Climbing Mount Inari (Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto)

Climbing Mount Inari (Fushimi Inari Shrine, Kyoto)

Yesterday morning, I completed the second non-solo ascent of my 100 Summits Project: Mount Inari (Fushimi Inari Taisha) in Kyoto. The day before, I traveled from Tokyo to Kyoto via shinkansen (bullet train) with my mother, stepdad, and family friends Laurie and Kaitlyn Bolland (as well as my son) to begin several days of hiking and R&R in advance of our planned ascent of Mt. Fuji later this week. (While the weather may not cooperate on Fuji, we’re hoping the predicted storms pass by and we get the chance to climb.)

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Climbing Mt. Hiei (Kyoto, Japan)

Climbing Mt. Hiei (Kyoto, Japan)

Although my original 100 SUMMITS project involved climbing “only” the nihon hyakumeizan, a lot of Japan’s most famous, sacred, and beautiful mountains did not make the “Hundred Famous Mountains” list. Since I’m in Japan for the purpose of learning and experiencing as well as climbing, I’ve decided not to limit myself to hyakumeizan peaks. If there’s an important mountain in the area, I’ll try to climb it, too. The first of these “bonus mountains” was sacred Mt. Hiei, in Otsu (just outside Kyoto). 

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Bentendake – The Women’s Summit of Koyasan

Bentendake – The Women’s Summit of Koyasan

Since Mt. Adatara still has radiation levels too high for a safe post-cancer climb, I substituted Bentendake, on Koyasan, for the Adatara hyakumeizan climb. (The peaks are within a few meters of one another in height, with Bentendake measuring slightly higher.)   And since my newest Hiro Hattori mystery novel, TRIAL ON MOUNT KOYA, is set on Koyasan, I climbed Bentendake last Tuesday (July 3, 2018) – the day the book released into the world. In a twist of poetic irony, I arrived on Koyasan just hours ahead of a massive storm – precisely the way my detectives, master ninja Hiro Hattori

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Release Day For TRIAL ON MOUNT KOYA!

Today is release day for the newest Hiro Hattori mystery, TRIAL ON MOUNT KOYA! Every book I write becomes my new favorite, and this one is no exception. I consider KOYA my dual love letter to Agatha Christie’s AND THEN THERE WERE NONE (one of my favorite books, growing up) and one of Japan’s most sacred peaks.

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Climbing Mount Daisen – Hyakumeizan #13

Climbing Mount Daisen – Hyakumeizan #13

Yesterday (Saturday, June 30) I traveled from Tokyo to Mount Daisen – a distance of almost 750 km – to prepare for this morning’s climb of Mount Daisen. It rained all afternoon, but the weather forecast suggested a two-day clear weather window approaching, and I wanted to be in position when it arrived. I spent the night at a lovely, welcoming temple – Sanraku-so – which sits immediately adjacent to Daisen-ji, at the base of Mount Daisen. Although I fell asleep listening to the wind howl around the temple, I awoke to a spectacular sunrise/moonset that promised a beautiful climbing day.

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Mount Omine – and Tenkawa Gorge – Hyakumeizan #10

Mount Omine – and Tenkawa Gorge – Hyakumeizan #10

After my rainy climb of Mount Ibuki, I hopped a train to Kyoto, and then an hour south to Nara Prefecture (the home of the ancient capital city of Nara, but also many even more ancient historical sites – as well as mountains). The following morning, I traveled even farther south, to  Dorogawa Onsen (an onsen is a Japanese hot spring resort) and Omine-san, one of Japan’s most sacred peaks. It remains so sacred, in fact, that women are not allowed to climb it.

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Mount Ibuki – Hyakumeizan #9

Mount Ibuki – Hyakumeizan #9

This morning, I braved the rain in Nagahama (just north of Kyoto) to attempt a climb of my ninth hyakumeizan, Ibukiyama (Mount Ibuki: 伊吹山). At 1,377 meters, Ibukiyama is the highest mountain in Shiga Prefecture, and one of four hyakumeizan in the Kanto region. The climb started inauspiciously – with pouring rain – and my first sight of the mountain towering high above the surrounding plain gave me more than a little pause. Even so, I was already on the bus to the trailhead, and my research suggested the mountain would not be too difficult to climb in the rain.

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Zao, Kumano, Jizo, and the Sixth of the Hundred Summits

Zao, Kumano, Jizo, and the Sixth of the Hundred Summits

On Tuesday, I completed my sixth hyakumeizan – 1,841-meter Mt. Zaō in Yamagata Prefecture. As a complex volcano, Zaō-san has many peaks, the highest of which is actually Kumano-dake (hence the name on the summit sign in the photo). As the most active volcano in the Tohoku region of northern Honshu, Zao continually emits volcanic gases (and the summit smells of sulfur).

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Snow on Mount Hachimantai (Hyakumeizan #5)

Snow on Mount Hachimantai (Hyakumeizan #5)

On Monday afternoon (Japan time), I climbed my fifth hyakumeizan — Mount Hachimantai, in Iwate Prefecture. The mountain sits in Towada-Hachimantai National Park, about 2 hours by bus from Morioka City. For reasons I’ll discuss in more detail in my book, 100 SUMMITS (Prometheus Books, 2020), I opted to ride the bus to the “Hachimantai Summit” visitor center, which sits only about a 45 minute hike from the mountain’s actual summit.

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