Outdoor Japan TRAVELER - Issue 49 - Autumn 2013
Enjoy the Autumn 2013 issue of Outdoor Japan Traveler magazine. Every season is a new adventure our autumn issue is filled with outdoor adventures and travelers tales. Get out there!
AUTU MN 2 013 ISSUE 49 Rocks! Japan Rock Stars Take on Hokkaido Autumn Into the Ryukyu Blue The Heart of Shinshu The Warm Faces of Colombia L OU GO EXPLO RE YOUR S SET ACTION ■ ADVENTURE ■ TRAVEL ■ OUTDOORS ISSUE 49 - AUTUMN 2013 CONTENTS 10 12 42 56 FEATURES Race Reports: Xterra Japan & Ironman Japan Akiyo Noguchi completes the first female onsight of Esaoman. Q&A: Timo Meyer By Robert Self Cover photo by Eddie Gianelloni OUTDOOR JAPAN TRAVELER Published Seasonally Publisher Outdoor Japan Inc. Editor-in-Chief Gardner Robinson Editor William Ross Business Development Director Luke McDonald Art Director Yuki Masuko Contributing Editors Wayne Graczyk, Shigeo Morishita Administration & Distribution Rika Cook Illustration Eureka! Translation Yoshine Lee, Kumiko Kurosaki, Eri Nishikami Tomoko Okazaki Contact Information: Outdoor Japan Inc. 6-6-55 Higashi Kaigan Minami, Chigasaki-shi, Kanagawa 253-0054 253-0054 6-6-55 Rock Shots By Eddie Gianelloni Traveler’s Journal: Among Buddhas and Maples By Ted Taylor 18 26 34 44 51 COLUMNS The Heart of Shinshu By Lee Dobson Long Trails in Japan: The Shinetsu By Pauline Kitamura Into the Ryukyu Blue Story and Photos by Tim Rock & Yoko Higashide The Warm Faces of Colombia By Chris Van Leuven Tel: (0467) 81-3212 Fax: (0467) 81-3213 Editorial: firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising: email@example.com Subscriptions: firstname.lastname@example.org Comments: email@example.com OJ Creative: firstname.lastname@example.org Wild West Decrepit By Michael John Grist 6 11 16 Inside Out Monkey Brains featuring Hiro and Jiro By Craig Yamashita 17 55 Cycling Japan Shibu Toge: Take the High Road By Takashi Niwa www.facebook/japantraveler www.twitter.com/outdoorjapan www.youtube.com/outdoorjapan On the Run Running the Tanigawa Range By Robert Self Japan Angler Guerilla Plugging: Part 1 ©2013 OUTDOOR JAPAN INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. REPRODUCTION IN WHOLE OR IN PART WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION IS PROHIBITED. VIEWS EXPRESSED HEREIN ARE NOT NECESSARILY THOSE OF OUTDOOR JAPAN. Printed in Japan. By Abdel Ibrahim The Local Brew Hitachino Nest Beer By Bryan Harrell 4 From the Editor Contributors, Columnists & Cohorts 8 Upcoming Events Lifestyle Directory Travel. Make deep turns. Ride your bike.Take a bath. Ride a wave.Take a walk. Climb something. Explore. AUTUMN Minakami Adventure Festival 2013, Shinshu Togakushi Trail Run Race and Outdoor Festa, Cycle Mode International, etc... Market Watch 9 Photo Gallery 58 OJ Classifieds Summer Splash 2013 2 0 1 3 3 FROM THE EDITOR Gardner Robinson, Editor-in-Chief Contributors, Columnists and Cohorts From Nagano to Tokyo, Let the Games Begin! リー・ドブソン Lee Dobson Pauline Kitamura ポーリーン 北村 T he morning after our annual Summer Splash weekend in Minakami, I awoke with a text message from my wife that simply read, “We won!” People to whom I spoke were generally pessimistic about the chances Tokyo would win the bid to host the Summer Olympics in 2020. Most pointed to the uncertainty of the situation in Fukushima as a deterrent. During the Nagano Winter Olympics in 1998, I was living in Nagano and attended a number of events. I remember the buzz before and during the games, and the International Olympic Committee President at the time, Juan Antonio Samaranch, hailing the Nagano Olympics as having, “the best organization in the history of the Olympic Games.” Everyone agreed they were a sparkling success, while especially high marks were given for hospitality. Everyone, perhaps, except the taxpayers facing the $10 billion bill. A citizens committee asked to see the accounting records of the games, yet a senior member of the Nagano Olympic Bid Committee conveniently ordered them destroyed. It was generally accepted there was a net loss. So, I was understandably skeptical about these Tokyo games, but when I heard the news, my reaction surprised me. I was excited and hopeful. Others reacted similarly. The last two years have been tough for Japan, but momentum has been building, and the Tokyo Games seem as though they could provide that little extra push we need. The world will be watching Japan in the coming years, and there is hope this added scrutiny will be a good thing. I’m confident this resilient country will step up and be excited to see what Tokyo will look like in the summer of 2020. It’s too bad, however, the Games couldn’t be in autumn. This spectacular season in Japan brings relief from the humidity, provides comfortable temperatures for travel and outdoor activities and the expectation of winter just around the corner. It’s the best time of the year for running trails, long hikes and rock climbing. Surfers get stoked for the occasional typhoon swell, and it’s a great time to head over to Okinawa to do some diving. This issue is full of autumn adventures and traveler tales, and we hope you’ll find some inspiration to get out there and explore. Coming up this winter, we hit a major milestone — our 50th issue — and we are going to make it a big one. We’ll be launching a new Japan Snow Guide smart phone application, so you can start planning your winter trips. Stay tuned! 2 ティム・ロック Tim Rock エデイ・ジーアネロニ Eddie Gianelloni クリス・ヴァン・ルーヴェン Chris Van Leuven マイケル・ジョン・グリスト Michael John Grist 2020 テッド・タイラー Ted Taylor Craig Yamashita クレイグ・山下 1998 2020 IOC 100 ロバート・セルフ Robert Self ブライアン・ハレル Bryan Harrell 50 Takashi Niwa email@example.com 4 丹羽 隆志 アブデル・イブラヒム Abdel Ibrahim AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 By Craig Yamashita Illustration by Eureka! Monkey Brains featuring Hiro and Jiro I'm so glad I wasn't born a human. I HEAR YA.... Although, they DID invent beer. They can't be all bad I'LL DRINK TO THAT! IN: TRIP IN FALL ...maybe there's still a primal connection with nature in some of them that needs to be renewed from time to time. I mean, I get it. keep hope alive Why do humans come all the way to the mountains just to go back to the city the next day? I dunno... but I would too, if I had to live on a treadmill like them... I like to think there's still some hope for them as a species... GeT 짜1,995 Com ing Soo n! Com ing Soo n! www.surfersjournal.jp 6 AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 7 20 1 n um E 49 t u a SSU I 3 RACES & EVENTS SPOTLIGHTS ride event and one of the largest cycling shows in Asia. It’s a must-see for anyone into cycling and cycling gear. You can check out all the latest models, pro rider exhibitions and educational sessions and even cycling fashion shows. There are also some bargains on bikes, frames and gear and more. Web: www.cyclemode.net Oct. 5-6 Minakami Adventure Festival 2013 2013 The Minakami Adventure Festival is a great place to get your feet wet in a variety of fun outdoor activities. Try paragliding, white water rafting, bungy jumping, hot-air balloon rides, canyoning, mountain biking and more. Enjoy food, music and shopping for gear at this two-day outdoor festival in Honshu’s adventure capital, Minakami. Web: www.adventure-fest.com Nov. 23-24 around the world head to Saipan for this challenging 100-kilometer race. This year's course starts and finishes at the Mariana Resort & Spa, the gorgeous resort near many of the island's northern scenic sites. The event is a great way to get your legs in shape for winter and the most fuel-efficient tour of Saipan. Cash prizes for the top pro and amateur competitors. Register online at www.hell-of-the-marianas.com. Warrior Dash in Sagamiko Resort in Warrior Dash returns to Sagamiko Resort in Kanagawa with more obstacles and challenges. This “my pace” 5K race offers participants the choice of the standard Emerald Course, the more challenging Black Diamond Course, or the Walk Around path and completion of all obstacles is optional. Throw on your favorite costume and get down and dirty. Live bands and DJs, raffle drawings and other fun activities are happening throughout the day. Web: www.warriordash.jp Oct. 26-27 Shinshu Togakushi Trail Run Race and Outdoor Festa & This fun race in Togakushi's beautiful, rugged mountains, just north of Nagano City, has something for everyone. The event features a Long course (45K), Middle Course (28K), Junior and Beginner Course (6) and a Team Challenge (teams of three each running 6K). Web: www.togakushi-trail.jp From the film "Reel Rock 7: Honnold 3.0" © Peter Mortimer Banff Film Festival in Japan 2013 2013 This critically acclaimed outdoor and adventure film festival is brought to Japan by Patagonia, and its popularity has grown. The Japan tour continues in October and November with upcoming shows in Yokohama (Oct. 5) Kyoto (Oct. 12), Sendai (Oct. 13), Nagoya (Oct. 20), Osaka (Oct. 2627), Myoko City (Nov. 2), Minakami (Nov. 9), Sapporo (Nov. 10), Fukuoka (Nov. 17). Web: www.banff.jp Dec. 7 Nov. 2-4 (Osaka) & Nov. 9-10 (Tokyo) 7th Annual Hell of the Marianas Century Cycle 7 Hell of the Marianas is the Northern Marianas' largest cycling event. Professional and amateur riders from Cycle Mode International Cycle Mode is Japan's biggest bicycle expo and test MARKET WATCH By Joan Bailey Hida-Takayama Morning Markets Tucked away among Hida-Takayama's charming Edo-era streets, visitors can find fresh, seasonal fare from local producers at the town's two morning markets. Running yearround for the last 300 years, the Jinya Mae and Miyagawa Morning Markets burst with locally grown products such as varieties of apples, beans and vegetables, including the famous kakabu (red turnip). Takayama's celebrated deep snow and cold temperatures have fostered a delicious tradition of food preservation, and vendors share these local flavors with homemade miso and tsukemono (pickles). Add a few craftsmen and women, and the two markets become mini-morning festivals. Japan Farmer's Markets A Taste for Adventure: (hot pepper) and garlic, are an unforgettable sensation of flavors made from local varieties of daizu (soybeans). Various rice toppings, or whatever the culinary imagination can dream up, include dried shiso (perilla) seeds and roasted daizu. Miyagawa Morning Market This morning market lines one side of the Miyagawa, whose cold, clear mountain waters tumble through town. Shoppers savor local flavors and crafts while cranes, herons and ducks feast in the waters below. The narrow lane fills with vendor tables along the riverside and shop owners displaying their wares on the other. Here yew woodcarvings and textiles join the array of miso, pickles, fresh and dried vegetables. Seasonal fruits are sure to include kaki (persimmon) for immediate eating and for turning into hoshigaki (dried persimmons). Visitors will also find dried magnolia leaves, truly a Hida specialty. Locals top it with miso and strips of tender Hida beef (another specialty not to be missed), and patiently (or impatiently, as the case may be) wait for the flavors to blend into a perfect combination of field and forest that is Hida-Takayama. Both markets open at 6:30 a.m. (7 a.m. in winter) and finish by noon. Early visitors will find the best selection, although bustle reaches its height 8-9a.m. (8:30 a.m. in winter). Jinya Mae Morning Market This market, set in front of Takayama Jinya, is on the edge of Takayama’s famous old town area, and next to another historic landmark, an Edo-period government building turned museum. Autumn brings sweet potatoes, freshly harvested apples, early funasaka (a local variety of radish), as well as kakabu, and plenty of pumpkin. Vendors also sell homemade applesauce as well as homemade pickles, miso and grilled mochi made from this year's rice. Furusei Farms' flavored miso, made with ginger, togarashi 8 AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 9 Race Reports XTERRA JAPAN M arunuma Kogen in Gunma Prefecture was once again the playground for some of the world’s top triathletes who gathered in August to compete for the XTERRA Japan title. South Africa’s Dan Hugo and Japan’s Mieko Carey took home top honors in the 10th annual off-road triathlon, part of the XTERRA World Tour. Asked how it feels to win her fourth XTERRA Japan, Carey replied, “I am very excited. I never thought I could win one, let alone four.” This isn’t just an ordinary race for Carey, who