Spirit of the Mountains

Back in the summer last year, in preparation of my initial foray into Yamanashi ken, I treated myself to a new hiking T-shirt from the Beerhound hiking boutique of choice, Mont Bell; a high-performance breathable, diaphanous bit of hiking haute-couture, designed for tackling the stifling heat of a Japanese summer without looking like you’ve just…

A parting of trails

Life is a journey; we all follow our own personal trail but we are joined along the way by others. Some of those companions are with us for only a short time. Some walk with us for what seems like an eternity. But sooner or later, our trails will part. And when they do, it’s…

A trail less trodden

For relative hiking novices such as myself, most of our time is spent following  well-trodden trails. On pretty much on every expedition, far more capable hikers than I have broken trail and documented their experiences to help those that follow after. Great English language blogs such as Ridgeline Images, Climb Japan and Hiking in Japan,…

Encounter with the Snowmonsters – Part 1

I’ve always liked science fiction. My formative years were populated by the Daleks of Skaro, The Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal, Cybermen, Vogons, Vulcans and a whole galaxy of others. In fact, I’d always considered myself no slouch when it comes to identifying alien life forms. Which was why, when my mate T enquired whether…

What can we learn from a grain of sand?

No matter how carefully sand is raked, it will change, dissolve and disappear. This is also true of the backdrop against which our lives are performed. Life is impermanence. People, places, material possessions, good times, bad times: Everything changes. But this too, of course, is the nature of sand. Without its fluidity and ability to…

The Three Famous Peaks of Okutama: 3- Gozenyama

My aim of hiking the three famous peaks of Okutama – Odake, Mitoh and Gozenyama hadn’t quite come to fruition by the time Oshogatsu time came around. But after recharging my batteries over Xmas and the New Year – and armed with my new toy, a Garmin e-Trex20, compliments of Santa – by the first…

The Three Famous Peaks of Okutama 2: Mt Mito

The second of the Three Famous Mountains of Okutama is Mt Mito –  pronounced with a long “oh” sound. The most westerly of the three peaks, Mitoh san rises to 1531m. The summit actually has three peaks, and the name “mitoh” refers to the three “heads” of the mountain. The west peak is perhaps the…

First signs of Spring and a new perspective

Tokyo awoke this morning to a light sprinkling of snow. The sugar-coated trees and houses that provided the backdrop for this morning’s jog around the park reminded me that winter is yet to loosen its grip on us. And yet all around, signs of life are beginning to appear once more and it really won’t…

The Three Famous Peaks of Okutama – 1: Mt Odake

With advancing years, time seems to whip past ever quicker and I often find myself thinking “Where has that time gone?” Looking back on 2015 I feel it just flashed past without me having a chance to actually do anything. But on reflection, while Oze eluded me, I did actually manage to get out on…

The tree of life gives hope to us all

Hiking alone around the Japanese mountains gives one plenty of opportunity for rumination and general navel-gazing. I guess in a way that’s part of the attraction – getting away from the normal hubbub and allowing the mind some space to step back and take stock. Yesterday I had a very agreeable few hours exploring the…

A flame that has burned for seventy years

Seventy years ago today, a single US plane flew a lonely mission to drop a single bomb on a Japanese city. That city was Hiroshima. What fell from a clear blue sky at 8:15 that morning changed the world forever. We recently visited Hiroshima as part of our 10th Anniversary celebratory trip to Japan’s Inland…

What’s so great about Japan?

When I travel back to Europe and I meet with someone who finds out that I live in Japan, the inevitable first question is along the lines of “What do you like about Japan?” It’s a question I have fielded hundreds of times, and to be honest I tend now to try and just skip…