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The Tale of Yoshiaki

More than meets the eye

It’s 3AM on a freezing February morn in Bucharest, Romania. I stumble into my hostel,  plonk my ass down in the kitchen and begin checking my emails. I’m notice the smell of cigarette smoke. I look up and see a rather gaunt looking Asian guy at the window sill, quietly observing the streets below. He’s the first Asian backpacker I’ve seen in the Balkans. I’m curious, and decide to strike up a conversation…

“Where are you from?”

He looks confused for a moment.

“Ohh… Japan. What country you?”


“Oh Ireland. I like Guinness!”

The conversation starts from there. I offer him a beer, he offers me a cigarette. His name is Yoshiaki. He’s unshaven and looks a little grubby, but seems nice. We discuss our homelands and engage in some light hearted banter. I try to find out why he’s in Romania.

“So why did you decide to come to Romania?”

“I go China. And then..  I go… Ehh”

Struggling for the words he takes out his passport. I scan through it – China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgzstan, Uzbekistan…  The guy got around. I’m impressed and probe him further. Having just taken the Tran-Siberian Railway the summer before, I wonder if he’s taken the infamous route also…

“So how did you get here? Did you take the Train?”

“No… I walk.

“What? You walked here?”


“From where?”

“From Shanghai.”

“What!? You walked here from Shanghai?”


“What? Are you serious? When? How long have you been walking?

“Two and half year.”



Yep, by foot.

He wasn’t lying.  It turned out the guy really did walk the entire breath of Asia.  His final destination was Lisbon, Portugal. If you take his migrations south for the winter, that’s a journey of well over 12,000 km!


That’s the equivalent of walking New York to LA three times over!!!

The whole time he dragged a  small cart to carry his luggage, camping gear, water and cooking equipment. He had only spent €12,000 in that time. I’ve met some hardcore pedestrians in my time, but this guy put Forest Gump to shame.

Personally, I’d never consider something so arduous – fuck that, but I had to admire the guy. Respect. Imagine telling your grandchildren you conquered Eurasia by foot…

What one amazing thing will you be able to tell your descendants?

To quote a Japanese Proverb:

“While we consider when to begin, it becomes too late.”

Get up off your ass and do something awesome. Now.

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12 Responses to The Tale of Yoshiaki

  1. NomadicNeill March 2, 2011 at 10:13 am #

    Damn… i feel like a weakling now.

    Oh wait… inspired!!

  2. Nazir Malik March 3, 2011 at 3:13 pm #

    This is the shit I’m talking about – fellas like these are inspiring. Wanna make me quit the 9-to-5 and become a fucking nomad.

  3. Tim March 6, 2011 at 11:53 pm #

    Yea, I think that guy will have a great story; maybe he will write a book.

  4. blackdude March 7, 2011 at 6:58 am #

    YO U MUST POST MORE ABOUT THIS GUY….. where did he sleep? was he rich or something? did he just walk nonstop, or live in each spot for like a week????

    • Naughty Nomad March 7, 2011 at 7:30 am #

      He camped. He wasn’t rich, he just saved for one year! He didn’t walk non-stop. He stayed in Central Asia for the winters…

  5. Jason March 7, 2011 at 8:05 am #

    As a Japanese-American, I feel somehow proud of my (possible) affiliation with this Yoshiaki but at the same time ashamed that I would NEVER walk that to all those countries YES but not by foot.

  6. C March 14, 2011 at 12:38 am #

    that’s inspiring!

  7. Sincere April 20, 2011 at 1:26 am #

    That’s heavy. Funny, I met an Asian cat while in Ecuador that was walking from Argentina to Mexico. Talk about mental fortitude… I guess its an Asian thing.

  8. Yokohama creampie March 14, 2012 at 1:52 am #

    Hmmmmmm, have u been to tokyo?

  9. Yokohama creampie March 14, 2012 at 1:54 am #

    I’m Oirish too by the way…….


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