lives and trains in Guam. “XTERRA Japan is special to me since I am Japanese. I have great friends here and it’s fun racing against some of the top Japanese and foreign athletes. I am from Japan, so coming back to Marunuma feels like home. I live and race outside of Japan, so it's a great feeling coming here to compete,” she says. Carey dominated the day. She was the first woman out of the water, and the first across the line in 2:56:11, followed by Yasuko Miyazaki nearly 15 minutes back. Mother Nature didn’t make it any easier for the racers. It is already one of the XTERRA World Tour’s toughest courses, and the rain leading up to the race ensured a wet and wild race day. “The day before there was a lot of rain, and there were landslide and lightning warnings. We were told the course may change on race day due to the conditions, but the weather was excellent on race day,” said Carey. “The bike course here is one of the most extreme of all XTERRA races, and all of the foreign pros will tell you this. Japan is very wet and muddy; it has lots of roots and rocks. It was super difficult, but at the same time a lot of fun. You feel like a kid again playing in the mud.” Hugo won his second major of the season (he captured the XTERRA East Championship in June) to go with six runnerup performances. Like Carey, he led from start to finish, outswimming the field by more than two minutes, and taking a four-plus minute lead into the run. He took the tape in 2:12:16, more than seven minutes ahead of last year’s champ, Takahiro Ogasawara. “Crazy day and crazy fun in the best sense. It’s the adventure mentality,” said Hugo. “We had a torrential downpour yesterday which made for an extreme course, just off the charts, riding with one foot clipped in and one foot clipped out, some places sliding next to the bike; it was mad fun. “The people here seem to love it, and everything flows. It’s been an incredible Japanese experience. Beautiful respectful culture, an incredible mountain lodge; it’s all been a bit eye opening. It’s my first time here, and the first time I’ve ever had a breakfast like this before the race, and it seemed to work, so maybe I’ll have miso soup before all my races. “I’ve had an amazing time here and look forward to exploring Tokyo for a few days now. I can promise you this is not my last trip to Japan,” said Hugo. Next up is the best-of-the-best gathering for the XTERRA World Championship in Kapalua, Maui, on Oct. 27. RESULTS Pro Men Dan Hugo (South Africa) 2:12:16 Takahiro Ogasawara (Japan) 2:19:53 Jarad Kohlar (Australia) 2:24:19 Mieko Carey (Japan) 2:56:11 Yasuko Miyazaki (Japan) 3:11:05 Emma Francis (Australia) 3:43:52 Pro Women See full results and upcoming races at www.xterraplanet.com IRONMAN JAPAN with Men's winner Martin Jensen RONMAN made a triumphant return to The Land of the Rising Sun this summer as nearly 1,600 athletes gathered on the shores of beautiful Lake Toya in Hokkaido. As the sun broke through low clouds onto the glassy lake, swimmers broke the stillness, charging into the water to chase the title of the first IRONMAN in Hokkaido, and the first race in Japan since 2009. After emerging from the water, they jumped on bikes, taking in views of imposing mountains, volcanoes and lush farmland. The final leg took them on a spectacular two-loop run alongside Lake Toya. Good weather held through the early stages, but then rain and wind began, setting the pattern for the rest of the day. It resulted in a beast of a course the gutsy athletes braved all the way to the finish line. It was Denmark’s Martin Jensen who crossed first, winning the men’s race by a comfortable margin. Taiwan’s Shiao-Yu Li won the women’s title with a hard-earned victory. Outdoor Japan talked to the men’s champion about the race. Outdoor Japan: Was this your first time racing in Japan? Martin Jensen: Yes, this was my first race and my first time in Japan. I came out to Hokkaido a week before the race to get comfortable with the time difference between Denmark (-7 hours) and here, and to get to know the area for the race. OJ: How was the Hokkaido course? MJ: The course was amazing. Being in the area for a week leading up to the race, I had a good chance to get to know the roads around Lake Toya. Still, I hadn’t ridden the entire bike course before race day. The course was very challenging and I the constant change in terrain made it very difficult to keep a steady pace throughout the race. Fortunately, I didn’t have to ride the hills/mountains in the rain, which would have been an extra challenge. The run course was very beautiful along the lakeside, and even though I got tired by the end of the race, I was able to enjoy the run all the way to the finish line. OJ: Were you surprised by the victory? MJ: I knew I would be the favorite going into the race, but I was quite comfortable with that. I am very strong in the swim-bike combination, so I’m used to racing alone out in front. So, in that case, the race wasn’t much different than any other race. I didn’t realize how big my margin was until I met the other competitors on the way back from the turnaround on the run, and from there I was able to slow down a bit, since I couldn’t really lose with that much of a gap. OJ: You recently won your first IRONMAN 70.3 and now your first full IronMan. What has led to your success? MJ: I have had many good results since I started racing as a pro in 2008, but until this year I hadn’t won any of the big races. I haven’t changed much from previous years, but just finally had the luck also required to win. IRONMAN Japan was only my third full IRONMAN; the other two being IRONMAN Louisville in the USA (2nd place) and IRONMAN Hawaii (18th place). OJ: What makes the IRONMAN races special? MJ: IRONMAN races are special because of the toughness it takes to finish one. If you add the difficulty of the course in Hokkaido, it makes it a very special achievement for every single finisher. You get to know every single part of your character during the race and get to face all your demons during the tough parts. Once you finish an IRONMAN, you will have new insight into yourself. OJ: Did Japan leave an impression on you? MJ: Hokkaido was an amazing place with very beautiful nature. Apparently Hokkaido also has some great skiing in the wintertime, so I might have to come back to check that out some day. I loved every single minute of my time in Japan, and I haven’t had much rice since my return to Denmark… OJ: What's next? MJ: I just had the first vacation in a very long time, and now I’m slowly getting back into training. I would like to do IRONMAN Western Australia in December, but I have to make sure my body is fully recovered from the race in Hokkaido before I commit to another full distance IRONMAN. My 2014 season has not been planned yet, but I hope to be able to come back and race in Japan. RESULTS Men Martin Jensen (Denmark) 08:47:53 Petr Vabrousek (Czechoslovakia) 09:19:52 Kaito Tohara (Japan) 09:27:30 Shiao-Yu Li (Taiwan) 10:12:42 Michelle Wu (Australia) 10:19:24 Emi Sakai (Japan) 10:24:19 Women See full results and upcoming races at www.ironman.com 10 AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 ON THE RUN By Robert Self Running the Tanigawa Range Despite being one of Japan’s preeminent places for climbing, rafting and canyoning, the Tanigawa area has not really registered as a destination for trail running. This may partially be due to Tanigawa’s reputation for being prone to danger and accidents, yet I often find myself dreaming of running the long ridges. Perhaps no other destination offers such incredible alpine scenery just two hours from central Tokyo. In good weather, Tanigawa’s ridge runs unfurl majestic vistas over sharp green peaks, with carpets of alpine flowers and year-round snowfields. A trail runner can run for hour upon hour on grassy, runnable ridge trails with striking views toward the next peak in whichever direction they are running. So why so few trail runners? Well, there is the reality that those long grassy ridgelines are extremely exposed in bad weather and descent trails are few and far between. Since the ridge lies on the watershed between the Pacific Ocean and the Japan Sea, weather systems seem to fight it out up here with bare-knuckled anger. Beyond the hut on Tanigawa-dake, there is no more water to be had along the ridge in any direction without a long descent to a river or spring. Carry whatever you need, topping off at the hut if necessary. There is plenty of civilization around the base of Tanigawa Ropeway or at its terminus at Tenjin-daira. Using the ropeway to skip the long ascent is certainly an option for those runners who want to head up for the day, get their kicks on the long ridges after the main peak of Tanigawa and then get back to Tokyo that evening. For runners wanting to get the full grunt of going up Tanigawa, a convenient and sometimes dramatic course begins at the base of the ropeway. Follow the signs for Nishikuro-one （西黒尾根） This ascent has a couple of sections of chains, but in good weather it is relatively safe, at least by Tanigawa’s standards. From the Tanigawa, the ridge then splits in two directions; both good options. You can go west toward Mantaro Mountain (万太郎 （一ノ倉） along 山) or north toward Ichinokura the narrow spine of one of Japan’s most famous mountain couloirs. An “in-and-out” day run along either ridge makes a lot of sense for novices or if the weather is iffy (and most days are somewhat iffy up here). Plan your turnaround point carefully and do not venture in either direction without an emergency kit. As much as some of us love to run light, this is not the place to go without essentials such as a rain shell, gloves, fleece and space blanket. In the coming years, I hope to see more trail runners on the Tanigawa trails in these stunning mountains. Robert Self came to Japan from northern California's redwood country. He has been running in Japan's mountains for 20 years and has coached runners from beginners to international champions. He is the director of Hanno Trail School which specializes in running tours and trail running lessons. Web: www.tokyotrailrunning.com / Facebook: www.facebook.com/tokyotrailrunning AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 11 Q&A Your performance in August (finishing 6th) at the Leadville Trail 100 Mile Race in Colorado caught the attention of the trail running world. Tell us about your preparation for that race. Since the LT100 course is all high altitude (lowest point 2,800m; highest point 3,840m), I knew I needed plenty of time for acclimatization. I traveled to Colorado four weeks prior to the race so my body could gradually adapt to the altitude. My training was a mix of running and hiking; the long hikes in higher altitude and climbing a few “14-ers” (14,000-foot mountains) especially helped give my body time to adjust. Since it was just my second 100-mile race, I increased my weekly training volume and ran up to 210 kilometers in the weeks before tapering off, following the rule to train low and live high. The long runs (50K+) and more intense runs I did in lower elevation in the Boulder area (1,500m). You won the Al Andalus Ultimate Trail Race in Spain last year, as well as the Sunrise to Sunset Ultra Marathon in Mongolia two years ago. Overall you seem to enjoy entering races outside of Japan. I started trail running and racing in Japan, which I really enjoy, but trail running for me goes hand-in-hand with discovery, adventure and meeting other like-minded TIMO MEYER Over the past two years, Minakami-based trail runner Timo Meyer has made a name for himself on the international trail running scene. Outdoor Japan’s Robert Self sits down with Timo to talk running trails, training and racing overseas. people. I love traveling to other countries and joining races. I haven’t entered a race twice yet. Another reason I prefer races overseas is the atmosphere is generally more fun and friendly, compared to a more serious and competitive atmosphere at Japanese races. Don’t get me wrong; I love to compete, but having fun while being out there with several hundred fellow runners and enjoying the trails and scenery is as important to me as the competition. What’s your typical training week? My typical weekly volume (distance) is 100-150 kilometers but, depending on the type of race I enter, my training weeks vary quite a lot. I