Japanese climb Nepali mountains
Buddhi Narayan Shrestha
Nepal is known as the ‘Himalayan Country’ all over the world. And Japan is called the land of the ‘Rising Sun as Nippon.’ The boundary of Japan is surrounded by the sea water, whereas the boundary of Nepal is surrounded by the land mass. Japan has over 6,000 smaller islands, of which over 430 are inhabited with mainly four islands as Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu. Adversely, Nepal belongs thousands of mountains, hills and hillocks having three main physiographic regions as High Himal, Middle Mountain and Southern Tarai Plain. Nepal belongs Mount Everest, the highest peak in the world and Japan has its own tallest Mount Fuji.
Nepal belongs 1,310 peaks and pinnacles exceeding 6000 metre from the mean sea level. Japan has 363 so called mountains which bears less than 3776 metre to the lowest 85 metre height. Nepal has the highest mountain in the world as Sagarmatha (Mount Everest / Quomolongma) having 8848 metre whereas Mount Fuji with 3776 m is the highest mountain in Japan.
It is an interesting fact that the highest mountain of Japan may be regarded as the low mountain for Nepal. Japan is located 5,095 kilometre far sky distance from Nepal. However, both the countries have a very close relationship in mountaineering activities, no matter how far it is physically. The high Himalaya of Nepal has enchanted the Japanese expeditioneers and climbers. So, many Japanese mountaineers have successfully climbed the high mountains of Nepal.
Large numbers of mountain lovers from Japan are regular visitors to Nepal since the ascent of Mt. Manaslu by the Japanese mountaineer Toshio Imanishi on 9 May 1956. Many Japanese mountaineers have climbed the high peaks of the Himalayas, including Sagarmatha. Ms. Junko Tabei from Japan successfully reached the summit of Sagarmatha on 16 May 1975 and she became the first woman in the world to scale Sagarmatha. She is enthusiastically praised by the people of all around the world for her achievement. She has climbed Mt. Fuji and Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps as well.
It is commendable that Nepal Himalaya has become a great theatre of mountaineering activities in these days also for the Japanese. Indeed, the mountains of Nepal have many facets that will continue to engage human endurance and ingenuity for generations to come. Mountains of Nepal Himalaya be used as a field where people from different countries can enhance their spirit of adventure, while also makes a strong appeal and effort for the conservation of the Himalayan environment and ecology.
The Himalaya is the ‘abode of snow’ and it is the youngest and highest mountain system of the world. It is a natural fact that the main Himalaya does not form a continuous chain but rather a series of lofty ranges separated by deep river gorges and high mountain passes. One third of the whole Himalayan Range or 800 km of its central section from Mahakalai Border River to Kanchanjunga massif traverses to the east lies in Nepal and it is known as ‘Nepal Himalaya.’
Mountains in Nepal
Nepal Himalaya has a panophy of 1,310 peaks and pinnacles exceeding 6000 m, a unique concentration of lofty dazzling summits. Thus, of the peaks exceeding 6000 m, there are 246 in the west, 567 in the central and 497 in the east. The number of peaks in Nepal by category of height are as followings:
1. Eight Thousander Above 8000 m = 14
2. Seven Thousander 7500 – 8000 m = 43
3. Seven Thousander 7000 – 7500m = 87
4. Six Thousander 6500 – 6999 m = 301
5. Six Thousander 6000 – 6499 m = 865
Total = 1,310 Peaks
Out of 1,310 mountain peaks, 326 have been opened for expedition till this date. Government of Nepal has a policy to open the remaining peaks for expedition step by step in future. It is to be noted that 112 peaks are still virgin, of those opened to this date. Nepal government has delegated the authority to Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) to issue the climbing permit of 33 mountain peaks among 326 opened.
Mountains in Japan
Mount Fuji is the tallest mountain in Japan, at the height of 3776 metre. The peak is located on the island of Honshu, close enough to the city of Tokyo to be constantly in view one of the world’s most populated cities. Mount Fuji, also known as Mt. Fujiyama, has a famous conic shape. Mount Fuji stands at the centerpiece of Japanese art and culture, from ancient wood blocking pieces to modern-day paintings and photographs. The mountain has long been revered for its nearly perfect conic shape.
