The New Year holidays are a particularly important time in Japan. We observe a three-day New Year celebration, which officially starts on January 1.
Preparation for the holidays often starts well in advance; we give the house a thorough, deep cleaning, to ensure everything starts the new year fresh and clean. For me, that starts about a week before December 31. When I finish cleaning, I hang the New Year decorations.
September 23-24, 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 23, 2018, in the wake of a violent storm, I boarded a ferry from Wakkanai (Japan’s northernmost major port) to Rishiri Island, a three-hour trip that I hoped would end better for me than it had for the crew of Gilligan’s Island. The sun came up over the water as the ship steamed north; I watched the sunlight break through the lingering clouds and
I shot this image in 2018, on the descent from Sharidake (1,547m), a stratovolcano in Hokkaido’s Daisetsuzan National Park. It’s interesting to look back on it now, because at the time the section of trail in this photo (which is quite a bit steeper than it appears, but clearly not a difficult descent) felt really scary. At that point, I’d climbed fewer than 30 mountains, all of them in the five months leading up to this ascent. I still didn’t really know what I was doing–personally or on the trail. The key is, I did it anyway, and as a
Earlier this summer, my friend (and fellow author) Jonelle Patrick and I hopped a train to Saitama Prefecture, West of Tokyo, to visit “Resonating Life in the Acorn Forest,” the permanent TeamLab exhibition in Saitama’s Musashino Woods.
I spent much of my life wishing I was somewhere, or someone, else. I felt trapped and suffocated, and unable to break free. Breaking free from that cage took courage–but it also took the willingness to accept that I’d built myself a life that felt like a cage, and the awareness to look around and figure out what tools I had that might set me free.
Last month, I rode the shinkansen three and a half hours north from Tokyo to Yamagata Prefecture, where I hopped a bus to Zao Onsen, a hot spring resort that’s home to one of the Nihon Hyakumeizan (100 Famous Mountains of Japan) and a winter wonderland famous for volcanic hot spring baths, excellent skiing, and a unique natural phenomenon called “snow monsters.”
I love Japanese ropeways (the Japanese term for gondola lifts), and last month I checked another one off my “to-ride” list: the Akechidaira Ropeway in Nikko (Tochigi Prefecture), north of Tokyo. The ropeway sits in the mountains, not far from Lake Chuzenji in Upper Nikko, and is accessible either by car or by bus from JR Nikkō or Tobu Nikkō Station. Since my ride was actually the start of a day hike through the mountains, I hopped the bus from Tobu Nikkō station for the 30-minute ride. The only thing at the bus stop is the ropeway itself, a parking