generally run daily and take a day off or do very easy runs if I feel tired. Weekdays I usually do one speed workout (intervals or tempo) and one hill workout on road or treadmill. On the weekends, I try to go out on the trails and do long runs between three and six hours, often back-toback. I also like to do double sessions, a harder/longer session in the morning and easy runs in the afternoon or evening. It’s easier to accumulate miles and is less stress on your body. I don’t do much cross training but try to spend two-to-three hours per week in the gym doing core and full body exercises. You seem to do a lot of road and speed work. Is roadwork essential to becoming a great trail runner? I started running on road and running marathons. I wouldn’t say roadwork is essential for trail running. There are a bunch of elite runners out there such as Kilian Jornet, Timothy Olson, Ruby Muir and Anton Krupicka who, as far as I know, never train on road. But I think the main benefit, which you gain from road running, is speed, increased leg turnover and running for longer stretches at a steady pace. In Japan, the trails tend to be more technical and less runnable, so if you only train on trails, you might work on your strength, technique and agility, but speed is also a major factor nowadays if you want to place high at a trail race. There are a few high rising roadrunners winning races such as Max King and Sage Canaday, setting new CRs (course records) in races they enter. Their PBs (personal bests) on road marathons is in the range of two hours, 15 minutes. How much time do you spend training in Japan these days? As much as I love traveling and discovering new places to run, I am also a person who likes continuity and routine. If you travel a lot, it is difficult to find a steady training rhythm. I try to train in Japan when I prepare for 12 AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 8 6 100 LT 1 0 0 3,840m 2,800m 14-ers 14-ers 14,000 100 100 210km 1,500m 3 6 2 & 15 50km 1 150km 2 2 3 AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 13 a bigger race. This year I will most likely end up training three-to-four months in Japan. You use Minakami and Tanigawa as your bases while here. Can you tell us about some of your favorite courses and trails in the area? My favorite road course is a 30-km. loop on hilly roads with almost no traffic. I love this course since it has close to 1,000 meters in elevation, and I can run it throughout the year. My favorite trail course is a 25K loop around Tanigawa, starting at the Doai Station with a steep technical climb up to Mt. Shiragamon (1,720m) and running along the ridgeline with spectacular views to Mt. Asahi. It's not an easy course though; it can be quite windy up there, and there are no exit points; therefore starting early is recommended. The loop takes seven hours for an average trail runner. I love running in Tanigawa; once on the ridgelines it is some of the most spectacular scenery around Kanto. But I've never found a good descent trail for running. Any suggestions? For nice steady downhills, I recommend Minakami’s Norn Ski resort; the ski slope itself is too steep to run fast, but you can fly down the switchback forest trails which go alongside the ski slope. There are also nice downhill trails in the Naeba Ski Resort area if you climb up Mt. Tairappyu (1,984m), and the Mt. Akagi area is nice. Both are about 30-40 minutes by car from Minakami. How do you deal with the inevitable injuries that come with training at your present intensity? Although I have increased my training volume this year compared to previous years, I am fortunate that I have been less injury-prone so far this season. Besides rolling my right ankle at the The North Face Australia in May this year which caused my first DNF (did not finish), I have only had small issues with my IT-Band, shin and Achilles tendon. Of course injuries occur, and it can be a setback both physically and mentally, often the main reason why runners quit. However I believe there are ways to minimize injuries, by doing body care, stretching, strength training and self-massages (a foam roller, my travel buddy). It’s also very important to work on your running technique and balance exercises, since injuries often occur because of muscle imbalances. If I have issues which I can’t eliminate on my own, I seek help from experts. ART (Active Release Technique) and acupuncture are my main treatments and highly recommended. You have only been trail running for about four years, making an incredible ascent in this sport. What advice can you give runners who would like to follow in your footsteps? Yes, although I started to enter races in 2011 (third season this year) I did my first trail runs about four years ago. Before that, I had been running two or three road marathons per year for about three years, but there was no real passion. I did it more for fitness, and the marathons I entered were mainly for motivation and having a goal. Trail running turned into a big passion of mine. I love what I do, so the first advice I can give is to create passion for the act of running. Fun, love and joy come hand-inhand with passion. The second advice is be patient and plan long term; it takes time to build a solid fundament for running. You might be able to run a marathon (with a lot of suffering), with three months of training, but it takes much more preparation and time to get ready for a “hundred miler.” So train with patience, give your body time to recover and adapt slowly to long distance running, and you will reach your goal step-by-step. The last important advice is to train smart. Many runners get caught and settle into a boring, repetitive training pattern accumulating too many empty miles and then wonder why there is no progress. Trail/Ultra running AUTUMN requires a quite complex skill set—endurance, strength, speed, balance, proper nutrition—and your training should be diverse accordingly. It is still a young sport and there are many theories on “how to train properly for an ultra” out there. Educate yourself on all ends, follow elite runners and see how they train (you can find a lot of training logs of elite runners online), experiment and find what works for you best (e.g. high/low mileage, nutrition, cross-training), and adjust and modify your training plan to give your body new impulses. Don’t settle into mediocrity; be smart with your training. At Leadville, what was going through your mind as you realized you were going to finish in front of some legendary ultra marathoners? Being part of Leadville 100, a race I read about in “Born to Run” several years ago, was exciting enough, but to be competing with the likes of ultra marathon legend Scott Jurek and other elite runners such as Ryan Sandes, Ian Cordes and Nick Clark was unreal. My goal was to run my own race and cross the finish line, if possible sub-20 hours. At the half point at Winfield aid station, I realized for the first time I might be able to finish top 10, which was very exciting. But there was still a long way to go, so finishing and not blowing was my primary goal. I stayed patient and ran my own pace. Through defensive running, my energy level after 100 km. was quite high. This paid off since a few other runners in the front were struggling, Jurek included. Leaving the last aid station—with about 20K left in the race—I was in eighth position and more than happy with that position as I’d secured a sub-20h time. However I could feel another runner chasing me, so my pacer and I decided to speed up and luckily we were able to improve my position, in the last leg passing Jurek with approximately 5K remaining in the race. We shook hands while running, a very special moment in my running career. When I crossed the finish line, it was surreal. ✤ 14 2 0 1 3 Q&A TIMO MEYER 3 4 30km 1,000m 25km 1,720m ART 4 2011 7 3 3 4 3 100 Born to Run 20 10 3 1,984m 100km 30 40 20km 8 20 5 5km ✤ AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 15 By Bryan Harrell Hitachino Nest Beer 常 陸野ネストビール Naka City, Ibaraki 茨城県那珂市 ひ た ち の ne of Japan’s early craft beer brewers, Hitachino Nest was founded in October of 1996 by Kiuchi Shuzo, a sake brewery with origins dating back to 1823. In recent years, they have also produced shochu spirits and wine. Hitachino Nest has been one of Japan’s most successful craft beer brands internationally, with about half of production exported throughout Asia, North America and Europe. Their beers, particularly the popular White Ale, command good prices in the U.S. where they can be found in quite a number of high-end restaurants. Hitachino Nest has actively sought linkages with overseas producers a nd, to this end, concluded a licensed brewing a rra ngement with Brook ly n Brewery, a noted U.S. craft beer producer. Under the direction of Garrett Oliver, Brooklyn’s brewma ster, Hitachino Nest began production of Brooklyn Lager in kegs for limited distribution within Japan. This arrangement has Oliver visiting Hitachino Nest from time to time to assure Brooklyn O Lager is brewed to spec. In August this year, he once again paid a visit and brewed a batch of this rich and refreshing lager. During Oliver’s visit, a small reception for him was held at a pub run by the brewery in nearby Mito City. International exchanges such as these seem to be spreading slowly in Japan. Earlier this year, the Coedo Brewery in Saitama Prefecture did a collaboration brew with Coronado Brewing in San Diego, with another joint brew slated at Coedo in early fall. A tradition of innovation continues at Hitachino Nest, with the new Daidai Ale released this year. It is a light ale made with daidai citrus fruit, similar to oranges but with a stronger tartness and more complex c it r u s f lavor. T he brewe r y e xce l le d w it h t h i s b e e r by minimizing the hop bitterness while maximizing herbal hop aromas which complimented the citrus flavor, making it quite refreshing. Photo courtesy of Hitachino Nest Brewery 1823 1996 8 Garrett Oliver, brewmaster of Brooklyn Brewery Hitachino Nest Beer - Kiuchi Brewery 常 陸 野ネストビール 木 内 酒 造 1257 Konosu, Naka-shi, Ibaraki 311-0133 311- 013 3 125 7 Garrett Oliver meets with beer enthusiasts in Japan Phone: (029) 298-0105 Web: www.kodawari.cc 16 AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 Cycling Japan: A JOURNEY TO EXPERIENCE THE LOCAL LIFE ROUTE By Takashi Niwa Translated by Sakae Sugahara サイ ク リ ング—それは 土地の暮らしを感じる旅 # 20 117 GOAL! Tsunan NIIGATA PREFECTURE Yuzawa Shibu Toge: Take the High Road 日本最高標高： 渋峠 （しぶ・と うげ） を越える Nozawa Onsen KA TS N-E UE SS RE XP Yudanaka Y WA NAGANO PREFECTURE Kusatsu START! Tsumagoi 144 146 GUNMA PREFECTURE Minakami 145 Naganohara Fall foliage starts earlier at higher altitudes. From mid-to-late October, you can find beautifully tinted foliage along the route, but the mountainside will be at peak colors in mid-October. 10 10 traddling the boarder of Gunma and Nagano Prefectures, Shibu Toge (Shibu Pass) sits 2,172 meters above sea level, making it the highest point on any of Japan’s national roads. Starting from the famous spa report of Kusatsu Onsen, the long and winding road keeps climbing to the pass. The desolate, rugged terrain along the mountainside is caused by volcanic gases and there are very few trees, if any, in sight. Going over the pass, the road on the Nagano side descends to the Shiga Kogen highlands. Spend a night here and continue downhill on S the Zakogawa Rindo. Different from what many of you would expect, the rindo, or forest road, is paved, but beware, as it runs through deep forests, and there are no places to eat and no vending machines for nearly 20 kilometers from the Mt. Yakebitai ski area to Kiriake Onsen. The views of autumn leaves from the road are particularly beautiful in mid-October. After toiling over a short, but steep, hill past the hot springs, the road follows a downgrade to the town of Tsunan. The JR Iiyama Line stops here and takes you back to Nagano City. (Total distance: approximately 100 kilometers.) 2,172m 20 10 JR 1 100 Takashi Niwa’s Yamamichi Adventure company has been renamed Niwa Cycling Tours (www.ncycling.com). He offers many bike tours, both domestic and overseas. For other routes in Japan, please pick up a copy of “CYCLING JAPAN: 10 of the Best Rides, Vol. 1”by Takashi Niwa, at bookshops around Japan and various online stores. 