Header image for Come Walk With Me

Ridgeliners —

A week from now the big walk begins.

I’d like for you to walk it with me. A distributed, global, walk across Japan, together, during a year when it’s impossible to do so in person.

I’m starting a time-boxed newsletter called Pachinko Road. It’ll run from November 3 - 30. On Dec 1st I’ll delete the list and we’ll be done. Sign up here.

From my new essay announcing the project, “Let’s Walk Across Japan, Together”:

“Each day I’ll send out one photograph and a 200-words-or-fewer missive. It’s meant to be visual, short and punchy. A Low Impact™ email. Something you’ll be happy to peek at.”

Each day I’ll ask you for a short (think: tweet-sized) anonymous response, if you feel up for it. Just a sentence or two responding to what I sent: How you’re feeling, what you experienced on that day. Maybe even a photo of where you are in the moment. Up to you.

These responses will be captured in a spreadsheet, away from my eyes.

When I complete the walk, I’ll take a peek at them all.

Some of your messages I’ll respond to with larger essays; I’d like to take the bulk of them and put them into something shaped like a book.

If this sounds like the SMS project I ran last year, that’s because it’s very much like the SMS project! Ported to email. The SMS project was wonderful but came with a bunch of technical and financial complications. Email is less exotic, carries with it less of the unexpected or “surprise” intimacy of SMS, but is far simpler, more reliable, and cheaper.

This newsletter also telegraphs the explicit intent of turning the responses into a publicly available book. Which the SMS project didn’t do.

(I made one copy, just for me; you can see the whole thing (with responses blurred out) here. I also have a series of responses to the questions asked over SMS: Responses to SMSes Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4.)

Anyway, I hope you’ll join me! As I say: It’s meant to be VERY LOW IMPACT. I’ve been feeling the crush of Too Much Newsletter lately. This is meant to be a direct response to that: An email you’ll be delighted to peek at, knowing it asks very little of your time and attention but optimistically delivers a daily blip of adventure, at least for the short time it exists. And hopefully it can be a celebration (or escape) during the month of November which — [biggest sigh in the universe] — may be an emotionally complex month.

Kissa by Kissa Updates

We ran a members-only two-hour livestream Kissa by Kissa breakdown on Saturday. It was a blast. Thanks to everyone who showed up. The stream is archived at the original members livestream URL. (New members get access to all the archives.)

There’s only four days left in the Kissa by Kissa pre-sale (where the book is discounted $10). My printer estimates they’ll ship on November 6th and should start arriving a few days later. They come beautifully packaged, shrink wrapped, and if we get another 50 sales in the next few days, with a packet of gorgeous postcard prints. The whole set makes for a great gift (shipping box inclusive).

Since the pre-sale has crested over 300 copies, a public livestream Q&A has been unlocked. I’m running that livestream this Saturday (Oct 31) morning, 10:30am Japan Time (Friday Oct 30, 9:30PM EST, 6:30PM PST).

The URL is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4JNwdNMYp8

It should automatically put the event in your timezone. You can “Set Reminder” on that YouTube video to be pinged when it starts.

And, finally, I’m going to run a members-only packing livestream on Sunday, November 1st. It will be in the evening, Japan time (afternoon Europe, morning US). I should be totally packed for the big walk by Sunday evening so I’ll just unpack and repack on camera and we can talk through it all. I’ll mail members with the livestream information later this week.

Looking forward to this walk and these experiments. Thanks for your support.


kissa by kissa second edition cover

Fellow Walkers

There is a pond near my house. Since it has no name, I think of it as “my Walden Pond.” While I hear others talk about feeling confined and needing to have walk someplace different, I can only slightly relate. I could visit my Walden Pond every day and be okay with that. It’s never the same pond and I’m never the same person.

The other day, while walking to the pond, I saw a caterpillar making its way to the safety of the curb. Then, I saw a worm wriggling it’s way to the safety of the curb. I saw the abandoned shells of what looked like two cicadas, still desperately clinging to the safety of the curb. Life abounds and in the mornings, the insects go about their business.

Grew up in California with dog walks and semi-regular hill rambles in open space, whiled away many hours and phone calls meandering through residential neighborhoods in Minnesota for undergrad, and now I walk the circuit of my neighborhood most mornings awaiting the (re)closure of campus and dreaming of pedestrian survey in the farm fields of Greece and Italy.

(“Fellow Walkers” are short bios of the other folks subscribed to this newsletter. In Ridgeline 001 I asked: “What shell were you torn from?” and got hundreds of responses. We’re working our way through them over the year. You’re an amazing, diverse crew. Grateful to be walking with you all. Feel free to send one in if you haven’t already.)


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(A weekly letter on walking in Japan)