The Tō-ji Cherry Blossom Illumination in Kyoto (Tō-ji, Part 3 of 3)

The Tō-ji Cherry Blossom Illumination in Kyoto (Tō-ji, Part 3 of 3)

n April 2019, while finishing the 100 mountain climbs that became the basis for CLIMB, I visited Kyoto with my friend (and fellow author) Laura VanArendonk Baugh. By chance, our day in the ancient capital coincided with the final nights of the annual sakura (cherry blossom) illumination at Tō-ji, the UNESCO World Heritage temple that also happens to be one of Kyoto’s oldest sacred sites.

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Visiting Tō-ji: a Temple Tied to Kyoto’s Ancient Past (Part 1 of 3)

Visiting Tō-ji: a Temple Tied to Kyoto’s Ancient Past (Part 1 of 3)

In 794, Kyoto (then renamed Heian-kyo) became the capital of Japan. At that time, the official entrance to the city was in the south (the direction visitors came when approaching from the former capital of Nara). A pair of guardian temples stood on either side of the entrance, at the start of an enormous, broad, flat road that led from the official city entrance all the way to the Imperial Palace in the northern part of the city.

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Hiking the Jogasaki Coast: Picnical Course

Hiking the Jogasaki Coast: Picnical Course

The Izu Peninsula juts into the Pacific Ocean south of Tokyo. The northeast portion of the peninsula is called the Jogasaki Coast (城ヶ崎海岸 – Jogasaki Kaigan), and it’s home to a pair of excellent hiking courses that run through portions of the Izu Peninsula Geopark. It’s a great hike at any time of year, but particularly in the summer, when the coastal breeze helps mitigate the heat and humidity.

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Hiking Marudake From Otome-Toge (Hakone)

Hiking Marudake From Otome-Toge (Hakone)

Earlier this month, I took advantage of a sunny Sunday and headed out to hike another “new-to-me” trail in Hakone: Marudake (1,154 m) via Otome-Toge. As always, the hike information is at the bottom of the post. I caught the highway bus from Shinjuku to Otome-toge; the route goes through Gotemba–where I caught a great view of Mt. Fuji–always an excellent way to start the day. I’ve hiked the first part of this trail several times, and the view from the Otome-toge bus stop is one of the best anywhere when Fuji is in a cooperative mood. She was a

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CHAPTER 29: Lake Akan & Meakan

CHAPTER 29: Lake Akan & Meakan

Although I originally planned for Hokkaido Nature Tours to provide me with only transport and guides for the climbs of Hokkaido’s hyakumeizan peaks, the company’s founder, Ido Gabay, constructed my itinerary in a way that not only maximized my chances of success (an important consideration, given my aggressive timeframe) but transformed the necessary “rest and travel days” into opportunities to experience much more of Hokkaido than I dared to hope for.

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CHAPTER 28: Takuto & Tomuraushi

CHAPTER 28: Takuto & Tomuraushi

September 13-14, 2018 This photo supplement tracks the events in CLIMB: Leaving Safe and Finding Strength on 100 Summits in Japan. The captions offer “extra features” that didn’t make it into the book. Due to straining my knee on Tokachidake, I ended up canceling the next day’s scheduled climb of Poroshiri–which meant I absolutely would not be able to complete all 100 Hyakumeizan peaks in a single year. I’d already decided to shift the goalpost, however, and climb 100 historically and culturally important/sacred mountains instead, so the loss meant less to me than it otherwise would have. After a rest day, which

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CHAPTER 27: Tokachidake

CHAPTER 27: Tokachidake

September 11, 2018 This photo supplement tracks the events in CLIMB: Leaving Safe and Finding Strength on 100 Summits in Japan. The captions offer “extra features” that didn’t make it into the book. On the morning of September 11, my Hokkaido Nature Tours guide (who I’d christened the Yamabushi) and I drove approximately 200 kilometers from Sapporo to Daisetsuzan National Park in Central Hokkaido–home to some of the tallest mountains in Hokkaido, including our target for the day: 2,077-meter Tokachidake (Mt. Tokachi). What look like “normal” cumulus clouds in the photo above are actually clouds of smoke and steam rising from the

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