2011 1 www.ncycling.com 10 vol.1 AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 17 The Heart of Shinshu 信州の心、 松本 BY lee dobson Matsumoto-jo as seen from main bridge. 18 AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 t was a cold January evening in 1618. The guard shivered, stifled a yawn and shifted his weight from right to left in an effort to keep himself warm and awake. He was on duty, and it would not befit a young samurai to sleep on his watch. He stiffened, the hairs on the back of his neck rising as someone approached; a young woman dressed in the traditional red-and-white garb of a shrine maiden. He blinked and shook his head, trying to clear his thoughts and his eyes. There was no mistaking it; the young woman stood resolutely before the warrior. He chastised himself for allowing her to sneak up on him. “Do not fear,” she said. “Listen carefully and act upon what I say, and good fortune will befall this place.” After delivering her message, she drifted slowly toward the ceiling and disappeared. Questioning his sanity, the guard reported the encounter to his lord the next day. “My Lord, last night an apparition claiming to be Nijuroku-yashin, the goddess of the 26th night of the month, appeared before me and said that if we enshrine her with an offering of 500 kilograms of cooked rice, the castle will prosper and be protected from fire and enemies.” The Daimyo noted the gravity in the young man’s eyes and did as the goddess bade. A shrine was built in a ceiling of the main tower, and on day 26 of every month, an offering was made. は1618年、 1月のある寒い夜。 男はぶる っ すいま かくとう と身震いをひ とつした。 睡魔と格闘しなが ら、 身体を左右に揺ら し温める。 今夜、 見張り を 任されたこの若い侍は、 なん と して も眠るわけに いかないのだ。 その時、 向こ うから巫女が着る ひ しょうぞく 緋の装束をつけた若い女がやって く るのが見え た。 男は、 ぞっ と して身体を こわばらせた。 眠気のせいかと、 まばたき を し、 頭を振っては みた ものの、 目の前に立つ女は幻な どではなかっ わ た。 男はあわてて、 女にそそう を詫びた。 「恐れる こ とはない」 。 女は口を開いた。 「これ から言う こ と を よ く 聞き、 そのとお り におこな うがよ あんたい い。 さすれば城は安 泰である」 。 女はお告げを 残すと、 すーっ と浮かび上が り、 天井の向こ う に 消えていった （注） 。 夜が明けた。 侍は不思議に思いながら も、 藩 主に昨夜の出来事を報告した。 「昨夜、 二十六 夜神さ まが姿を現し、 お告げを残していかれま し まつ た。 二十六夜神さ まを祀り、 米420kgをお供え すれば、 城はますます栄え、 火事や敵から もお 守り く ださ る とのこ と でございます」 。 侍の真剣な訴えに、 藩主はさっそ く 天守の梁 はり I Swans swimming in the moat under autumn leaves. Volunteer guide: Shō Hagiwara 時 Such is the ghostly legend of Matsumoto-jo, one of the こんな言い伝えをもつ松本城は、日本で４つしか last four Japanese castles to still stand intact. Perhaps ない国宝城のひとつである。二十六夜神さまは約束 the goddess has kept her promise. Known as the crow を守ってくれたというわけだ。黒い城壁と鳥の翼の castle because of its black walls and the upward sweep ようにも見える急勾配の屋根から、カラス城とも呼 of the roof resembling crow’s wings, the structure is the ばれる、長野県松本市に建つ国宝である。地元の人 centerpiece of Matsumoto City in Nagano Prefecture. Be たちは長野市と混同されることを嫌うので、長野で careful not to let the locals hear you say Nagano though, はなく信州と呼ぶように気をつけよう。 as that is merely the name of another city. Shinshu is the 松本城を語るうえでは、多田加助も欠かせない人 物だ。江戸時代の百姓であった加助は、一揆を先導 preferred name of the area. According to another legend, some time during the した罪人として、松本城を望む高台で打ち首にされ はりつけ Edo period a local farmer, Tada Kusuke, refusing to た。加助は磔 にされながらも、首を打たれる瞬間ま にら pay the exorbitant taxes during a time of famine, was で年貢の減免を訴えつづけた。最期の加助の睨 みに beheaded on a hill overlooking the castle. He shouted よって天守閣が傾いたという伝説もある。大修理が his message of unfair taxes until the blade fell. At the おこなわれるまで、天守閣は何百年も傾いたままで moment of his execution, a loud cracking sound filled あった。 ひらじろ the air, and the castle suddenly leaned to one side. It 松本城は、当時のままの姿を残す、典型的な平 城 である。 守りの堅い城壁の工夫 remained that way until its restoration hundreds of years （平地に築かれた城） と、美しい堀が印象的だ。松本城にはまだまだ見ど later. The structure is in pristine condition and is an ころや興味深い伝承がたくさんあるので、ぜひとも outstanding example of a flatland fort, with well- 無料のガイドツアーを利用して、歴史を感じていた fortified walls and a beautiful moat. There are many だきたい。日本語と英語のガイドツアーは、松本城 fascinating stories and facts surrounding the building の魅力を伝えたいと願う地元のボランティアたちに and its history, and the best way to enjoy it fully is よって行われている。僕も、萩原頌さんによるすば to avail one’s self of the free guided tours. Tours are らしい案内のおかげで、3時間ほど松本城の歴史を たんのう たった600円の観覧料ではもった available in Japanese and English and are conducted by 堪能させてもらい、 いないほどの楽しい時間を過ごした。 local volunteers eager to share their love of the castle town and surrounding areas. I was fortunate enough to be guided by Shō Hagiwara who spent the better part of three hours answering my questions and giving details of the castle’s past. Considering the admission fee is just ¥600, it was an inexpensive way to spend an enjoyable few hours. にご神体を祀り 、 毎月26日には供え ものを欠かさ なかった。 注 ：元和4年 （1618年） 1月26日の晩に、 松本城の侍、 川井八郎三郎が天守 で見張り を している と、 二十六夜神が現れ、 「これから毎月二十六夜が く る度 に米3石3斗3升3合3勺 （約7俵分） の餅をついてお供え し、 それを藩士、 領 民に分け与えて く ださい。 さすれば、 お城はますます栄え、 領民も豊かになる でし ょ う」 と言い、 錦の袋のご神体を川井八郎三郎に渡し、 去っていったとい う松本城に残る二十六夜神の伝説。 AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 19 Being little more than a two-hour train ride from Tokyo, Matsumoto is a great autumn getaway, to delight the senses and get you ready for winter’s onslaught. 東京から電車で2時間半の旅。 人懐っこい人々が温かく出迎えてくれる松本へ足を延ばせば、 楽しい秋の旅行になること間違いなしだ。 20 AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 Basashi: Raw horse meat Riding the wild wasabi at Daio Wasabi Farm. Crickets coated with a sweet soy-based sauce: a local speciality. Best enjoyed with sake. AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 21 Matsumoto is the heart of the Shinshu area and is famous for its produce and proximity to Kiso Valley and the Nakasendo (the “middle path” through the mountains that was a traditional route of daimyos to Edo, the capital) as well as Japan’s Southern Alps. It is the kick-off point for many heading over the mountain range to Kamikochi National Park and further beyond to Hida-Takayama in Gifu. The drive between localities is filled with gorgeous scenery, and the area is abundant with hot springs, so there are ample opportunities for one to partake of one of the season’s joys—a good long soak. Autumn is apple season, and Shinshu is famous for its Azumino-Azusagawa apples. The cool weather, complimented by clear blue skies, creates the perfect mood for either riding or taking a drive around the orchards. The Southern Alps mountain range, with a dusting of the season’s first snow, dotted intermittently with crisp reds and greens of maples and pines, ensures a memorable and scenic treat. Take the time to familiarize yourself with another of the local treats, fresh wasabi. Daio Wasabi Farm is Japan’s largest, covering 15 hectares and yielding 150 tons of flaming green goodness per year. Try some of the delicacies there such as wasabi ice cream or raw wasabi. While the root is generally known for its fiery ability to clear your sinuses and bring you to tears, eaten fresh, it has a sweet initial taste before delivering a subtle burning sensation to your nose. It compliments many dishes, but is often eaten with sushi or sashimi. Be sure to delight your taste buds with Shinshu soba (buckwheat noodles), and don’t shy away from trying basashi (raw horsemeat). It may sound disgusting, but I was pleasantly surprised how tasty it was. For those feeling brave, you may be tempted to try candied crickets on rice as a snack with sake or fried wasp larvae. Being little more than a two-hour train ride from Tokyo, Matsumoto is a great autumn getaway, to delight the senses and get you ready for winter’s onslaught. The locals are friendly and take great pride in sharing their city with you. Why not impose on their hospitality for a day or two? You certainly won’t regret it. ✤ Wasabi crops at Daio Wasabi Farm. Picking Azumino-Azusagawa apples AUTUMN 22 2 0 1 3 The Heart of Shinshu 松本市は、 信州の真ん中に位置し、 有名な木曽谷や 中山道や南アルプスにもほど近い。 上高地国立公園や 飛騨高山へと向かう玄関口でもある。 移動中の風景は どこもすばらしく、 これからの季節にはたまらない温 泉もたくさんある。 秋は、 安曇野の梓川りんごが美味しく実りを迎える 時期でもある。 信州の涼しい空気と、 秋晴れの青い空 の下、 果樹園の広がる道を走るのはじつに気持ちがい い。 初雪の帽子をかぶったアルプスの中に輝く紅葉 は、 忘れられない秋の贈り物になるだろう。 安曇野はわさびの産地としても知られている。 大王 Fresh wasabi for sale. わさび農場は、 15ヘクタールと日本最大のわさび農場 で、 年間150トンもの収穫を誇る。 わさびアイスクリー ムや、 おろしたての新鮮なわさびをぜひ試してもらい たい。 わさびといえば、 あの涙を誘うツーンとした痛 みを思い浮かべると思うが、 新鮮なわさびの場合、 ほ のかな甘みとさわやかな辛さを味わうことができる。 寿司や刺身だけではもったいないくらいの美 味さな のだ。 信州そばはもちろんのこと、 外国人には馴染みがな いかもしれないが、 馬刺しも外せない名産品だ。 勇気 がある人は、 イナゴの佃煮と蜂の子をつまみに一杯ど うぞ。 東京から電車で2時間半の旅。 人懐っこい人々が温 かく出迎えてくれる松本へ足を延ばせば、 楽しい秋の 旅行になること間違いなしだ。 ✤ Kids enjoying wasabi soft cream at Daio Wasabi Farm. う ま Nearby Kamikochi National Park. AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 23 The Heart of Shinshu GETTING THERE From Tokyo, reserved express trains depart regularly from Shinjuku Station and take two-and-a-half hours (짜6,910). From Nagoya, reserved express trains depart regularly and take two hours (짜6,070). Web: www.hyperdia.com WEB CONNECTION Matsumoto City: http://welcome.city.matsumoto.nagano.jp Tada Kasuke (Wikipedia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tada_Kasuke Alps Language Service Association (Volunteer Guide Group): http://npo-alsa.com Wasabi (Wikipedia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wasabi 2 2 6,910 6,070 : http://welcome.city.matsumoto.nagano.jp (Wikipedia): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tada_Kasuke : http://npo-alsa.com (Wikipedia) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wasabi 24 AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 Official Main Partners Presenting Partners Supporting Partners THE WORLD’S BEST MOUNTAIN FILMS 乗鞍高原：9月7日 （土） 東京：9月20日 （金） / 21日 （土） / 22日 （日） / 23日 （月・祝） 長野 （松本） ：9月29日 （日） 横浜：10月5日 （土） 京都：10月12日 （土） 仙台：10月13日 （日） 名古屋：10月20日 （日） 大阪：10月26日 （土） / 27日 （日） 妙高市：11月2日 （土） みなかみ町：11月9日 （土） 札幌：11月10日 （日） 福岡：11月17日 （日） http://www.banff.jp/ AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 Matjaz Wiegele descending Planjava in Kamnik-Savinja Alps, Slovenia. © Marko Prezelj 25 Long Trails in Japan: The By Pauline Kitamura 26 Shinets AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 The word for “hiking” in Japanese is “ tozan ” which literally means “to climb a mountain.” As the word suggests, the lofty goal for most hikers in Japan is to get to the top of the mountain. However, while peak-hunting is still very popular, there’s been a shift taking place over the past few years toward what the Japanese refer to as the “Long Trail” . W hinetsu hat exactly is a “Long Trail?” Basically, it’s any continuously long-distance hiking trail. In English, the term “thru hiking” is often used, and it refers to hikers who complete long distance trails from end-to-end in a single trip. The Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail and Continental Divide Trail were the first three long-distance trails in the U.S. and form what is known as the Triple Crown of long distance hiking in the United States. The trails span thousands of miles. The Pacific Crest Trail (4,286 km. / 2,663 miles) starts at the Canada-U.S. border and goes all the way to the U.S.Mexico border. The Appalachian Trail (approx. 