Mt. Tomuraushi – and Pikachu!

Mt. Tomuraushi – and Pikachu!

My third and longest climb in Hokkaido was the first on my 100 Summits quest that I almost failed to complete. But it wasn’t pain or exhaustion that almost cost me the summit. On Tomuraushi, as always, time proved my worst enemy. My guide Takuto and I began our hike at 7:40 am at the trailhead near Tomuraushi Onsen, where we’d spent the night. If you read the sign, you’ll notice the peak lies 9.2km from the trailhead – and they’re not an easy nine kilometers, either. The hike begins with a lovely walk through pristine forest. It has some

Read more

To Hokkaido . . . In The Wake of the Quake

To Hokkaido . . . In The Wake of the Quake

I started planning the 100 Summits Project a year ago, and even then I knew the most difficult region of Japan in which to climb would be Hokkaido, Japan’s northernmost major island. Most of Hokkaido lies beyond the northernmost terminus of the Shinkansen (bullet train) which ends its run at Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto terminal, 1,099 kilometers from Tokyo but only at the southernmost end of Hokkaido itself. From there, it’s almost a full day’s ride by express train to the northern end of the island – and the hyakumeizan peaks are scattered across Hokkaido like a handful of dice flung down by an angry

Read more

Hiking Sangenyama, Gongenyama and Kōbōyama (Part 1)

Hiking Sangenyama, Gongenyama and Kōbōyama (Part 1)

Last week I braved the 90-degree temperatures in Kanagawa Prefecture (south of Tokyo) to continue my 100 Summits journey with a “station to station” hike that included a traverse of three different mountains: Sangenyama, Gongenyama, and Kōbōyama. Since these three peaks are separate mountains, rather than a single “compound peak,” they count as three toward my 100 Summits Project goal and bring the current total to 22. (The August heat has slowed me down, largely for safety reasons but also because I’m working on finding a long-term rental apartment, which is challenging in Japan when you have a cat! But I

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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.

Read more

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).

Read more

Climbing Mount Hakkoda – And Conquering Fear

Climbing Mount Hakkoda – And Conquering Fear

Today’s climb of Mount Hakkoda–a volcanic range located in Aomori Prefecture, just south of Aomori City–actually involved three summits: Akake-dake, Ido-dake, and finally Ōdake (the latter being the highest peak in the Hakkoda volcano group). If you’re counting, that means I actually bagged three summits today, though for hyakumeizan purposes only Ōdake counts–and it counts as one.

Read more

Climbing Mt. Iwaki

Climbing Mt. Iwaki

Today, I climbed Mt. Iwaki in Aomori Prefecture – my first Tohoku hyakumeizan. Tohoku is the northernmost part of Japan’s largest island, Honshu – the same island where Tokyo and Kyoto are located, but many hours’ travel to the north, via shinkansen (bullet train). It took me almost 7 hours to travel from Tokyo to Hirosaki, the closest town to Mt. Iwaki – four hours on a high-speed shinkansen, and another 2:45 on a local train. These mountains are spread all across Japan, which means I get to travel the entire length of the country while I’m climbing.

Read more