Wayfaring couple passes through the Columbia Valley

For Fumuaki Kodama, walking is a way of life

The oft-used quote by LaoTzu states the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. It seems Fumuaki Kodama has taken that quote to heart. He has traveled the globe, always as simply as putting one step in front of the other.

For Fumuaki, walking is a way of life. His first major undertaking was 2,500 kilometres through Western Europe, followed soon after by South America, New Zealand, and Australia.

When he decided to tackle the journey through his home country of Japan, he met Ayumi. The two fell in love and Ayumi, who had loyally worked at the same company for 17 years, quit her job, packed her backpack and joined Fumuaki on his grand adventure. The two ended their Japanese trek in Fumuaki’s hometown, where they got married before walking 700 kilometres of Taiwan together.

Now, the wayfaring couple is traversing Canada. Their general route is along the TransCanada trail, aiming to reach Winnipeg before winter where they plan to fly to South America to walk out the cold-Canada winter months before continuing through Canada next spring.

Fumuaki and Ayumi set off from Victoria four months ago, winding their way through the province. They passed through the Columbia Valley last week, taking about a week to go from Skookumchuk to Radium, including a couple rest days along the way.

While language barriers made an in-depth interview challenging, the Pioneer was able to catch up with the couple as they walked their way into Radium Hot Springs and discover more about this interesting couple and their journey.

When asked what they have seen of note so far, Ayumi said she likes looking at the houses, the scenery and the variety of bugs along the way. Fumuaki loves the people they come across.

Their only rule crossing Canada is to go by foot. They have occasionally taken a ride to pick up groceries, but get dropped off where they left off to continue on foot, with blisters to show for the effort.

They have met many kind and helpful people along the way, including a man in Fairmont Hot Springs who gave them a bundle of food good for hiking, others who have carried their bags for them to meet-up points. In the Fraser Valley, a local sports storeowner gave them a sturdy food bag to hang from a tree while camping to help prevent bear-attracting smells. A campground owner gave them free accommodations another night.

So far, they’ve seen seven bears and admit the first time was very scary. They’ve also had chance encounters with hikers as they tried to bathe, officers who redirected them on a closed-off route, a dental emergency that rerouted them temporarily back to Vancouver, and a scenery-filled journey each step of the way.

Some lost-in-translation moments so far have included buying what they thought was jam, but turned into small packets of honey mustard.

“It’s weird,” Fumuaki said of their new sandwich spread.

Ayumi explained in halting English they chose Canada for their estimated two-year journey because it is a safe, English-speaking country.

The Kodamas say their impressions of Canada so far are good.

“Canada is so big,” exclaims Ayumi. “Nature is so wide and huge.”

Their impressions of the Valley were positive, citing the “gorgeous” hot springs they enjoyed in Fairmont and the “beautiful lake” in Invermere.

The couple, in good spirits after a full morning of walking alongside the highway, were pleased to be in Radium, where they planned to spend a short time enjoying the car show and resting before making their way to Banff.

Fumuaki has a blog for their journey, which shows his 21,400 kilometres walked around the world in 20 years. To follow the couple’s journey, including a link to some home videos of the trip, see https://arukibito.fumi.wordpress.com.

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