3,500 km./ 2,200 miles) unofficially continues into Canada, and the Continental Divide Trail (5,000 km. / 3,100 miles) also runs between Mexico and Canada following the Continental Divide of the Americas along the Rocky Mountains. In Japan, however, this concept is just starting to take hold as local organizations work toward connecting the myriad of footpaths in their respective areas in a grand effort to create continuous “long trails.” One of the first and most famous “long trails” in Japan is the 80-kilometer Shinetsu Trail which runs along the boundary of Niigata and Nagano prefectures. The trail follows the ridgeline , taking hikers of the Sekita Mountain Range through beautiful beech tree forests, lush wetlands and ridge tops that open to stunning vistas of the valley below. The area is also steeped in history, as many of the mountain passes cutting across the trail were once vital lifelines connecting villages. In the days before cars, roads and telephones, villagers used these paths on a daily basis for work, travel and communication. Today, asphalt roads and highways connect the towns and villages, and the Shinetsu Trail is no longer used as a main transportation route, but its diverse landscape can be enjoyed hiking it from end to end. In the U.S., not everyone can commit several months or more to thru hiking these classic trails, so often people make several trips to complete the entire trail, known as “section hiking.” The Shinetsu Trail is best done as a thruhike, but it is split into six sections (from south to north), so it’s also possible to day-hike sections of the trail as well. 4,286km/2,663 3,500km/2,200 5,000km/3,100 80km 6 1 AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 27 The Shin-etsu Trail Kitaarai Joetsu-shi Arai The Shin-etsu Trail Map 2 Makitouge Nashidairatouge Hishig Busunotouge Nono Utsunomatatouge Nihongi Sekidatouge Dougatatouge Kurokurayama Kugunotouge Nabekurayama INE Nishiotaki Kuwanagawa Chugo IC ETSU L Ozawatouge Hotokegamine Kamikuwanagawa JR SHIN Kamisakai Sekiyama Myoko-shi Kazanoyama Kuroiwayama Kitatouge Toyama Hiramarutouge Togarinozawaonsen Myokokogen IC ESS WAY Gifu EXP R Iiyama-shi Tomikuratouge Shinanotaira HIN -ETS U Kenashiyama Kashigawatouge Hakamadake JOS Myokokogen Aichi Mansakatouge Kitaiiyama Iiyama Shinano-machi Madaraoyama Shinano-machi IC Nojiriko NAGANO-KEN Nagano Prefecture Madarao Kogen Trail Map ( The Shin-etsu Trail Map 1 ) Kurohime Nakano-shi Furuma Toyota-Iiyama IC 28 AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 l Map 3 Tokamachi-shi N SECTION 1: Madarao to Akaike Distance : 8.5 km. : About 6 hours Hiking Time Section 1 is dramatic as it starts with a steep ascent to the top of Mt. Madarao with sweeping vistas. After descending the mountain, you ll cross a beautiful wetland area and a lush green forest with soft dirt trails. Echigoshikawatari gatake Nonomitouge Misakatouge Sanpoudake SECTION 2: Yamabushiyama e omitouge Amamizuyama Tsunan-machi Tsunan Kaitateyama Ashidaki Shinanoshiratori Hirataki Yokokura Morimiyanohara Echigotanaka Akaike to Wakui Distance : 10.5 km. : About 5 hours Hiking Time Section 2 treats hikers to more lush wetlands and serene lakes. You ll also be walking along a long gravel road taking you into the tiny village of Wakui. 2 SECTION 3: a Sakaemura SYMBOL Niigata a Main Trail Road Prefectural Boundary City, Town and Village Boundary Wakui to Hotokegamine Distance : 12.7 km. : About 6 hours Hiking Time Section 3 is part of the historical trail that was used since the 15th to 16th centuries. You ll be making your way over several small peaks along this trail. 3 15 16 Gunma Nagano Saitama Hotokegamine to Sekida Pass Distance : 8.2 km. : 5-6 hours Hiking Time Section 4 is where you ll be able to walk through beautiful towering old growth beech forests. Narrow single-track ridge top trails are also a highlight of this section. SECTION 4: Yamanashi Shizuoka Sekida Pass to Busuno Pass Distance : 12.4 km : About 6 hours Hiking Time Section 5 doesn t have any huge climbs but is rather tough as it consists of many small, consecutive ups and downs along the way. The beautiful green canopy you ll be walking under makes it well worth it though. 5 SECTION 5: Busuno Pass to Amamizuyama Distance : 12.8 km : 6-7 hours Hiking Time Section 6 will test your legs with many consecutive undulations. The finish line at Amamizuyama though is on top of the mountain. Make sure you save some energy to make your way down the mountain. 6 SECTION 6: AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 29 30 AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 TRAIL TIPS The Shinetsu Trail can be done as a thru-hike or, if you prefer, in bits and pieces in any order. Hiking it as a series of day hikes is probably the easiest way to tackle the Shinetsu Trail. If you can cover one or two sections a day, you should be able to complete the entire 80 km. in five or six days. Depending on your schedule, you can start from either end or somewhere in between. When to Hike: The Shinetsu Trail is buried under eight meters of snow for nearly half the year. In particular, the region near Section 6 has experienced some of the heaviest snowfalls in Japan. The best season to hike is in June (although there will still be some snow remaining) and during the fall season from the end of September through early November. The summer season (July, August and early September) can be quite hot and humid, so shorter day hikes along the trail are recommended during these months. Backpacking: Starting in 2012, campsites were opened for those wanting to backpack the trail. There are six campsites along the way, ranging from very rustic (no running water) to comfortable (hot showers and cooking sites available). While the trails are not technically difficult, the walking distances between the campsites are long, particularly between sections 4 to 6, so you’ll need to make sure you’re fit enough to hike long 8-to-10hour days with a heavy backpack. Access to Trailheads: Trailheads can be accessed by car so, if you go with friends, leave a car at each trailhead. If you only have one vehicle, there’s a “my-car” service where you can arrange to have your car driven to the next trailhead. If you don’t have your own car, there are “pensions” (Japanese style inns) which offer pick-up and drop-off services to and from the trailheads. Be aware, there are no mountain huts or accommodations along the trail. (Refer to the official Shinetsu Trail website for the most recent information). Dangers: There are bears in the area, so make sure to bring a bear bell with you. Badge of Honor: After successfully completing the entire 80-km. trail, you’ll be eligible to sign up to receive a “Shinetsu Trail Completion Certificate” as proof of your endeavor. Just report the sections you walked and dates via the official website and pay the service/postal charge to receive your official completion certificate and completion badge Web Connection: Shinetsu Trail Website: www.s-trail.net Official Shinetsu Trail Guidebook & Maps: There’s an official Shinetsu Trail guidebook offering a wealth of information about the trail. It can be purchased at the local tourist offices as well as online. There are also maps (three maps) of the entire course available for purchase. Let’s walk the Shinetsu Trail . See the official Shinetsu Trail Web site for more information. ✤ 1 5 6 1 8m 11 7 8 6 9 2012 4 6 8 10 2 1 80km www.s-trail.net/index.html 3 ✤ AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 31 OTHER LONG TRAILS IN JAPAN Location / Nagano & Yamanashi Prefectures Distance / Approx. 200 km. This 200-K trail connects mountain trails, gravel roads, walking paths and asphalt roads along the foothills of the Yatsugatake Mountain Range. Web: www.ystrail.jp YATSUGATAKE SANROKU SUPER TRAIL Location / Niigata & Nagano Prefectures Distance / 120 km. This historical long trail was originally used to transport salt across Japan. The trail is divided into 11 sections, each with its own history and story. 11 Web: http://sionomichi-trail.com/trail.php SHIONOMICHI TRAIL 5-DAY SHINETSU TRAIL HIKE Join this five-day hike along the Shinetsu Trail with Adventure Divas. Participants will camp in tent sites along the way and tent/backpack rentals are available. Dates: Oct. 12-14 (3 days) and Nov. 2-3 (2 days). Web: www.adventure-divas.com For more information about the trip feel free to contact us in English or Japanese at firstname.lastname@example.org / 080-6700-7171 2 12 14 11 2 3 www.adventure-divas.com 10 Location / Goes through 11 prefectures 11 Distance / 1,697.2 km. One of the longest continuous trails in Japan, it includes mountain trails and roads which take hikers on a journey through many sites of historical and cultural significance. One end of the trail is at Mt. Takao in ) and the other in Min , Osaka ( ). Tokyo ( TOKAI SHIZEN HODO Web: www.tokai-walk.jp For more information about long trails in Japan, visit the Japan Long Trail Association website, (only available in Japanese). Web: http://outdoor-ld.jp/lta/index.html 32 AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 33 Story and oko Higashide Photo s by Tim Rock & Y Ryukyu Blue 34 AUTUMN Into the 2 0 1 3 Island Beat Japan Islands–Micronesia Okinawa is an amazing chain of islands for divers, and the Kerama Islands are on every diver’s Okinawa “bucket list.” The beautiful islands are among the easiest to check off, since they lie just an hour south of Naha on the main island, yet it’s a world away in terms of nature and simplicity. 1 AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 35 s soon as you step off the ferry, you can feel the transformation. Visitors often are escaping the frenetic pace of major Japanese or Asian cities, even the lively Okinawa capital of Naha. Yet, in the Keramas, surrounded by emerald and sapphire waters, beautiful beaches and majestic overlooks, it’s easy to settle into the lazy island life. Only four of the Kerama Islands have human residents: Tokashiki, Zamami, Aka and Geruma. The Islands are diveable year ’round. However, in the summer months when the water warms up, ribbons of silvery sardines explode in columns. Golden clouds of juvenile rabbit fish also move from the open ocean to the inner reef. Cardinal fish gather in huge shoals like copper clouds smothering the coral heads. The ocean is being reborn and is alive. It’s not uncommon to find sea turtles and seamounts frequented by blue water pelagics. In calm seas, the Zamami Queen ferry jets you over to Zamami from Naha in just 50 minutes. Soon after leaving bustling Naha, you motor past sandy islets and submerged reefs, then cruise over a deep trench to the inner bay of Tokashiki Island. Here daytrip dive boats from Naha drop off divers and students in the water along protected bays. We then moved up the channel and into the Zamami harbor where humpback whale sculptures greet visitors, a reminder of the area’s main winter attraction. Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) are regular visitors in January to April and use the Kerama Islands as their breeding ground. Seeing spouting kujira is unforgettable and something every sea lover should experience. Passengers get on and off the ferry during a quick stop in Zamami before heading toward our destination – Akajima. The scenic 10-minute ride between islands passes beautiful sandy beaches, such as Ama (a great place for snorkeling with sea turtles), the Zamami Marine Park, a stunning protected marine area that includes Gahi and Agenashiku sand islands and then continues along Akajima coast to the popular Nishibama Beach. We floated under the arching bridge that connects Akajima with Geruma-jima; the small airport visible from our boat, as well as the rocky outcrops and rock formations of coral reef-laden uninhabited islands to the southwest. These islands are part of a chain of 22 islands that hold more than 70 dive sites within easy reach of Zamami or Aka islands. The waters around Aka are normally protected. Calm seas and sheltered bays make for easy diving and snorkeling. Visibility often exceeds 30 meters (100 feet), a real plus for marine photographers. The variety of dive sites means there is something for all levels with reasonably shallow coral-rich sites for beginners, superb drift diving and some caves and pinnacles for the more adventurous. Once in port, we were greeted by the friendly staff from Seasir, the pioneering dive operation started by the Jacques Cousteau of the Keramas, Hideshi Inai. We were staying at the Seasir Marine House, a wellrun dive-oriented pension, along Main Beach. Stand-up paddleboards lined the sandy beach and people snorkeled just offshore. There are maybe 250 full-time residents on Aka, so getting to just about anywhere takes only minutes. We A passed by some small minshuku before arriving at the Marine House, nestled back in a cool, tree-shaded deadend street leading to a garden and some green hills. Seasir’s senior dive guide, the highly energetic Shouji Aya, met us and asked what we wanted to see. The air con and Wi-Fi in the rooms was appealing, but we grabbed our dive gear and headed back to the dock. Seasir has a couple of roomy, seaworthy ships ideal for cruising to the local dive sites. The water surrounding Aka-jima is fed by the all-important Kuroshio (Black Current). Healthy coral reefs have a rich diversity of sea life, making the area a treasure trove for marine scientists, divers and snorkelers. About 360 fish species and 1,640 invertebrate species (including hermatypic corals) are found in the Kerama Islands. At the top of our “to-see” list was sea turtles. Luckily, Aka-jima has a nice variety of marine reptiles including green turtles, loggerheads and hawksbills. The protected sandy beaches are where they come every summer to lay eggs and mate. Our first dive did not disappoint. We spotted at least five green sea turtles and three hawksbills. Some were resting and some sleeping. One swam to the surface for a breath and came back to join us. The site was