Mie, Japan
I grew up in Mie prefecture in Japan. The area is abundant in mythology, especially regarding death and reviving. The gods in the area were believed to accept anybody, without regards to status or gender. People have been visiting sacred sites for over 1000 years.

Yakiyama (Mt. Yaki) is my favorite hiking destination near my hometown. It is a misty, spooky place (with bear warnings!) but also beautiful. It is easy to imagine ancient people felt awe in the environment. I have had many striking moments while hiking. One case, I was alone on the peak after taking a wrong turn and walking a few extra miles. The weather had been threatening and wet all day-giving me a bit of anxiety as the forest was so dark. However, after the rain, I was rewarded with a misty and magical sight. The trail has been used as a part of the ancient pilgrimage routes and skillfully paved with rocks. You can find chisel marks on some of the larger rocks. Also, there are numerous abandoned charcoal kilns along the trail. Many pilgrims died evidenced by some tombstones. My paintings of Yakiyama scenes reflect my contemplation on the ancient people who travelled these paths before me.

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