On December 31, 2018, I climbed Mt. Tsukuba – at 871 and 877 meters, its peaks are among the smallest of the Nihon Hyakumeizan (100 famous mountains of Japan) but the peak itself has important links to the Japanese creation myths, as well as a “rivalry” against Mt. Fuji (which Fujisan may or may not be aware of). Read more
Tokyo has a variety of holiday-themed options, from spectacular illuminations to Bavarian Christmas markets. One of my favorites takes place throughout the month of December in the fourth floor courtyard at Solamachi Skytree Center (Access: Hanzomon or Asakusa line to Oshiage Station, and exit to Skytree Center). I’m spending the next few weeks in Tokyo, hoping my ankle heals from the recent sprain-or-tendonitis that struck shortly before my 100-km trek along the Kumano Kodo (more on that in the weeks to come) – but it’s a good time to heal. You see, although most Japanese people practice Shintō, Buddhism, or both, Japan loves
I’ve just returned from a 7-day, 98-km hike along the Kumano Kodo, a group of pilgrimage trails through Japan’s Wakayama Prefecture. Pilgrims of all social classes, from retired emperors and samurai to Buddhist nuns and priests, have traveled these mountainous trails on foot for more than 1,000 years.
Japanese people have many customs that may seem strange or unusual to Western visitors, many of which are easy to admire and enjoy. One of my favorites is the custom of welcome tea, still practiced by most ryokan (traditional inns) and temple lodgings, as well as traditional shops and businesses.*
We don’t technically celebrate American Thanksgiving in Japan (although the country observes “Labor Thanksgiving” this coming Friday, in recognition of all Japanese workers’ efforts and the products they produce). However, gratitude is never out of season, and although you can take the girl out of the United States, you’ll probably never completely take the U.S. holidays out of this particular girl. In recognition of which, I’m thinking about all the things I’m grateful for this week.
I’ve been climbing my way through the autumn, and simultaneously working on the next Hiro Hattori mystery (tentatively titled Ghost of the Bamboo Grove), and it occurred to me that I’ve been a bit remiss in my blogging updates. Whoops . . . The summit count currently stands at 43 – a respectable almost-halfway total, though the coming snow will present some challenges moving forward.
When I talk with people about writing blogs (either regular blogs or periodic guest blogs) one of the most frequent questions I hear is “where do you find good copyright-released images for your posts?” In my case, the answer is always: on my computer and my phone. And, in the case of the squid chips pictured above, in the local Tokyo 7-11 . . . but I digress.
The 100 Summits Project has taught me many things–most of which, I’m saving for the book, but a few of these lessons bear repeating here, as well as in the larger story. Case in point: the snail’s pace. I saw this lovely fellow climbing down a wall on Mt. Daimonji, in Kyoto, about a week ago.
Yesterday saw the addition of three more peaks to my #100Summits list, thanks to a traverse of two peaks and a gondola-assisted climb of a third in the Hakone area. While I’ll give more details about the later two climbs in the weeks to come, today I’m sharing a little about the first, which also involved research for my next Hiro Hattori mystery (the first one to involve a ghost).
Anyone who climbs mountains regularly knows that the climber gets to plan, and to attempt, but the mountain has a say–if not a deciding voice–in whether or not you stand upon its peak. In some cases, that also goes for whether or not you even see the summit.