There are 363 mountains in Japan having its altitude from 85 m to 3776 m, the most famous of which seems to be Mount Fuji (3776 m) and the lowest is Mount Komaki (85.9 m). Followings are the number of mountains in Japan with their height:
Number of Mountains and Height in Metre
21 Mountains Above 3000 m
33 Mountains 2500 – 2999 m
44 Mountains 2000 – 2499 m
89 Montains 1500 – 1999 m
97 Mountains 1000 – 1499 m
79 Mountains 85 – 999 m
363 Total Mountain Peaks
Japanese climb Nepal Himal
Eight out of fourteen highest mountain peaks, including Mt. Everest lie in Nepal. Nepal has been receiving lots of Japanese mountaineering expedition teams in Nepal. Following table shows the successful Japanese climbers to various mountains of Nepal above 8000 metre from the mean sea level:
Name of Mountains above 8000 Metre Height in Metre Successful Total Climbers Among Successful Climbers
1. Mt. Everest (Sagarmatha)=8848 m, Successful Climbers= 3344, Nepali= more than 1000, Japanese=113
2. Kanchanjunga= 8586m, Successful Climbers=296, Nepali= 57, Japanese=22
3. Lhotse= 8516 m, Successful Climbers=479, Nepali=123, Japanese=25
4. Yalung Kang= 8505 m, Successful Climbers= 53, Nepali= 6, Japanese= 7
5. Makalu= 8463 m, Successful Climbers=376, Nepali=82, Japanese=20
6. Cho Oyu= 8201 m, Successful Climbers=13, Nepali=0, Japanese= 74
7. Dhaulagiri= 8167 m, Successful Climbers= 451, Nepali=50, Japanese=17
8. Manaslu= 8163 m, Successful Climbers=844, Nepali=286, Japanese= 84
9. Annapurna First= 8091m, Successful Climbers=221, Nepali=57, Japanese=26
Total Japanese Climbers= 388
Nepali and Japanese record holders
Tenzing Norgay Sherpa, as one of the two expeditioneers, was the first mountaineer to scale the Mt. Everest (Sagarmatha) in history on 29 May 1953. He was the Nepali, but India dragged him to become an adopted Indian. Apa Sherpa from Nepal holds the record for most summits with 21 times, the most recent on 11 May 2013. Teruo Matsuum with Naomi Uemora was the first Japanese mountaineer to reach to the Everest summit on 11 May 1965.
Junko Tabei, was the first female to reach the summit of Mount Everest located on the border of China (Tibet) and Nepal. She was the Japanese climber. Pasang Lhamu Sherpa was the first Nepalese woman to climb the summit of Mount Everest on 22 April 1993. During her descent from the summit the weather took a turn for the worst and due to the bad storm Pasang’s life was lost.
Ms. Tamae Watanabe (73 years of age) succeeded in climbing to the top of Sagarmatha on 16 May 2002. She is the oldest woman in the world to reach the top successfully. She has always loved the mountains and has been climbing in the Japanese Alps and around the world for many years.
Yuichiro Miura (80 years) was the oldest Japanese male to summit the Everest on 23 May 2013. He is internationally well known as “the man who skied down Sagarmatha.” Min Bahadur Sherchan is the oldest Nepali Everest climber on 25 May 2008 at the age of 76. He held the record until 22 May 2013, when the 80-year-old Japanese climber Yuichiro Miura scaled the Everest.
Ms. Toshiko Uchida (71 years) overturned the record only months later by successfully climbing Mt. Cho Oyu on 1 October 2002 becoming the oldest person atop this mountain. Ken Noguchi (29 years), who has made a name for himself as a committed advocate for the environment, organized a clean-up expedition to the South Col starting from Everest-Lhotse base camp from 12 April to 22 May 2002 and brought down a large amount of waste material. He had previously made clean-up expeditions to Sagarmatha in 2000 and 2001.
Nepali Nima Chemji Sherpa was the youngest person and woman who summitted Everest on 19 May 2012. Nepali, Lakpa Sherpa holds the women’s summit record with 6 times (1 south and 5 from north). Nepali mountaineer Babu Chhiri Sherpa stayed for the longest time (21 hours) on the summit that spent the night on 6 May 1999 (summiteed two times in one season).