covered in coral heads separated by sandy channels. AUTUMN 36 2 0 1 3 Island Beat Japan Islandsâ€“Micronesia sports leisure activities 10 discover the 4 1 22 70 30 possibilities 50 www.picresorts.com 1 4 250 For reservations, contact us at: +1 (670) 234-2042 email@example.com 2 0 1 3 AUTUMN 37 Bubble sea anemones held clownfish, clouds of small copper sweepers covered some corals and filled reef cuts while sea snakes wove in and out of reef cracks and crevices. The dive staff was knowledgeable and had a good sense of humor, and we were looking forward to the dives ahead. For the next two days, we explored coral reefs. South of Geruma-jima in the East China Sea, we found some of the healthiest coral in the South Pacific. One site had a mass of sweepers, in a current-fed area, where red gorgonian sea fans and lush soft corals thrived. It was a natural work of art. We were led to an open bay near Ojima to dive a special seamount called Shimozone, home to endemic butterfly fish. Fusiliers made the deep blue canvas come alive with color and movement as we watched maguro and Spanish mackerel cruise the depths. Soft corals, sea fans and ubiquitous regal blue tangs completed the picture. We took many strolls and a few short car trips to see the jungle paths, overlooks and isolated beaches on Akajima. Aka is noted for its terrestrial wildlife, especially the birds, butterflies and a spider called the golden silk orbweaver spider that makes a beautiful web. I was also hoping to see Kerama deer. It is an introduced subspecies of the Japanese deer unique to the Keramas. Herds are seen swimming between the islands. These deer have been designated a national protected species of Japan. The summer sun sets late in Okinawa, and after dinner I was working off a bit of Seasir’s generous buffet by following a trail I hoped would go to a beach. Right in front of me a Kerama doe jumped across the trail. She stopped not far into the jungle, and I was able to watch her before she made her way deeper into the foliage. On our final dive day, we went to some macro sites looking for small, rare creatures. Most are found around Zamami Marine Park and in the shallow bays along Zamami’s shores where pearl farms now flourish. Our quest was to find sand gobies on the flowing rippled sand floor of the marine park. With a refreshing current whisking along the open spaces, we found some rare and beautifully colored gobies working with their bulldozer shrimp. Jawfish also love this environment, as did mantis shrimps. In the silty bay shallows we found sea snakes, yellow blennies, mat anemones with feisty clownfish and beautifully colored delicate hard corals. It is a mucky environment that consistently produces the odd and unusual. The beauty of the Kerama Islands is that it has a huge range of diversity in its dive sites and in the creatures you find there. That evening we watched clouds backlit by the setting sun. The clouds looked exactly like those on Okinawa’s main island and made a fitting end to a great week exploring the Keramas. We returned on a larger, slower ferry said to be more fun than the fast one. We went up top to a large open deck to soak up the warm afternoon sun. Modern-day hippies and vagabonds scattered across the ship’s roof playing the mouth harp, doing yoga and tuning out and turning on to music on their iPods. The sublime atmosphere illustrated the fact everyone who makes the trip to the Keramas has a good time. ✤ 38 AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 Island Beat Japan Islands–Micronesia 2 Wi-Fi 360 1,640 1 5 3 1 iPod ✤ AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 39 Island Beat Japan Islandsâ€“Micronesia PRACTICALITIES GETTING TO NAHA: International travelers usually fly to Tokyo or Osaka. From these hubs there are numerous daily flights to Naha on national carriers, and recently low cost carriers such as JetStar Japan have made it easier than ever to get to the islands. There are also direct flights from Taiwan to Naha. NAHA TO THE KERAMAS: There are two ferries that service Zamami and Aka from Naha: the Queen Zamami 3 and Ferry Zamami. Both leave from Tomari Port on Highway 58 in western Naha. Mitsushima is a small passenger speedboat that runs between Aka and Zamami four times daily. Note you will want to make a reservation if you are taking the ferries during busy times (Golden Week, Obon, summer weekends). Tel: (098) 868-4567. GETTING AROUND: Zamami and Aka islands have a limited number of taxis, but rental bicycles, scooters and cars are available. For motor-powered vehicles, a valid international driver s license is required. MONEY: Bring cash (yen). The only place to get cash on Zamami and Aka is the ATM at the post office. 2 58 3 4 Tel: (098) 868-4567. ATM 29 19 2 3 5 3 10 SCUBA DIVING The water temperature in Okinawa and surrounding islands is very mild. Water temperatures in the summer are warm, around 29 C (84 F), which allows divers to use 3-mm. wetsuits or even dive without a wetsuit. However, it can be cool below 10 meters (30 feet) even in summer, so a 2-3-mm. wetsuit is best. In winter, water temperatures rarely drop below 19 C (66 F) and most divers are comfortable using 5-mm. wetsuits. OKINAWA WEATHER & DIVING TABLE Jan Feb Mar April May June July Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Water Temp 20C / 68F 20C / 68F 21C / 70F 23C / 74F 24C / 75F 26C / 78F 28C / 82F 28C / 82F 29C / 84F 26C / 78F 24C / 75F 21C / 70F Air Temp Wet Suit Clothes 19C / 66F 19C / 66F 21C / 70F 24C / 75F 26C / 78F 29C / 84F 31C / 88F 31C / 88F 30C / 86F 28C / 82F 24C / 75F 22C / 72F 5mm + hood or thicker / 5mm + Long Sleeve Shirts / Humpback Whales / Sea Life Nudibranchs Cuttlefish / Weather North Wind / 5mm 3mm T Shirts / T Mantas and Dolphins / White Tip Reef Sharks, Sea Turtles (Green, Red, and Hawksbill) Big Eye Jacks / Rainy Season / Peak Season Plentiful Marine Life Occasional Typhoons 5mm AKA DIVE SHOPS Seasir Naha offers daily trips for Kerama scuba diving and snorkeling, mostly to sites near Tokashiki. Seasir also runs a nice pension on Aka Island and offers scuba diving, snorkeling, sea kayak and stand-up paddleboard. Tel: 0120-10-2743 (Toll-Free: Japanese Line); Tel: 090-8668-6544 (English Line). Web: www.seasir.com/en/index.htm (English), www.seasir.com/ct/ seasir-aka.htm (Japanese) Tel: 0120-10-2743 www.seasir.com/ct/seasir-aka.htm ZAMAMI DIVE SHOPS Marine shop Heartland offers daily dives. Momo, their Englishspeaking dive guide, uses a tablet underwater to communicate. Web: www5.ocn.ne.jp/~zamami/ www5.ocn.ne.jp/~zamami/ 40 AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 41 PHOTO ESSAY ROCK SHOTS Japan rock stars Sachi Amma and Akiyo Noguchi head to the north island to take on some of Hokkaidoâ€™s toughest climbs. By Eddie Gianelloni Sachi Amma sending Ganja Extension (8b+), the hardest onsight in Japan. 42 AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 Akiyo shows off one Hokkaidoâ€™s specialties, locally caught fresh crab. Sachi chalks up before getting warmed up. Sachi on Jingle Bell (8a+) in the Akaiwa Seigankyo climbing area. Sachi climbs the hardest route in Hokkaido - Mukamu (8c+). Sachi warming up on Tengoku Ressha (7a+). AUTUMN Akiyo on the hardest womenâ€™s onsight, an 8a called Esaoman. 2 0 1 3 43 T bia Colom n, w e egio esch B the r and ten f n o i le ions lers r opt ted peop trave d e f a e l s i r a ed an y l e n Wh b h o a k m c r m e a u w db ther res for p s of the k walls ha ll for ano roc orie he ca mem ing steep wer t s n a g en ble to ure. chall ally a ng advent n fi s I wa an climbi bi Colom is y Chr euve Van L o l Co hoto n P ich s by R Crow der rm a W he so e c Fa a i b m f T he driver of our white van grinds through his gears as we pass through the town of Puente Nacional. We’re in northwest Colombia traveling on tight, steep roads on the way to Florián and the crags of La Ventana for steep sport climbing. A puppy narrowly avoids the wheels of the van. We pass two men standing in fatigues holding rifles who give us a thumbs-up, indicating it’s safe ahead. The open glass window jiggles by my ear. We rattle by a colonial-style brick building, a painting of Homer dressed as Santa riding a tricycle, and sleeping dogs. The pavement ends, and we hit a rough dirt road riddled with sharp rocks. Thick jungle replaces city. The van springs creak as we sway and continue to rumble along. I hear a hiss as the rear tire drains flat. The driver takes off his over-shirt and crawls under the vehicle near a pile of fresh horse manure until only the soles on his worn brown shoes are visible. Soon he teams up with the passengers to replace the tire with the spare located on the roof. My traveling partners, photographer-videographer Rich Crowder and Adidas Outdoor pro climber Ben Spannuth, jump the nearby barbed wire fence and hike downhill toward a water source. Turning a corner, they come upon more than 50 people swimming and wading in the river. So much for thinking we were in the middle of nowhere. This is my second trip to Colombia in seven years, and I’ve come back because of the warm people, beautiful landscape and exceptional climbing. In the years since my first visit, it has only become safer here for travelers looking to explore places that, until recently, have been off their radar. It wasn’t so long ago that Florián, like many parts of Colombia, was not a place for visitors. Three or four years ago, if we three gringos were headed here, we almost certainly would have been taken captive. Back then, Florián was cocaine country, controlled by paramilitary and guerrillas, but as recently as 2010, progress has been made by the government to improve safety for locals and visitors alike. Violent crime is down. This isn’t to say the drug trade is gone; it is merely less prevalent. Colombia Drug Violence: Now and Then Most people associate Colombia with cocaine and violence. The far left guerillas, or FARC (Revolutionary AUTUMN 44 2 0 1 3 50 7 2 3 3 4 2010 AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 45 Armed Forces of Colombia), is a terrorist organization funded by the sale of cocaine produced in the jungle for $1,500 a kilo and sold on U.S. streets for $50,000 a kilo. FARC has been at war with the government and the far right paramilitary groups since 1964. Over time, the line separating the guerillas and paramilitary has blurred. However, in the last eight years as Colombia has become safer, tourism is up, especially since Juan Manuel Santos became president in 2010. Santos has used much of the national budget of this enormous country, which is twice the size of Texas, to place armed military on street corners to protect citizens and visitors. He also regularly holds peace talks among the government, FARC and the paramilitary. Government operations have incarcerated or extradited to the U.S. an average of 100 drug traffickers per year. Despite these actions, as of 2011, Colombia was still regarded as the world’s largest producer of cocaine and a major exporter of heroin and marijuana. I look at the remaining tires: they are split and worn. I’m nervous. We soon head off again, having used our only spare. Hours later, with the driver perpetually looking back at the recently replaced tire, we finally reach the cave. Once off the bus, we walk through a rock awning and into the magnificent cave, crossing a series of bridges to reach the center. A flowing river pours out from the far entrance, and through that opening we see the orange brick buildings and tin roofs of Florián. It is in the distance surrounded by lush jungle. As the sun sets, hundreds of homes surrounding the town light up like fireflies. This is my second visit to Colombia. Seven years ago a friend, Katty Guzmán, a highly respected member of the Colombian climbing community who I met in Yosemite years before, lured me there. She lives in the mountains in the quiet town of Suesca, located an hour’s drive from Bogotá. She talked about her country, with promises of cheap living, warm people, beautiful and varied land and quality rock climbing. That’s all I had to hear. During that first month-long visit, I made several lifelong friends. Colombians are some of the warmest people I’ve ever met. When they meet someone new, their engaging eye contact and outgoing enthusiasm makes it feel as though you’ve made a close friend. By trip’s end, I couldn’t wait to come back. The Window When Ben, Rich