Kenji for You Japanese

Interview with Hiroshi Okuda

You are climbing the mountains from Kenji's books one by one, aren't you?
I started to climb Kenji's mountains about fifteen years ago. At the beginning I was not organized. When I found the description of a mountain in Kenji's book, I put a marker there. I thought Kenji was great when I learned that Popocatepeti Mountain, which I thought was made-up, actually exists in Mexico. I went to climb that mountain, the height of which is approximately 5,500 meters. I was surprised that Kenji had that kind of information in those days.
Why are you interested in climbing Kenji's mountains?
There are several ways to climb mountains. For example, Oinomori is a mountain with a thick growth of underbrush. Therefore, many people do not climb it. There is no road. Since it is just 300 meters high, it might seem easy to climb it. However, because of the many thickets, I can't even find the marker of the summit. This is why this mountain is great, though. It is like a microcosm. I can boil hot water, drink tea, and fall on my back into a pile of fallen leaves. At such a time, I start to imagine many things, such as the difference between the way Kenji and I climb the mountain. Then at night, when I pitch a tent and sleep in it, I can really feel alone. In Kenji's works, someone is often sleeping in the open. Kenji slept while wearing his overcoat. When I lie down like that, it is a good chance for me to experience Kenji.
How could an ordinary farmer like Kenji climb a mountain?
One of ways to enjoy mountain climbing is called alpinism. For example, each time you climb the same peak is better to take more difficult route and season. The goal of alpinism is to make oneself strong. On the other hand, taking an easy path to the top and going back after lying down and watching the scenery is another way to enjoy the mountain. Kenji enjoyed mountains without alpinism. Both alpinism and Kenji's way are for pleasure, but the characteristics are different. Kenji assimilated himself into the mountain. He said "Take energy from winds and light." I think I can feel the most energy when I am lying down in nature.

Mr. Okuda's Homepage

Profile of Hiroshi Okuda

  • Was born in Sendai and lives in Fukushima
  • Is a mountain climber who loves to ski in winter and to climb along mountain streams and walk in thick mountain underbrush in summer
  • Wrote several books, including "Fukushima Hyakusan Kiko (Travel Notes for Fukushima's Hundred Mountains)," pubulished by Rekishi-shunjyu-sha; "Yama Suki no Hon (Mountain Skiing)," Hakusuisha; "Michinoku Hyakusan Hyakuyu (Michinoku's Hundred Mountains and Hundred Hot Springs)," "Yamagata-ken no Yama (Yamagata's Mountains)," Yama-to-keikoku-sha; "Miyazawa Kenji no Yamatabi (Kenji Miyazawa's Mountain Journeys)," Toukyou-shinbun-shuppan-kyoku;
  • Belongs to Tohoku Sangaku Shashin Shudan (Tohoku Group of Mountain Photographers)
  • Is a member of Kozan no Genseirin wo Mamoru Kai (Group for Protecting Primeval Alpine Forest) and Miyazawa Kenji Gakkai (Kenji Miyazawa Society)

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