Prem Dorjee from Nepal holds the record for the fastest ascent from Everest Base Camp to summit with 8 hours and 10 minutes on 21 May 2004. Nepali climbers Prem Dorjee and Moni Mulepati were the first two people to marry on top of Mount Everest on 30 May 2005.
Ming Kepa, the Sherpa girl of Nepal holds the world record as the world’s youngest person to climb Mount Everest. She was only 15 years of age, when she reached at the top. The record was retained from 2003 to 2010; however, she still holds the title of being the youngest girl ever to reach the roof of the world. Ming made the successful attempt from the Chinese side because the Nepalese law does not allow climbers under the age of 16 to ascend the Everest.
Latest death of a Japanese climber
A veteran Japanese climber Yoshimasa Sasaki 59 years of age, slipped and fell to his death while climbing Mount Manaslu in Nepal on 26 September 2014. Rescuers have recovered his dead body. Yoshimasa from Kanagawa Prefecture of Japan slipped on ice, while climbing at 7,300 meters on the 8,163-meter mountain, the world’s eighth-highest mountain peak. He fell 25 meters down. He was a part of the 10-member HTB Mountain Professionals Manaslu Expedition 2014, comprising two Japanese, three Norwegians, three Chinese, an American and an Irish climber.
Japanese climber felicitated
Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) organized a felicitation program on 10 June 2012 in honor of Japanese climber, Hirotaka Takeuchi- the first Japanese to climb all the peaks above 8000 m. The chief guest for the program was Dr. Ganesh Raj Joshi, Secretary for Ministry for Culture, Tourism & Civil Aviation and Japanese Ambassador His Excellency Kunio Takahashi attended the program as guest of honor.
Takeucha expressed his hope that the success of this expedition will definitely promote Nepal’s mountain tourism in Japan. The chief guest of the program also congratulated Takeucha for being the first Japanese to achieve this record and wished him for the success of his future endeavor.
Finally, NMA President Zimba Zangbu Sherpa recalled the first successful ascent of Manaslu by the Japanese team on 9 May 1956. He also mentioned about the good relationship of NMA with Japanese alpine organizations like Japan Mountaineering Association, Japanese Alpine Club, Japan Workers’ Alpine Federation, Nagano Mountaineering Association and Himalayan Adventure Trust of Japan. He also expressed his gratefulness for having the opportunity to felicitate one of the greatest Japanese climbers.
International mountaineering activities
Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) and Japan Mountaineering Association (JMA) have a very good relationship with each other. Honorary UIAA Member Kazuo Saito of the Japan Mountaineering Association who initiated the establishment of the UAAA in 1993 to promote climbing in Asia and the UIAAs regional activities had visited Nepal and NMA last month. He suggested some points on the Nepal Himal Peak Profile, which NMA has started to prepare it.
The Union of Asian Alpine Associations (UAAA)’s 20-years special birthday was celebrated in a grand style at the group’s Annual General Assembly held in Hiroshima, Japan from 21-25 November 2014. The organization consists of 19 member Federation from 15 countries and Nepal is one of them. Ang Tshering Sherpa, President of NMA had led the delegation to represent Nepal and to make presentation on the activities of NMA. The other members were Mohan Krishna Sapkota- Joint Secretary of Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, Tulasi Prasad Gautam- Director General, Department of Tourism, Santa Bir Lama- Ist VP, Deebas Bikram Shah- IInd VP, Thakur Raj Pandey- General Secretary, Tika Ram Gurung-Treasurer, Churrim Sherpa-Board Member, Lakpa Sherpa- Board Member, Prem Gurung- Board Member and Bimal Naharki- Board Member Ang Tshering Sherpa President of NMA, Vice-President of UAAA and UIAA Honorary Member presented the activities of NMA in the general assembly programme mentioning that as the year 2014 marks the Diamond Jubilee of the first ascent of Mt. Cho-Oyu.
NMA has suggested that the government should waive the Royalty Fee for Mt. Cho-Oyu for that year. In the past 20 years only 2 climbers have ascended Mt. Cho-Oyu from Nepal side, so this decision to waive off the Royalty Fee may encourage and increase the number of climbers attempting to climb Mt. Cho-Oyu. Similarly, the same should be done for the Diamond Jubilee of Mt. Kanchenjunga and Mt. Makalu in 2015 and the Diamond Jubilee of Mt. Manaslu and Mt. Lhotse in 2016. It is important for the Government to celebrate these anniversaries as it helps in bringing media attention to Nepal’s tourism industry which will promote the peaks specifically, boosts up the image of Nepal and provides appropriate opportunities for Nepal to announce the developments and introduces new changes to improve mountain tourism.
