Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Legends from the Alps

Review: an exhibition at the Swiss National Museum shows that folk tales have propagated themselves far beyond the alpine valleys

Loose scree and steep snow are the least of your problems if you want to cross over to Alp Blengias, an almost deserted valley in the Swiss canton of Graubünden. On a bad day, when the clouds scud low over the ridges, you might also encounter, guarding the way, a phantom rider on a ghostly palfrey. Just one glimpse of him, they say, will seal the doom of any wayfarer unlucky enough to meet him. Bearing this tale in mind, I chose a fine day for the traverse but still I couldn't help wondering if ...

"Sennentuntschi" figurine from the Calancatal, Grisons
Photo: Swiss National Museum

If you need to know what kind of supernatural terrors you might face in the mountains, then you might want to take in “Sagen aus den Alpen” (Legends from the Alps), the current exhibition at the Swiss National Museum in Zurich. It is guaranteed to send a chill down your spine.

“This exhibition contains photos which may not be suitable for children,” says a sign posted at the entrance. Nor are the curators kidding. A crude doll in a showcase (see image above) is enough to give anybody nightmares. Carved by nameless cowherds on a high pasture in the Calancatal, an obscure corner of Graubünden – that canton again – it almost thrums with a voodoo vibe.

The folktale underlying this exhibit recalls the legend of Pygamalion – the classical sculptor who carved a statue so exquisite that it came to life. But while Ovid’s rendering of this metamorphosis ends happily, the alpine version takes a much darker turn.

The Sennentuntschi comes to life: from the 1972 stage play
Photo: Swiss National Museum

Having fashioned a "Tuntschi" out of wood, rags and straw on their lonely alp, the cowherds ("Sennen") treat it like a companion. They speak to her, and some even – as the exhibit’s label euphemistically puts it – “abuse her”. When the creature comes to life, she seems at first to put up with her lot. But when the time comes for the cows to be driven back down to the valley, the Tuntschi exacts a terrible revenge …

In the 1970s, the Basel author Hansjörg Schneider turned the ”Sennentuntschi”story  into a successful stage play. But, when aired in 1981, the television version caused an outcry among Switzerland’s more conservative viewers. A so-called Action Committee for Customs and Morals filed a lawsuit against the television company, getting as far as Zurich’s district court before they were forced to desist.

Legends from Graubünden, we surmise, are apt to take a particularly sombre and moralistic turn. The ghostly rider of Blengias is typical of the genre: the protagonist, after cheating his brother out of an inheritance, was condemned to roam eternally in the guise of an equestrian ghost. But the Grey Leagues have no monopoly on alpine gloom.

Witches making weather, woodcut by Michael Greyff, 1489
Photo: Swiss National Museum

Whether or not related to the Sennentuntschi, witches are another of the exhibition’s themes. (Could it be that misogyny is a bit of a thing here?) A broadsheet (below) reports on how three “Hexen” were burned at the stake in 1555 at Derneberg, a locus safely far away from today’s Zurich in both time and space (Lower Saxony). Yet it was just down the road, in Fribourg, and as late as 1731, that a Swiss community most recently turned an alleged witch to ashes.

Books too could be consigned to the flames. For good or ill, legends have enormous staying power. William Tell is a case in point. Although the folk hero is supposed to have inspired the founding of what became the Swiss confederation, in 1291, there is no trace of him in historical records from that time. Yet, when a scholar pointed out in 1760 that the Tell legend bore a suspicious resemblance to a traditional Danish saga, the people of Altdorf publicly incinerated a French edition of his work.

William Tell, as depicted (post-Schiller) by Heinrich Jenny in 1868
Photo: Swiss National Museum

Being outed as a fable did nothing to harm William Tell’s literary afterlife. After Friedrich Schiller dramatised him in 1804, the Tell story went global – there is even a Tagalog version of Schiller’s play.

You could argue that the “Toggeli” has had a similar export success. According to the exhibition’s blurb, this is a spirit that “usually visits through the night, forcing its way through cracks or knotholes to settle on a sleeper’s chest. It weighs sleepers down or throttles them, and causes them to have nightmares.”

