcing that I did not drink. Eggs and avocado healthy recipe Then I went off in search of a quiet cocktail bar. Egg and avocado recipes I found several, including a tiny one in the decrepit but atmospheric Golden Gai section, where the bartender said I looked like Jack Bauer from “24.” I don’t, but the name stuck, and the other drinkers exclaimed “Goodnight, Jack Bauer!” in tipsy unison as I returned to the lantern-lit alley an hour or so later.

At my inn in Kyoto, a package awaited from Oku Japan: my 12-page itinerary, a booklet detailing the Kumano Kodo with directions (I would be taking the Nakahechi route) and several beautiful laminated color maps with height elevations. Avocado and egg for face I was all set. Avocado and egg toast recipe The next morning, having condensed my essentials and a few of my favorite books about Japan into a shoulder bag, I grabbed a boxed lunch at Kyoto Station and got on the Super Kuroshia No. Baked avocado and eggs 7 limited express, nonreserved car, as per my instructions.

I studied my itinerary and maps as the outskirts of Kyoto and then Osaka gave way to small towns and finally, the blue expanse of the Inland Sea, dotted with tiny islands as jagged and numerous as those portrayed by Hiroshige. Salad with egg and avocado The train hugged the west coast of the peninsula before arriving at the town of Kii-Tanabe, where I got off and found the bus that would take me into the interior.

As I got on, I noticed a group of Westerners who seemed to be following the same instructions. Baked avocado and eggs recipe This was something I had not considered: Others would be taking the same self-guided tour at the same time and I would be, by default, part of a group. Fried egg and avocado Photo

I paid the 960 yen (about $8.80) Oku had prepared me for, and went into a shop to get water and a bamboo walking stick. Egg white and avocado breakfast I also wanted to let the others get ahead of me.

I followed my instructions. Healthy avocado and egg recipes The first shrine, Takijiri oji, was just behind the shop. Avocado and egg salad recipes I walked toward it, and then to the left around it, and saw the beginning of the trail, a sharply ascending ladder of logs and tangled tree roots, slick with damp leaves, beside a steep drop-off. Hard boiled egg and avocado recipes Up I went.

Have I mentioned that I’m not much of a hiker? Beyond my Japanese-fencing phase, athletics have never been a priority. Egg and avocado breakfast sandwich I’m not outdoorsy; I’m indoorsy. Avocado and egg for hair But my Hiroshige fantasy propelled me onward, even as my chest started to ache awfully soon.

I’m also a little anxious about heights. Egg and avocado bake This was an issue that first day, and on the subsequent two days, as the trail was often atop a towering cliff on the right side, the left side, or at a few spots, both sides, the path crowning a precipitous land bridge. Avocado and boiled egg At one point, I kicked a small rock to determine how long it would take to the reach the bottom. Egg in avocado hole recipe It was still bouncing down, on and on, more and more distant, when I resumed my trek.

I got into a rhythm, marking my progress on my map and at every wooden trail marker. Baked avocado egg bowl Oku explained the history and legends associated with this or that shrine or landmark, kept me from taking several wrong turns, and warned me away from a detour that, while promising a great view, would have been exhausting. Avocado and egg bake And anyway, there were already views at every break in the trees — layers and layers of mountains, some smooth, others rough with treetops, their ridges meeting in diagonal lines, each a different shade of green-blue.

The first day was only 2.8 miles. Avocado and egg nutrition Soon I descended into the tiny town of Takahara. Toast with avocado and egg Here two roads met on a gliding slope, and there were a few shops and one hotel, the Organic Hotel Takahara Kiri-no-sato. Avocado and egg on toast Every room in the place, from the wide-open lobby-dining room with its bare support beams to the men’s and women’s baths to the bedrooms, had spectacular views of the yawning valley below, now tinted gold. Baked avocado with egg Photo

After a bit I went for a bath, joined in the wooden tub by two chatty and elderly Japanese men, and enjoyed the view of the darkening mountains some more before getting dressed for dinner, set for precisely 6:30 p.m.

One member of the group, Janet, invited me to sit with them, and I liked the idea, but my hosts said this would be impossible: We were different parties, after all. Avocado and egg for diabetes Sometimes in Japan, I’ve found, rules can be intractable. Avocado and egg recipes So I ate alone — pickles, beef I dipped in boiling water, and several other items including a very western avocado dish — at the next table over, my back to the others. Avocado and scrambled egg It was equal parts awkward and comic. Avocado egg tomato breakfast “How are you doing over there, Wendell,” Janet asked at one point over her shoulder.

