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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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.

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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.

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To the Summit of Mt. Akagi!

To the Summit of Mt. Akagi!

Yesterday (May 20, 2018) I climbed my first hyakumeizan peak – Mt. Akagi, in Gunma Prefecture. While many of the details will have to wait for the book (100 SUMMITS is under contract with Prometheus Books, for release in 2020) I’ll be sharing photo essays about my climbs, and some fun details about the mountains, here on the blog in the months to come.

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A Visit to the Tengu’s Seat

After visiting Musashi-Mitake Shrine, which sits on the summit of Mount Mitake, I descended the stairs to the base of the shrine and followed the path around the mountain toward the hiking trail that leads through the “Forest of the Gods.” The trail wound through a towering forest. Crows called overhead, and every once in a while they flew across my path. One even landed on a nearby branch and stared down at me as if wondering why I chose to intrude on his territory. Even though the rain had stopped several hours before, I didn’t see anyone else on the path. Aside from the crows, and

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Hiking Mount Mitake Part 2: A Path Through Shrines & Flowers

(For the story of the cable car ride up Mount Mitake, click here.) After leaving the cable car, I spent some time at the viewing platform enjoying the misty view of Tokyo.  Although the platform sits almost an hour’s walk below the summit of Mount Mitake, it still has a fantastic view. On the morning I arrived, mist swirled up from the valley and distant clouds obscured the view of central Tokyo, which lies a little over an hour by train from Mount Mitake. Even so, the view made me realize just how quickly Japanese trains can transport people from the crowded city to

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