Toggeli in action, illustration by Melchior Annen/Peter Balzers, 1908
Photo: Swiss National Museum

It was surely a Toggeli that the Zurich-born artist depicted in his painting “The nightmare” (1781), which shows an incubus crouched on a woman’s chest. Mary Shelley was sufficiently impressed to have fashioned a scene after it in her Frankenstein novel. And Fuseli’s style, if not the picture itself, is said to have inspired the poet and painter William Blake. When it comes to the supernatural, the exhibition suggests, what starts in the Alps might well not stop there.

Fuseli's Nightmare, 1781

As for my excursion to Alp Blengias, I'm happy to report that no phantom rider was lying in wait on the pass. Grassy slopes led down into a valley completely deserted, according to the map, except for a single alp hut. Approaching this dwelling, it seemed that somebody had planted beside it a gnarled piece of wood. Or perhaps it was a crudely fashioned statue that, from a distance, looked convincingly like slim human figure standing on one leg, arms raised in the classical yoga pose. Then, as I came closer, the figure started to move….

You know, even on a fine summer day in the Alps, you sometimes get to see the strangest sights.

Sagen aus den Alpen, an exhibition at the Swiss National Museum in Zurich, runs from 16 December 2022 to 23 April 2023.


Peter Egloff, Pygmalion forever!, Blog zur Schweizer Geschichte, Swiss National Museum

Leo Tuor, Giacumbert Nau: Bemerkungen zu seinem Leben, Roman, Limmat Verlag, 2014.

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Images and ink (48)

Image: Mountain lake on Rophaien, Canton Uri, Switzerland, image by courtesy of Alpine Light & Structure. 
Mountains were not new to him; but rarely are Mountains seen in such combined majesty and grace as here. The rocks are of that sort called Primitive by the mineralogists, which always arrange themselves in masses of a rugged, gigantic character; which ruggedness, however, is here tempered by a singular airiness of form, and softness of environment: in a climate favorable to vegetation, the gray cliff, itself covered with lichens, shoots up through a garment of foliage or verdure; and white, bright cottages, tree-shaded, cluster round the everlasting granite. In fine vicissitude, Beauty alternates with Grandeur: you ride through stony hollows, along strait passes, traversed by torrents, overhung by high walls of rock; now winding amid broken shaggy chasms, and huge fragments; now suddenly emerging into some emerald valley, where the streamlet collects itself into a Lake, and man has again found a fair dwelling, and it seems as if Peace had established herself in the bosom of Strength.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Retreat of the snow monsters

Back in the 1980s, Project Hyakumeizan was astonished at the snow monsters on Hakusan. More soberly known as “juhyō” (tree ice), these are the fantastic figures wrought by the trees encrusted with the snow and hoar-frost swept in by the blizzards from the Japan Sea. You can still see them up there, but perhaps not for much longer.

Snow monsters on Hakusan, c.1981

The problem is the climate. Ice monsters will all but vanish from Japan by the end of the century unless climate change slows, warns Fumitaka Yanagisawa, a professor emeritus at Yamagata University’s Research Institute for Ice Monsters and Volcanoes of Zao, as reported in the Asahi Shimbun.

Using historical records, Professor Yanagisawa has established that juhyō previously flourished in a wide arc stretching from Hokkaidō in the north to Ishikawa’s Hakusan massif in the south. But this range has has been shrinking, both from southern end and, less obviously, from the north – where, in Hokkaidō, the mountains are no longer high enough to support the special conditions in which juhyō thrive, namely temperatures of minus 10–15 degrees, two to three metres of snow, and strong northwesterly or westerly winds with a speed of 36 to 54 kph, among others.