and I saw pictures of Florián on the Internet, we made it our primary objective for our visit, FARC 1,500 kg 5 FARC 1964 2,000 8 2010 2 2 FARC DJ 100 2011 18 7 5 46 AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 mainly because of the images of the nearby limestone cave called La Ventana (The Window), over a waterfall located halfway up a 2,000-foot face. For the next five days, we climbed at La Ventana, getting pumped out of our minds as we dangled and swung like monkeys along the roof of the cave on the many stalactites. We immediately met locals such as Emerxon Porras Jimenez, our guide to La Ventana (he also works for the local radio station). We also met an 18-year-old named Juan Carlos Camacho Barbosa and his crew who enthusiastically showed us around town. He unfailingly called Rich, Ben and me by the same name, “Macho Man.” Stranded in the Jungle We drove up the rough road toward the cliff in darkness. Tension was running high. My climbing partners Rich and Ben had been missing for hours. We were in a remote part of the northern Colombian jungle and several hours from the nearest town. They had been climbing in a cave full of stalactites. I hoped one of the hanging spikes hadn’t fallen on them or cut their rope. The locals wanted to join the rescue effort, so the car was full. I told them a few of us should stay back so there would be room in the car for Rich and Ben, but they objected, stating they’d rather walk back than miss the rescue. Once at the entrance to the cave, I ran ahead while the others waited for my signal. I checked one anchor and didn’t see any sign of their ropes. Then I crossed the river, hopped up to a point near the edge of the cliff and found their rope pulled up and piled on the ledge. I called for them, straining my voice over the sound of the 1,000-foot waterfall. Two voices were barely audible. I threw the rope back over the edge, but it kept hanging up in the jungle. After several tries, I finally felt one of them tug on the end of the rope. Soon Rich pulled over the top by using his ascender. Fire ants were biting him. He was sweating from under his helmet. He’d been there five hours. It wasn’t supposed to have ended this way. When they hiked out to the crags that morning with local guide, Emerxon, due to miscommunication, Rich and Ben had told him not to keep an eye on their ropes. Also, they had forgotten to fix the low end of their line. While an influx of tourists poured in and out of the cave above them, someone, likely unaware of what the rope was doing hanging over the edge of the cave, pulled it up. 4 5 ATM 1,000 5 3 AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 47 Getting to the Mountains A few weeks prior, I was on a plane heading from San Francisco to Colombia’s capital city, Bogota. On the flight I met Laura Hortua, an exchange student returning to her home country. She told me it’s rare for visitors to come to Colombia because they are afraid of the drugs and violence. When visitors do come, she said, many of the locals go out of their way to make them feel welcome. That was part of the allure for Ben, Rich and me. Laura explained that visitors often assume there are drugs everywhere, which is not true. But of course the fears of being taken hostage are not entirely false either. “Just don’t go to those places,” she warns. Then she gives me some pointers. “Don’t let anyone help you with your bags. Tell them no. Be strict. Another danger is the taxi scam. Call ahead to the taxi service and get their license plate number in advance. Don’t share taxis with other people. Otherwise, someone can get in with a gun, make you go to an ATM and take out all your money.” Twice robbers have broken into her apartment in Bogotá and taken everything. She learned the hard way about the taxi scam. Despite these incidents, she still chooses to be in Colombia, because she loves the people and the beautiful landscape. Five Areas to Visit Bogotá: The nation’s capital offers all the trappings of a major city; shops, boulevards, traffic, cars and people. Street vendors set up shop outside the ubiquitous red brick buildings on nearly every street corner, selling salted unripe mango, and there are pushcarts filled with cigarettes and lollipops. For about $10, catch the Teleférico de Monserrate cable car up to the 10,341-foot summit of Monserrate, home to the 17th century church overlooking the city. This is also a great place to watch the sunset. For a challenge, run up the 2,690-foot tall steep path. Back in the city, visit the public square Chorro de Quevedo for sightseeing, shopping and eats. Or visit Cafe el Maná (Café of seed/prosperity) offering alcoholic and nonalcoholic drinks—including the best cup of coffee I had in Colombia—plus delicious meals in a candlelit, intimate setting. Bogotá is a good place to stock up on fresh veggies before heading to the remote mountains. Rocas de Suesca: The rose capital of Colombia, this destination is nearly an hour’s drive from Bogotá. Alongside fields of greenhouses filled with roses is a giant 12 3 17 10 1 5 2,690 1 15 15 3 2 3 1 15 10,341 3 3 1 8 5 20 1,000 AUTUMN ✤ 2 0 1 3 48 cement factory. Visitors come here to hike along the train tracks and watch the climbers scale the sandstone walls. The 20-year-old Rica Pizza shop bakes gourmet pizza at about $12 per person, which is two to three times higher than the more expected price at surrounding restaurants. Other nearby options serve traditional Colombian fare such as rice, french fries, and carne (beef) or pollo (chicken) for about $3 per plate. For additional gourmet food, the best coffee in town and free Wi-Fi, visit Vámonos pa’l Monte (Let’s Go to the Mountains). The spacious/deluxe El Vivac (The Bivouac) hostel for $15 per night offers a clean, spacious place to stay, cook and hang out; it’s merely a 15-minute walk to the town center. For $3, you can camp at the base of the crags. Machetá: A nearly two-hour drive or three-hour bus ride from Bogotá, Machetá is famed for its thermal hot springs, called El Volcan, and the adjoining hotel. Take a cold bucket shower to clean off your grime—the only place you’ll find a hot shower is in a major city. Dogs are found at most country properties in Colombia to keep out the undesirables. Florián: It’s one heck of a bus ride to get here, but well worth it. Located eight hours north by road from Bogotá, this small brick town is close to a giant limestone cave filled with stalactites and a 1,000-foot cascading waterfall pouring out of its mouth. Eat at Restaurante Rosita and stay at the hotel next door called Hotel Guaimaral. For $3 per meal, you’ll consume heavy amounts of starch, sweet coffee (containing more boiled sugar cane than coffee) and beef or chicken, and for $5 per night, you can get some decent rest here— although earplugs are recommended unless you fancy being continually awaken by the sound of roosters. La Mesa de los Santos (The Table of the Saints): Take an open shower with water-fed down bamboo pipes while overlooking the Andes Mountains at Hostal Sol de La Mojarra (Hostel of the Sun of Mojarra, $15/night), located at the base of Cañon del Chicamocha. (Other lodging options are available at the top of the mountain, which do not require hiking down the steep canyon, but they lack the solitude found at Hostal Sol de La Mojarra.) Sleep in an adobe thatched eco-shack hand-built by the owner, host and a visual performance by artist Edgar Vag. Enjoy fresh veggies and coffee; both grown on site. (Most coffee grown in Colombia is shipped out of the country; it’s oddly a rare treat to enjoy a great “cuppa Jo” here). It’s recommended to have a mule carry your gear for about $5 down the steep hill to your accommodation. ✤ AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 49 PRACTICALITIES When to Go: November through February Money: ATM's have the best exchange rates Visa or Passport: Required and must be carried at all times Dangers & Annoyances: Avoid the taxi scam. Call ahead to the taxi service and get their license plate number in advance. Don't share taxis with other people. COLOMBIAN FARE Colombia is near the equator, so the variety and size of fruit dwarfs what you find in the States. Avocados are the size of grapefruits. Mangostino are purple and slightly resemble apples. They come from a tropical evergreen; you crack it open and eat the sweet seeds which are mixed in gel. Feijoa is acidy and sweet, coming from a flowering plant and looking like a cross between a lime and pear. Most places where we ate were tucked away in the mountains, and the dishes were made of what was locally available. This almost always meant grilled chicken, fish or beef, potatoes and fresh fruit smoothies. Fine dining is found in the cities such as Bogotá and Medellín. WEB CONNECTION Colombia Travel: www.colombia.travel Vámonos pa'l Monte: www.vamonospalmonte.com El Vivac: www.elvivachostal.com Hostal Sol de La Mojarra: www.hostalsoldelamojarra.blogspot.com Cerro de Monserrate (17th Century Church): www. cerromonserrate.com 11 2 ATM Chris Van Leuven spent 10 years living in Yosemite National Park. With Chris McNamara, he's co-written two climbing guides to Yosemite, SuperTopo: Yosemite Sport Climbs and Top Ropes and SuperTopo: Yosemite Big Walls (3rd Edition). He now lives with his girlfriend, Evie, and their dog Jake in Golden, Colorado. Colombia Travel: www.colombia.travel Vámonos pa'l Monte: www.vamonospalmonte.com El Vivac: www.elvivachostal.com Hostal Sol de La Mojarra: www.hostalsoldelamojarra.blogspot.com Cerro de Monserrate (17th Century Church): www. cerromonserrate.com 10 2 SuperTopo: Yosemite Sport Climbs and Top Ropes SuperTopo: Yosemite Big Walls (3rd Edition) 50 AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 WILD WEST DECREPIT By Michael John Grist ohn Wayne is in Japan. He stands at the stagecoach station of his little cowboy town in the Tochigi countryside, a moldy American flag draped across his threadbare head, waiting to reprise his breakthrough role as a stagecoach attendant. Inside his chest nestle vacuum tubes and wires, the means by which he once spoke and moved, delighting the masses that came his way. He is an animatronic mannequin, abandoned along with the giant theme park around him known as Western Village. Some joker has since unbuttoned The Dukeâ€™s fly, and stashed a plush red pillow down his pants. Such indignity, but he bears it as stoically as ever. Western Village is now a haikyo; a ruin left untouched and largely preserved since the day it shut its doors in 2007. A few weeds have grown through the main drag in J front of the saloon, a few doors have been smashed in, but it remains much as it was, much as its one eccentric founder dreamt it to be. I went there to explore and take photos. The stockade wall was tall and sturdy, the gate unbroken, but the door to the ghost house was unlocked, so in I went. Inside it was pitch black, and my flashlight made little dent in the gloom. I was startled when the dull beam settled on various creepified Western stalwarts such as skeletal pistoleers, the demise of a frontier dentist, zombified tomahawk-wielding Indians and, of course, more cowboys with their pants down. Out, and I entered the park proper. There, John Wayne stood between two full-size stagecoaches, an animatronic hostler who once greeted visitors to the park. Now, with his vacuum tube innards on display, he 2007 AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 51 looked more like the killer cowboy robot from the Michael Crichton movie, “West World.” I wandered down past the saloon, through its swinging doors, and found prop guns, whiskey and saddles still lying around. Across the dirt street was a fun-house with slanted floors and walls, then a West-themed game center, replete with a massive stuffed cowboy toy, presumably the park's mascot. I tried to pose him for a photo, but his head was too heavy and kept tilting over. ORIGINS Western Village was the brainchild of a Japanese businessman named Kenichi Ominami, who took a trip to the U.S. in 1970 and came away enchanted. Back in Japan he started a four-acre ranch where tourists could come for such cowboy-esque pursuits as horse riding, lasso practice and fishing. As time went by, he expanded it with wooden facades, horses and dusty thoroughfares, until it resembled a John Ford Western set. In time, he hired foreign wranglers and cowboys to populate