NMA President Sherpa conveyed to the international mountaineering community to understand Nepal’s sincerity and positivism in addressing concerns and problems in Himalayan Mountaineering and environmental protection. He made International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation (UAAA) aware of Nepal’s vulnerability to Climate Change and the threats of Glacial Lake Outburst Floods. He requested to the Chairman and members of the international commissions, who are responsible internationally, to recognize the new 8000 m peaks of Nepal. He mentioned Nepal’s interests and pledging support to the project, as international recognition of these peaks will be greatly beneficial to the economy as well as employment generation of Nepal as a whole.
He drew the attention of Chairman and members of mountaineering commission, expedition working group, mountain protection commission and access commission- how to work closer with the UIAA and UAAA for better promotion of Nepal’s mountain tourism and protection of the mountain environment. It was discussed with the Chairman and members of International Ski-Mountaineering Federation to explore the possibility of ski-mountaineering in Nepal. In response, it was said that they are ready to give technical expertise and extend cooperation, if Nepal should require their assistance.
Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) also participated in General Assembly of Union of International Climbing and Mountaineering Federation (UIAA) held at Flagstaff of Arizona, USA from 15-18 October 2014. NMA President Ang Tshering Sherpa, 1st Vice President Santa Bir Lama, Central Executive Board Member Pemba Dorje Sherpa, representatives from Ministry Of Culture, Tourism And Civil Aviation- Secretary Suresh Man Shrestha and Under Secretary Ram Prasad Sapkota participated in the meeting. The meeting discussed on mountain environment, climbing and mountaineering ethics, access to the natures, mountaineering expedition, training standards, youth climbing and mountaineering mobilization, ice climbing development, UIAA safety standards, medical and anti-doping role along with mountain related issues. Sherpa as the President of NMA and Shrestha as Secretary of Ministry of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation of Government of Nepal addressed the General Assembly.
Ang Tshering Sherpa expressed that NMA in collaboration with the government to of Nepal is willing to organize Himalayan Host Countries meeting in Nepal in a near future. Both the UIAA and UAAA General Assembly 2016 along with the marking of historic events of the diamond jubilees celebration of first successful ascents would be ‘Brand Event’ in Nepal, if the opportunity to organize the UIAA General Assembly 2016 is given to Nepal. The Government of Nepal will fully support these events for their grand success.
The UIAA was established in 1932 and it has a global presence on five continents with 80 member associations in 50 countries representing about 3 million people. Nepal is the member country and Ang Tshering Sherpa is the Honorary Member of UIAA. The organization’s mission is to promote the growth and protection of mountaineering and climbing worldwide, advance safe and ethical mountain practices and promote responsible access, culture and environmental protection. The UIAA is recognized by the International Olympic Committee for mountaineering and climbing.
Japan doesn’t have high mountains as Nepal belongs many high mountains including the highest peak in the world. Various shape, size, face and figure of the mountains of Nepal lure especially the Japanese people. More and more mountain lovers from Japan should visit Nepal not only for the mountaineering; but also for adventure tourism such as natural sight seeing, hiking, trekking, mountain biking, bungee jumping, para-gliding, rafting, skiing, and also for pilgrim tourism to Lumbini, the birth place of Lord Buddha. This will enhance the mutual co-operation between not only the mountaineers of Nepal and Japan but also in the people to people level.♣
1. Harka Gurung (2004), Peaks and Pinnacles, Nepal Mountaineering Association, Kathmandu : 134
2. Mountains in Nepal Facts & Figures (2013)), Government of Nepal Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Civil Aviation, Kathmandu
3. Source: http://www.en.wikipedia.org/…/List_of_m.
4. Based on the text of Mountaineering in Nepal Facts & Figures (June 2013), Ministry of Culture, Tourism & Civil aviation, Kathmandu ( Data up to May 2012).
5. Embassy, of Japan in Nepal http://www.np.emb-japan.go.jp/…/hi..
6. Everest for kids http://www.alanarnette.com
7. Kyodo 29 September 2014