The rules were relaxed as the meal ended, and I shifted my chair around and joined the other table as I finished my sake (not included in Oku’s fee). Avocado egg recipe microwave There were five of them: Janet; her husband, Stan; her aunt Elvina; her colleague Pat; and Pat’s friend, also named Pat.

We traded the basic details of our lives. How long to bake avocado and egg They were from Canada, Edmonton and Vancouver, with jobs that included judges and lawyers in family court. Avocado and egg toast It made for fascinating after-dinner conversation. Avocado egg roll recipes They were also fierce hikers, having tackled many ambitious walks, such as the Camino de Santiago in Spain. Sandwich with avocado and egg They were indeed following Oku’s instructions, and had found the first day’s walk a snap. Avocado egg nog “Have you seen the elevations for tomorrow, and the day after?” one asked me.

The second day’s hike was 6.5 miles, including 1,575 feet of ascent. Lean in 15 avocado and egg I went down to the village to take in the view from there, and to allow the Canadians to get a head start; I still envisioned my hike as a solitary adventure. Egg and avocado breakfast recipes Soon enough I was deep in the woods, marveling at the towering and straight-up Japanese cedars and passing an abandoned house that looked like something out of a Japanese horror movie. Avocado and egg diabetes Some trees were flecked with early-autumn orange. Baked avocado egg rolls I sat on a stump to eat two sandwiches the Organic Hotel had packed for me for lunch.

At one point I paused beside an especially deep ravine. Avocado and baked egg The cedars stood like an infinite army of stoic and towering sentries all around and above and below me, endless legions of them, falling away on my hill and then rising higher on the next one, their tops shimmering gently way, way up there in the occasional breeze. Avocado and egg baked A few beams of sunlight slanted down, but otherwise all was in shade. Avocado and egg face mask There wasn’t a sound, not a bird, not a cricket; even the branches swaying in the breeze could not be heard, as if they were in a silent movie. Breakfast with avocado and eggs Photo

My hiking senses sharpened. Avocado and egg mask I came to learn that a glimpse of blue sky near the bottom of the trunks ahead meant I was reaching the crest of a mountain, just as the increasingly loud gurgle of a stream meant I was reaching the bottom. Egg and avocado salad There always seemed to be more up than down.

I encountered the occasional solitary hiker flying by with scissoring poles, pilgrims with twinkling bells, and small groups. Egg in avocado weight loss One was a gaggle of young women from Osaka who asked me to take their picture, asked me to appear in a picture with them, and gave me as a reward a selection of Japanese candies. How to make baked avocado and egg After they thanked me and I absent-mindedly responded “Sure,” they engaged in a contest to see who could best imitate my voice, each attempt getting deeper and of longer duration. How to make avocado and egg “Sure.” “Sure.” “Suuuuure.”

At another point I was joined by a retired Japanese man who spoke nostalgically of the months he’d spent in Indiana studying engineering. Avocado and egg blood sugar He practiced his English on me while I practiced my Japanese on him. Avocado and poached egg on toast (Sumimasen?)

Oku had warned that the Kii Peninsula could be rainy, but I never had anything but sun. Avocado and poached egg recipes My stamina followed an arc: I tired quickly, then got into a rhythm, magically energized. Avocado and egg breakfast recipe I felt my mind open up and go free — it wandered through time, over that print show at the Cooper Hewitt, my family, my first trip to Japan, even my job: Solutions to several vexing problems at work suddenly became clear.

I tired again as I approached my destination, the town of Chikatsuyu, where Oku had booked me at a minshuku, a guesthouse, more modest than a traditional Japanese inn. Avocado and egg recipes buzzfeed It sat on the far bank of the Tonda. Recipe for baked avocado and egg I had another long, hot bath, this one fed by a hot spring, again with two chatty and elderly Japanese men, though not the same ones as the evening before.

I threw in once and for all with the Canadians at dinner. Avocado and egg breakfast pizza Maybe I’d already tired a little of my own thoughts. Avocado and egg in oven We agreed to stick together the next day. Healthy egg and avocado breakfast Another group at the guesthouse was from Spain, including a stocky bald man said to be a karate expert.

