Sunday, 10 August 2014

Unfinished business

I started thinking about walking the Nikko Kaido (labeled B in the graphic below) in October 2010, soon after returning to Christchurch from walking the Koshu Kaido. I had already walked the Nakasendo (in 2007) and the Tokaido (in 2009), and it had become my goal to walk the remaining two gokaido (the five "highways" connecting Tokyo with the provinces in the Edo period) over the next few years.

On 22 February 2011, Christchurch was hit by a magnitude 6.3 earthquake, resulting in 185 deaths (including 28 Japanese) and widespread damage to buildings and infrastructure across the city. Mrs Fool and I escaped uninjured, but our house, already badly damaged in the September 2010 earthquake, was further damaged and deemed unrepairable. And so began our long battle, familiar to so many people in Christchurch, with EQC and our insurance company to receive the compensation we were entitled to.

The very next month, on 11 March 2011, the Tohoku region of Japan was struck by a massive magnitude 9.0 earthquake and tsunami. The death toll currently stands at over fifteen thousand, with 2612 people still listed as "missing." The tsunami engulfed the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, triggering the largest nuclear accident since the Chernobyl disaster and leading to the evacuation of some 300,000 people.

In the wake of these two disasters, I put out of my mind any thoughts of walking the Nikko Kaido. It didn't seem right to leave Mrs Fool and go off on a solo walk while our insurance claim remained unsettled, and although Nikko (which is some 140 kilometres southwest of Fukushima) was unaffected by the earthquake and tsunami, the fate of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant was uncertain, and I was nervous about walking anywhere near it as long as there was even a hint of a threat from radiation.

Fast-forward to 2014. Mrs Fool and I have settled with our insurance company and moved into a new house. The old house has been demolished and the land is up for sale. In Japan, while the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster is far from resolved, and while radiation continues to leak into the ocean, the threat of the widespread release of radiation into the air appears to have abated, and I feel "relaxed" about walking from Tokyo to Nikko.

And so in October this year I plan to walk the Nikko Kaido. At a mere 147 kilometres, it's less than a third the length of the Tokaido and Nakasendo and more than 60 kilometres shorter than the Koshu Kaido. I plan to do the walk in a week, averaging 21 kilometres a day. My flights are booked, as is a hotel room at Kinugawa Onsen, a hot spring resort not far from Nikko where I intend to spend a couple of days recuperating before heading back to Tokyo (by train).

I leave in just over two months. I'm far from fit. I have a dodgy groin, a dodgy kidney, and dodgy toenails. I will be 53 years old in October. Will I make it to the finishing line in Nikko? Will I even make it to the starting line in Tokyo? Stay tuned for more!


Stephanie said...

NIce to see you back, Mr Fool! Exciting news!

Anonymous said...

Yes. Yes.

Jacqueline Blake said...

You have an achievable plan so you are nearly there. I look forward to reading your posts.
PS Joan Armatrading coming to Brisbane in December

Walking fool said...

Thanks Jacqui. Yes, Joan is coming here, too. Not playing at the town hall this time, though.