The bicycle touring experience is more a jagged path than an itinerary. That’s really all there is to it, a scratch in the terrain, a maze through a city, a line on a map. I love maps, not least for what they represent—the unknown. Then there’s the aesthetic value: the texture of the paper, the colour, the topographical description. I use maps all the time, and not just for direction. In foreign places the map is a communicative tool, sometimes the only means of communication. An explanation, a story, a history lesson, a riddle, an encounter, a friendship, a memory, maps represent much.
Hand drawn maps, like handwriting, are as varied and unique as their authors. They can be messy, illegible, creative, or precise. Here’s a selection of scribbles, many by strangers, that have assisted me during my time in Japan.