New Article! "The Way to the North Sea: Teuri Island" at MatadorTravel.com
"For two years I lived in Hokkaido, the northernmost of Japan’s four islands, a place Jack Kerouac once called a wasteland of the world. Of course, Kerouac never actually crossed the Pacific to see Hokkaido for himself, and if he had, he would have found the sort of place he loved - frontier country, split by open highways and empty rails, with brown bears in the mountains and salmon rushing up the river-mouths.
Japan’s wasted lands lie to the south, where the bullet train blasts through sterile encrustations of square apartments and glass-walled office buildings, where salary men and their Louis Vuitton wives live walled in from the world, divorced from Shinto traditions of intimacy with land. For decades engineers and politicians have planned to extend the bullet train to Hokkaido, but for now the North Sea Road is still wild at the fringe.
I want to tell you about my favorite place in Hokkaido, although now that I think about it, Teuri Island isn’t part of Hokkaido at all. It’s a smudge on the horizon off Highway 233, a rock in the Sea of Japan on the way to Vladivostok. Over a million seabirds breed on Teuri each summer, clinging to nesting-cliffs raucous with joy. “There’s fish to eat and babies to make,” the birds scream. “We’re here, we’re alive! Here and alive!' "
Click here to read the rest of the article (and learn where to find the best sea urchin roe in Japan).