Taking a Cat to Japan – Part 1

Taking a Cat to Japan – Part 1

Our decision to spend a year in Japan for the #100Summits Project depended, in part, on our ability to take our cat, Oobie, along on the journey. My husband and I believe that “pets are for life” and we wouldn’t have dreamed of leaving her behind. However, since Japan is a rabies-free country, entry requirements for pets are strict (see also: “draconian” – but with good reason) and it took us almost a year to ensure that Oobie could enter without undergoing extended quarantine.

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Climbing Shiroyama

Yesterday I climbed Shiroyama, 562-meter peak in Yugawara, Kanagawa Prefecture–the 19th mountain of my #100Summits Project here in Japan. The mountain takes its name from the castle that once sat atop its peak. (“Shiroyama” means “Castle Mountain” in Japanese.) Although only scattered ruins and a monument on the summit remain to mark the spot today, during the 12th century Yugawara (then called Doi-go) and its castle were home to the Doi samurai clan.

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A Visit to Zao Fox Village (Fukushima, Japan)

A Visit to Zao Fox Village (Fukushima, Japan)

In between climbing mountains for the #100Summits project, I’m also visiting sites of cultural and historical significance across Japan. Yesterday, my husband and I hopped a shinkansen (bullet train) to Fukushima Prefecture–a little less than 250 kilometers–to visit one of Japan’s most unusual sanctuary/zoos: Zao Fox Village. As the name suggests, the park is a combination zoo and sanctuary for foxes (known as “kitsune” in Japan). Among Japan’s most honored creatures, kitsune are considered messengers of Inari Okami, one of the most important deities in the Shintō pantheon.

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An Afternoon in Kamakura

An Afternoon in Kamakura

With temperatures in Tokyo soaring to near record-breaking levels, I’ve taken a few days off from my #100Summits climbs (though the adventure continues this weekend . . . so stay tuned!). Since my husband hasn’t seen much of Japan, we decided to spend this afternoon in Kamakura–a coastal city southwest of Tokyo that served as the political center of Japan during the Kamakura Period (1185-1333), when Japan was ruled by the Minamoto shoguns. Although my mystery novels are set in the 16th century–long after Kamakura ceased to function as a center of Japanese culture and government–I love this ancient city, and

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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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Celebrating The Unexpected

Celebrating The Unexpected

When traveling, I try to remember that closed itineraries–like closed fists–are unable to catch an unexpected blessing. Although I plan my travel in advance in fairly great detail, when I’m actually traveling I try to remain alert to the opportunities for spontaneous experiences, and to take advantage of them when I can. As a result, I get to enjoy the unexpected opportunities and sites that come my way. Here are just a few from the last week’s travels:

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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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