Driving through the mountains between Furano and Sapporo after sunset was harrowing.

For more than an hour – it felt like eternity – I sat tense and upright on the edge of the seat with my hands gripping the wheel. Whenever I spotted the faint outline of a yellow board in the distance, I would stick out my head like a tortoise, squinting hard to make out which direction the arrow pointed in.

All the while reminding myself to keep us alive and not drive the car over the edge. I am probably being dramatic, but, hey, I have little experience driving on winding mountain roads. Much less doing so in the dark with barely any streetlights along the way.

In the rear mirror was a trail of yellow lights. Big, medium and small Japanese cars stuck behind me, weaving round the mountains like a snake. Whenever there was a straight stretch of road, one of the drivers behind would step on the accelerator, leaving me and the other cars in the dust.

If only there were some spots where I could pull over so that some cars could overtake. Actually, there were a few. But because I was going at 60km/h (over the limit of 5okm/h) in semi-darkness, I would spot them only as I was driving by…

When we eventually emerged from the mountains, the cars broke the single-line formation, zipping across the wide multi-lane expressway before their lights disappeared into the distance.

We made it.

P.S. This photo was taken at the top of Mount Furano with my Canon rangefinder hours before we were to make our way through the winding roads beneath and beyond.

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