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Issue 70

Zen Hiker

[ Guest ]
Kon Ito


Editor’s Letter


Land of the Long Trail


A ‘long walk’ revolution is upon us. Hikers, and travelers around the world are no longer flocking to the highest peaks in order to complete checklists but instead are seeking out mindful explorations along ‘long trails’. And while many Japanese hikers still set out to hike the world’s most prestigious long trails, such as the Pacific Crest Trail, The Te Araroa Trail and the Camino de Santiago Long Walk; many of these advent walkers and travelers are just beginning to discover the abundance of long trails found here in Japan the ‘land of the long trail’.

My definition of a long trail is a path that takes at least three days to walk and touches both on the natural and cultural surroundings of a given location. Japan is unique in its wide variation of long trails. Some trails were created with the practical need to transport people and goods. These roads include the Kyu Tokaido Trail and Nakasendo Routes, The Saba Kaido, and Japan’s most ancient trail the Yamanobe Road. Other roads were originated by ramblers such as the poet Matsuo Basho’s ‘Oku no Hosomichi’ stretching from Tokyo to the Tohoku region and still others by outlaws such as Sakamoto Ryoma’s ‘Dappan no Michi’. A new category of Japanese long trail routes mimics the recreational routes found overseas and blends these with distinctly Japanese details. Trails in this category include the Amatomi Trail and the Michinoku Coastal Trail as well as an upcoming trail that I’m personally designing called the Katsuo Trail. And last in Japan’s mighty inventory of Long Trails are the Pilgrimage Trails. These are the oldest routes and include such trails as the Kumano Kodo Route and the Shikoku Pilgrimage Route which we have named the ‘Zen Trail’ in an effort to brand the trail for modern UL hikers and Adventure Travelers.

In this issue Papersky along with Poet, Ito Kon walked The Zen Trail, a unique ‘loop trail’ spanning 1200km and created 1250 years ago by Buddhist monk Kukai (Kobo Daishi). The trail connects 88 temples as check points on the hikers symbolic path towards enlightenment. Each of the four prefectures that the trail transcends represents a journey (Tokushima = Awakening / Kochi = Training / Ehime = Enlightenment / Kagawa = Nirvana) that the ‘Zen Hiker’ must take before reaching their final nirvana.

The trail combines all the aspects of traditional trail hiking – stunning nature and physical challenges along with a deep exploration of Japanese gastronomy, history and local culture allowing the long trail traveler to take home in their hearts and minds a bit of ‘real Japan’ and a more spiritually fulfilled self.



PAPERSKY Soundtrack For Travelers
Shikoku Edition

A list of Songs to enjoy over a cup of coffee, while driving, and of course while flipping through the pages of the SHIKOKU edition of Papersky.

Selected by:
Kenji Hatogai (BAGN Inc.)

  1. BALLAD OF THE LIGHTS / Arthur Russell, The Flying Hearts & Allen Ginsberg
  2. UTOPIA & VISIONS / Calm
  3. HARE KRISHNA / Alice Coltrane
  4. BODHISATTVA VOW / Beastie Boys
  5. FLAGS OF THE WORLD / The Zenmenn
  6. PEACE OF MIND / Shakti
  7. RED LIGHT / Gaussian Curve
  8. WATER PLANET / Hiroshi Yoshimura
  9. HONEY MOON / Haruomi Hosono
  10. HANNAH SONG / Sam Wilkes


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