My knapsack on my back


There are many things that irritate me about life in Japan, but few irritate me more than the prevalence of mountain climbers here.  Mountain climbing is practically a national pastime here (hence the booming trade in annoying Tyrolean hats) and I’ve never met a Japanese person who hasn’t attempted at least one summit.  I hate them all, and do my best to avoid them, but they are everywhere. 

I thought the Miko Household was safe from these depravations, until this morning, when I was awoken at 6 AM by the sound of the Sonbeam gargling in the bathroom.  “Why are you up so early?  What’s wrong?” I called out sleepily.  “Nothing,” he replied “But I’m going to climb Mount Rokko today with my classmates.”  “What?”  I leaped out of my futon and switched on the computer to check the weather report.  “Do you know that the temperature is going to be minus zero there?  Do you really think it’s wise to go today?  Why can’t you go some other day?”  “I can’t.  It’s the schedule.”  “What schedule?”  “The school schedule.”  I spend several minutes interrogating him in this fashion, and he merely kept replying robotically “It’s the schedule.  I can’t change the schedule” ( AKA “I was only following orders.”)  He was determined to go.  I could do nothing but flail around helplessly and see him out the door with one parting shot: “I hope you’re wearing thermal underwear!”

Right now, I’m staying home and keeping a hawk eye on the weather reports.  I’m actually relishing the news reports tomorrow: “Group of students airlifted to safety: admit that they should’ve listened to their mothers.”


8 comments on “My knapsack on my back

  1. Karen says:

    Yes, you and I will sit in a nice warm Alpine lodge, at low altitude, sipping warm rum drinks, and wait for our foolish offspring.

  2. Petra says:

    Is this national pastime real mountain climbing or more along the lines of hiking up mountains?

    I am all for hiking up to the odd peak or two – but I would scream and run if somebody wanted me to do anything involving a mountain and more than a sturdy pair of hiking boots.

  3. Miko says:

    Yes, you and I will sit in a nice warm Alpine lodge, at low altitude, sipping warm rum drinks, and wait for our foolish offspring. Yes, with a few slumbering cats around, that’ll be lovely won’t it?

    Well, he finally got home at 11 PM. Anxiously I asked him about conditions on the “mountain” (I’m not sure if 30,000 ft qualifies as a real one) and he looked blank and then said “Oh, that. We didn’t go there, it was too cold. We went to bowling and karaoke instead.”

    All that worry for nothing. I am aged before my time.

  4. Miko says:

    I think it’s pretty much of the hiking variety (if the silly hats are anything to go by, and the prevalence of elderly people). I like mountains, really I do, but only from a distance. I went to Zermatt and spent the whole time sitting in an internet cafe and reading about the Matterhorn. It was lovely.

  5. Petra says:

    (I’m not sure if 30,000 ft qualifies as a real one)

    That would be 9.100 meter.

    Trust me, that qualifies as a real one. And there would be a bit more involved than just some hiking.

    Actually, even 3,000 ft is a bit more than just a mole hill.

  6. Karen says:

    I cannot tell you how big a smile I get when I think of Japanese guys in Tyrolean hats. Somehow, it’s just funny.

  7. Miko says:

    I get a big smile when I see them!

  8. Miko says:

    No way is it that big! Sorry, I meant 900 metres at the peak, not 9,000. Fuji-san is the highest in Japan, at 3,000 or 4,000 metres. There are hundreds of (locally) famous mountains all over Japan, and everyone I know has challenged at least one, and usually several. Mountain hiking seems to be an especial fondness/affectation of students, and elderly people. Fortunately I am neither (yet). I hope I never get that bored.

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