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Nonfiction writer Yusuke Kakuhata has left for the Canadian Arctic to attempt to trace the route of explorer Sir John Franklin, who disappeared in the mid-19th century along with the other 128 members of his expedition.
The Franklin expedition's disappearance in the summer of 1845 occurred in the midst of a competition to find the Northwest Passage, the shortest maritime route between Europe and Asia. The tragedy is regarded as the worst in the history of Arctic exploration.
"I plan to search for the remains of members of the expedition, which disappeared in such mysterious circumstances," Kakuhata said.
Kakuhata, 35, received last year's Takeshi Kaiko nonfiction award for his book, "Kuhaku no Go Mairu" (five miles of nothing), which describes his exploration of untrodden areas in Tsangpo Canyon deep in Tibet. This time, he will challenge new boundaries in exploring the Canadian Arctic.
He plans to cross 1,600 kilometers between the hamlet of Resolute and Lake Baker, an area where Franklin's ships became trapped in ice and members of the expedition were forced to try to reach safety on foot.
Kakuhata hopes to cross the area on foot and by ski over a three-month period. He will be accompanied by Yasunaga Ogita, 33, a friend who has experience traveling in the Arctic.
Formerly a newspaper reporter, Kakuhata places importance not only on tough adventurous journeys but also in careful research.
He is expected to be incommunicado for much of his journey as he is not carrying a computer or satellite cell phone.
"If I can communicate, it won't be a real adventure. I want to experience the extreme situations the lost team faced and will solve any problems through trial and error," he said.
Kakuhata said he is seeking the answer to the question: What does it mean to travel through an unexplored land?