Celebrating the Lights of November

A 5-hour walk from Hongodai to Kannai

By Reynald Ventura    - 3 min read

The German filmmaker, Werner Herzog, had a dictum about walking: ‘The world reveals itself to the traveler on foot.’ When I heard the famous director in an interview on YouTube, I smiled. I couldn’t agree with him more. Probably, the award-winning creator of ‘Aguirre, the Wrath of God,’ and ‘Fitzcarraldo,’ got his inspiration from the poet-traveler Basho Matsuo.

Inspired by these two fine gentlemen of the past and the present, I decided one Sunday in November to go for a long walk. I had two specific reasons: I wanted to celebrate and capture the lights and colors of November; secondly, I wanted to discover places that I have already seen many times from the train but never on foot.

I decided on the approximate distance/route: from Hongodai to Kannai. From station to station, on the Keihin Tohoku Line, it would take about twenty minutes or so; eight stops away. For many years, I’ve used this line and I’m quite familiar with the scenery along the railways. But I have always wondered what it would look like if I travelled on foot and covered the same distance. What would I encounter and discover?

From Miharashi Bashi, near Hongodai Station where I live, I hit the Kanjo sangoh sen Route and walked uphill towards Konandai. I didn’t have a map with me and didn’t use Google Maps. I just relied on the road signs and followed the logic of the road. When I reached Yokodai at about 1.00 pm, I felt hungry. I had not had anything but a big mug of cafe au lait in the morning. Thus, at the first sight of a ramen restaurant with a wabi-sabi facade, I didn’t think twice. I got in and ordered miso ramen and a plate of gyoza; I slurped the noodles with leisure and chewed the dumplings slowly; I enjoyed every bit of them. After all, it was my first meal of the day.

Careful not to upset my stomach, I trod down the road with slowness toward Sugita, Isogo, Negishi, Ishikawacho, and finally Kannai.

Along the way, at every opportunity, I was taking pictures. I was taking time to celebrate and capture the autumn light and beauty. I was having fun. The slower the walk, the deeper the discovery, I thought.

Although I started walking around the neighborhood in the morning, I left home at 12:05 and arrived at Isezakicho shopping district at sunset, at 5:20 p.m. I didn’t feel tired. I was just thirsty. I popped in at a Kaldi store and grabbed some cheese and a Belgian beer. I sipped it under the evening shade of a katsura (Japanese Judas tree); the beer was the sweetest I’ve ever had during the pandemic.

It was an easy walk: no slippery paths, no steep and rugged slopes, no leeches and insects, no rickety bridge to cross, no brambles and thorns to annoy you. There were not any challenges and struggles. All you needed was a good pair of legs. But it was an exhilarating walk. The sense of discovery and the pleasure of searching for and recording this best autumn light was invigorating. And I promised to myself, I’d go for another long walk again at another time and place.

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Reynald Ventura

Reynald Ventura @reynald.ventura

I have a little garden: slightly bigger than the forehead of a cat. I grow herbs: parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme, and mint, and lemon grass, and lavender, and basil. Occasionally, I cook for myself. Sometimes, my Japanese wife and my daughter like my cooking. I come from the Philippines – it is said that there are more than seven thousand islands but I do not own one. I’d love to, though. I always carry a camera with me – in my walks, journeys, and wanderings. Most of the time, I’m home – staring at Fujisan and writing something.