We started early the following morning — Elvina was soon way ahead — and marked our progress on our maps. Avocado and boiled egg breakfast We had lunch in a small field next to a stream: I had two rice balls I’d bought at a shop in Chikatsuyu and an egg that Elvina made me take from the hotel, saying she was worried I wouldn’t have enough for lunch. Avocado and egg breakfast sandwich Continue reading the main story

That day’s hike was the longest at nine miles with roughly 2,000 feet of ascent. Avocado and egg I was glad for that extra egg. Avocado and egg in microwave This was the moderate option suggested by Oku; it included a quick bus ride. Avocado and egg yolk face mask There was an easier option with a longer bus ride but that felt like cheating. Avocado and egg breakfast Eventually, we came out of the forest and walked along paved roads in little farming towns. Baked avocado and egg recipes The hike ended in the magnificent Grand Shrine at Hongu, a key stop for many of those mountain-worshiping pilgrims. Egg and avocado sandwich recipes The shrine’s low-slung wooden buildings sat atop a towering stone staircase limned by hundreds of white flags blazing with Japanese characters, a fittingly dramatic finale.

That night’s accommodation was a modern hot springs hotel. Avocado egg and bacon I had a bottle of Kirin from the refrigerator in my room before sampling all the various sulfur-smelling baths. Avocado and egg on toast healthy I bathed inside, I bathed outside, and after a farewell dinner with the Canadians, found one of two private baths unoccupied, so I bathed there, too, finally alone.

These baths were in a little house, the damp wood wall that separated them open near the ceiling. Avocado and egg health benefits Two Japanese women — a mother and a daughter, I suspect — had gone into the other one as I went into mine, and I listened groggily in the near darkness to their mellifluous words and laughter, and occasional tiny splashes, as I sat in the steaming water up to my neck.

The emotions I experienced after my first trip to Japan in 2011 — and here my parents and children might want to skip ahead — were distinctly similar to those I’d experienced after losing my virginity: something I’d imagined a million times had now taken place, and while it wasn’t exactly as I’d expected, it was still pretty great, and I was now a different person. Baked avocado and egg breakfast Photo

My second trip made it all feel more real. How to use avocado and egg for hair The fantasy Japan of color woodblock prints and black-and-white movies was being replaced by the actual country. Avocado egg oven recipe Those little encounters, with the gang at the Golden Gai bar, the hiker from Indiana, the men in the baths, a friend I met for lunch at Tokyo Station on my two-day race back to Narita Airport and home, brought Japan ever so slightly into focus.

Hiroshige probably never visited the Kii Peninsula. Avocado egg and oil hair treatment In fact, recent scholarship suggests he never even traveled the length of the Tokaido, creating some of his most famous designs from guidebooks. Vegemite avocado and egg I don’t know and I don’t care: I’m certain that in those solitary moments deep in the woods, my mind free, the cedars like endless rows of sentries, as I walked a path worn smooth by pilgrims 1,400 years ago, the silence complete, enveloping, I saw him. Avocado and egg dinner IF YOU GO

Hiroshige: One Hundred Famous Views of Edo I can’t find an in-print book of the Tokaido series, but this volume features the artist’s late-career high point capturing life in Edo. Avocado and scrambled egg recipes Spectacular prints from the Brooklyn Museum. Avocado and egg yolk hair mask (George Braziller; 2000)

The Curious Casebook of Inspector HanshichiA detective in Edo-era Japan solves all sorts of strange doings. Avocado egg boat recipe Every word is wonderful. Baked egg and avocado (University of Hawaii Press; 2007)

Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche Haruki Murakami collects oral accounts of the 1995 terrorist attack. Egg and avocado recipes for breakfast As harrowing as it is riveting. Poached egg and avocado on toast (Vintage International; 2001) Movies

Travels With Hiroshi Shimizu The Japanese love of strenuous hikes during the day and languorous hot baths at night is captured in these simple black-and-white movies, all shot on location before the war. Avocado and egg hair treatment From the Criterion Collection.

Kwaidan The Kumano Trail can be spooky, and no film captures Japanese horror folklore better than this 1965 Technicolor masterpiece by Masaki Kobayashi. Avocado and egg sandwich recipes It’s even better on Blu-ray. Avocado and egg breakfast recipes From the Criterion Collection. Avocado egg yolk honey hair mask Websites

Oku Japan This company books guided and self-guided tours that really go deep into the Japanese countryside. Baked avocado with egg in the middle Even if you can’t go, their website is filled with great photography and videos.

Paul’s Travel Pics I have no idea who Paul is, but he’s a great photographer, writer and traveler, and this very detailed website acted as a crucial guide to my first trip to Japan, particularly the Nakasendo highway.