it, and they put on shows similar to the parades at Disneyland, involving stunts, shootouts and displays of gunmanship skill, with apples shot off unwitting guests' heads William Tell-style. Through the 1980s, the park expanded further, as guest numbers rose to near one million per year. It was in 1995, around the apex of that popularity, when the Mt. Rushmore project began. It was to be the symbolic pièce de résistance of the park and pull everything together the way the Sleeping Beauty castle unifies Disneyland. At a whopping cost of $27 million, Ominami had the original Mt. Rushmore replicated at an exactingly accurate 1/3 scale, on top of a building at the edge of his park, overlooking the Shinkansen tracks. On my trespassing trip, I walked around it, hungry to take in the giant faces on top of a building. It was remarkable; it's huge, but as grand central structures that pull their landscapes together go, it's an odd one. First, you can’t even see it from within the park. Second, it doesn't fit all that well with the park's cowboy theme. Did cowboys wage shoot-outs on Roosevelt's face, or rustle cattle out of Lincoln's big nose? Of course not. Still, it was impressive. I don’t know how they thought they’d get the money back on their investment; they probably expected a long life ahead of it. They couldn’t know it would shut down in 2007, shortly after Ominami died. A window in the building's ground floor was broken, so I climbed inside. On the ground floor, there were teddy bears everywhere. Above that were huge, mostly empty floors where all manner of games would have lain in wait. Toward the top, there was a presidential museum, a trail of tears life-size diorama, and a replica of the Lincoln Memorial, alone in the dark. By flashlight, I could see his jaw was hinged; probably he once recounted, in stirring bass Japanese, the Gettysburg Address. Further up, I peered into the steamy hot president’s heads themselves. The inside of Washington's brain seemed to be a red inferno, as the sun baked his skin, and it stank of chemical plastic and plaster. The original sculpture in South Dakota is carved in granite and will never tarnish or collapse on itself. The Western Village Rushmore will probably be demolished some time soon, as its fiberglass-reinforced plastic faces collapse inward. Beyond that, there was Mexicoland. I had to cross the Rio Grande first, with a brook running down its concretetrack that split Ominami's property in two. On the other side was a full-gauge train track, spotted around with 52 AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 WILD WEST DECREPIT 2 1/3 1970 2 4 2007 1 2 80 1 95 2 7 1 2 Trail of Tears 1838 Population transfer 4 AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 53 WILD WEST DECREPIT plastic figures like a giant train-set: the signalman, Indians in the bushes and a windmill. In a shed at the far end of the park, I stumbled upon two full-size, genuine steam train locomotives. It seems Ominami had more money than he knew what to do with. The park became his personal playground, kind of like Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch. So why did Western Village fail? It had spectacle, grandeur and heart. But competing parks in Japan such as Disneyland and Universal Studios slowly put the squeeze on it. Fewer and fewer people came. It gradually died. But was it a failure? In the words of Kenichi Ominami himself (from the Outwest newspaper, 1997): "I'm an example of a self-made man. The goal of life is not to make money, but to make your dreams come true." From that perspective, he was a grand success. Western Village is his dream made real, and it still has a haunting beauty, perhaps infused with his spirit still— unlike other abandoned parks such as Nara's infamous Dreamland (a Disneyland clone that rode high until the real Disney came) which feel sterile to wander now that they're abandoned. Leaving Western Village behind, I felt the familiar blur of nostalgia and satisfaction. I'd seen all it had to offer, but a little bit of me remained curious, wondering what it might have been like in operation; mannequins talking, shootouts going down and buffalo steaks roasting on the pit-fires. I wonder what John Wayne would have thought about it, if he'd seen the great Rushmore heads and the steam trains and all the wild extravagance of the place. Perhaps, in The Duke's own drawl, he'd say, “It's getting to be ri-goddamn-diculous,” though perhaps he'd say it with a smile in his eyes. ✤ 1997 ✤ 54 AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 Guerilla Plugging: Part 1 ishing is not the kind of thing one thinks of as a clandestine activity, but I have been sworn to secrecy regarding the location of a pond I am bushwhacking through dense overgrowth to reach. I’m told less than a dozen anglers know of its existence, and their aim is to keep it that way. It’s first light, and I can barely make out my buddy Taka trudging ahead of me, sweeping his rod tips to clear spider webs from our path. From their size and number, it’s clear no one has been here for a while. I hear rustling in the bushes about 20 meters to my right and pray it’s not a wild pig about to jump out and pummel us. Suddenly the branches of a tree above the spot start rustling and, although we can’t see them through the haze, it’s clear we’ve come across a couple monkeys high-tailing it to safety. Yup, I’m in the sticks. Taka’s mindset is typical among Japanese F bass anglers who don’t think twice about making these jaunts to the deepest, darkest corners of the countryside in pursuit of big largemouth. Bass are his obsession, and he is willing to go as far as necessary to get onto a stretch of water that isn’t too pressured and holds some trophies. I am impressed with his dedication but can’t help feeling as if I’ve been transported to the jungles of Burma in search of lost treasure. We arrive at the pond, and Taka starts casting methodically, throwing a variety of plugs. About 30 minutes into the session, he realizes his cicada-shaped soft plastic lure is what the bass are interested in and he nails several small fish, but those are not what he’s after. I’m hot and getting devoured by mosquitoes, but the former boy scout in me takes over when Taka asks me to go even farther into the woods and loop around to the opposite side of the pond. On the way around, we get soaked and muddy and emerge looking like a couple of kappa holding fishing rods and camera gear. I feel silly and am ready to say this is all a bit overboard but, before I open my mouth, Taka shushes me as he ducks and makes a perfect sight cast to a big shadow about 30 feet down the shoreline. His cicada is inhaled in a violent splash, and it’s instantly clear he’s got a “chunk” on his line. A few seconds later, he’s got it by the lip and is all smiles for a couple of snapshots. For Taka, getting this one good-size bass today is what it’s about. I can appreciate the purity and simplicity of his endeavor but in the back of my mind am psyched, thinking it’s time to get back to civilization. Then he says, “Hey, now let me show you this even better spot on the other side of this hill.” (To be continued) AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 55 TRAVELER’S JOURNAL Among By Ted Taylor Buddhas and Maples magnificent views of terraced rice fields stepping down toward Lake Biwa, their harvested beds reflecting the gray sky. I follow the Hōdō as it weaves past small shrines sitting at the edge of the forest. Most have stone altars in front of the bigger trees. There is also a collection of small burial mounds momiji. I detour into the garden and warm myself with tea, then wander out a long path to some old graves standing in the rain. I follow another trail into the forest, again climbing stone steps toward the hondo. On each and every step is a small jizo (stone statues in memory of a dead child), each with a bib and a small pinwheel offering. Other jizo are in clusters and grids at random places in the forest. There are so many. In a lonely section of woods, a single pinwheel turns. I go over to it and pray to the soul of this lost child. Then continue to climb the hill. The hondo is impressive, with a well-kept pagoda off to the side. I poke around awhile looking at the statues. On the way down, the occasional pinwheel turns. I bow each time. Finally toward the bottom, they all begin to turn, as if acknowledging my prayers. I'm back out in the fields, beside a solarpowered electric fence to keep out wild boars. The road I've been on narrows to become a forest path. I walk up steps made from tree limbs laid horizontally. The final temple, Saimyō-ji, is smaller than the others, but the statuary is incredible. An elderly man takes it upon himself to acquaint me with their features. It is time well spent. I think of how quickly I sometimes move through temples, giving their treasures a mere glance. As with people, when introduced, they become much richer, more magical in their details. These, in particular, had been hidden during Oda Nobunaga's decimation of Tendai temples around Mt. Hiei, which attests to their advanced age. I knew old Oda had some issues with Hiei-zan, but I never realized his wrath spread so far. I'm grateful this handful of carved beauty survived to impress us, 400 years on. Access: From Kyoto Station, take a Meishin Highway bus for one hour to the Hakusai-ji bus stop on the Meishin Expressway. Cross under the expressway and follow the road toward the hills. The Kotō Sanzan Hōdō is well marked. After visiting Saimyō-ji, walk 30 minutes to the Kaneya bus stop for buses to JR Kawase Station. This 10km. hike should take about three-and-a-half hours. M aking my way toward the hills, I'm happy the rain has let up. Just off the bus, I spot the sign pointing the way to Hyakusai-ji, the first and oldest of the three Tendai Buddhism temples, known as “Kotō Sanzan,” in the Suzuka Mountains I plan to visit. The temples are linked by what's known as the Kotō Sanzan Hōdō, which runs midway up Biwa's eastern shore. After reaching the tree line at the foot of the mountains, I come across a tribe of monkeys. One of them is running across the road on her hind legs, holding some unidentifiable white veggie in her hands. The rest of the group makes a boisterous raid on the field just above me. An old woman walking down the hill tells me there'd been a raid by a troupe of around 30 last autumn. I climb onward. Due to the magnifying effect of rain in the air, the hillsides are a brilliant collection of color. The maples seem especially proud, eager to show off the results of their primping. I arrive at the temple and make my way up the stairs to the hondo (main hall), happy to have the place to myself. It's always a delight to rest in the stillness of one of these mountain temples. I break the serenity by ringing the large iron bell housed in the corner of the courtyard. The vibration shakes some leaves off a nearby tree, and they flutter around me as I pass. I drop back down to the lower temple for a stroll through the carefully groomed garden with out here amidst the fields, protecting the pots buried underneath that were made by Koreans who originally settled here in the 5th Century. The prevalence of shrines gives away the age of the area. The trail carefully avoids a grove of trees at the center of it all, graves can be spotted through the trees and signs warn against trespassing. There must be a reason there are no temples or shrines here, nor has it been converted into rice fields. I walk on and ponder the mystery of it. Far across the fields, a pack of school kids on bikes look like migrating birds. In the next village, a granny rides by on her Super Cub moped in mompe (loose pants) and bonnet. I worry about her balance, but she dispels any fears as she curls slowly around the corner. I come to the next temple, Kongorinji. It's a 10-minute walk from the gate to the hondo. There are quite a few people about, braving the chill wind while picnicking under the colorful Ted Taylor is a Kyoto-based writer and contributing editor for the Kyoto Journal. His work has appeared in The Japan Times, Kansai Time Out, Skyward and Elephant Journal to name a few. He is currently at work on a book about walking Japan's old roads. 56 AUTUMN 2 0 1 3 OJ Photo Gallery Share your Japan adventures! 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