Yōteizan, Hakkōda, Zaō, Hachimantai, Azumaya, Hakusan, even humble Makihata – many of the mountains named by Professor Yanigasawa as current and former juhyō habitats also belong to the One Hundred Mountains of Japan. Indeed, the snow monsters put in an occasional appearance in Japan’s most famous mountain book:

I first visited Zaō when word of its frozen trees was first reaching the outside world. At that time, the only shelter above Takayu hot springs was the Kobold Hut belonging to the former Yamagata High School. After that visit, I went to the massif to ski every winter. After the war, however, I have not returned, fearing the crowds that must now overwhelm it …

It would be a pity if the juhyō were to join the Kobold Hut* and a pristine Zaō as half-forgotten footnotes in the history of Japan’s mountains …


Sakata, Tatsuro, Climate change quietly slaying Japan’s ‘juhyo’ ice monsters, Asahi Shimbun, 12 March 2023

Alan Taylor, Juhyo: The Snow Monsters on Japan’s Mount Zao, The Atlantic, 22 January 2020

*It seems that the Kobold Hut has survived to this day, now owned by Yamagata University: see this blog post.

Friday, March 3, 2023

“New ways” renewed

A forgotten path through Japan's Northern Alps is to reopen. Or perhaps even two of them.

Just at the point when it would have been too tedious to go back, the path vanished. A washout had gouged into the ridge, taking the trail with it and leaving a steep scarp of choss. We teetered across on sketchy footholds, trying to ignore the misty abyss below. “Another one of these and this will start to be not such a great idea,” I muttered. 

Sawa Control prospects the Takemura Shindo, c.1992

 We had been warned. Discussing our plan to take the shortest line back to Shinano-Ohmachi from the Mitsumata Hut, the hut warden had hinted that the Takemura Shindō – our intended way – had long ago fallen into desuetude (perhaps not his actual words).

The heavy rains and snowfall of the Japan Northern Alps will quickly obliterate a path, once it's left to look after itself. Had we thought about that, we might not have plunged down this dilapidated “new path” so carelessly. But, heck, we’d just come up the Kurobe River. And – as Sawa Control put it – we might as well go and take a look …

Thirty years after we teetered across that sketchy washout, some welcome news has just come in from Kyodo. Next summer, an even more direct route down to Shinano Ohmachi will reopen, thanks to the efforts of the Mitsumata Hut’s present warden, Itō Kei. For the past year or so, Ito has been restoring the path that his late father opened in 1956, at the height of Japan’s first post-war mountaineering boom.

Kei’s father, Itō Shōichi, started out researching aero engines for the military in the 1940s. After the war’s end, he turned his attention to the remote Kurobe region, clearing trails, and building or rebuilding several huts, including those on Kumo-no-daira and Mitsumata. He inaugurated the Itō Shindō – an entirely new route – as a direct way down to Shinano-Ohmachi, making the trip possible in a single day. And, for two decades or more, summer hikers thronged the path.

Building the Ito-Shindo in 1953
Photo courtesy of the Kumonodaira Hut

By the 1990s, though, it seemed as if a lull had fallen over Japan’s mountaineering scene. Older maps showed huts that no longer existed, and more than one long-distance path in the Northern Alps had fallen into disuse or even faded from the maps. Fortunately – after that sketchy traverse – Sawa Control and I were able to find enough traces of the Takemura Shindō to take us safely down to the Takase River valley, and so home. The autumn colours in that wilderness were unforgettable.

So it's good to see that, in parallel to Mr Itō’s efforts, the present Mr Takemura – a grandson of the Takemura who built the eponymous path – is also hoping to attract more traffic to this region. As the Takemura Shindō runs past the Seiransō, the hot spring refuge run by the Takemura family, this would help to revive the valley as a destination for hikers and mountaineers.

Judging from the Kyodo News article, the mountaineering scene is currently enjoying a revival. To pay for the expensive new suspension bridges for the new Itō Shindō, Itō Kei turned to crowdfunding – and raised 13.6 million yen, far exceeding his target. At the same time, the report says, he doesn’t want to over-restore the path. Instead, the idea is to leave some places for the hikers to find their own way.

According to a founder of the Japanese Alpine Club, Japan has both high mountains and deep mountains. The deep ones (深山) are where “no roads nor even forest tracks can penetrate, where you find your way along paths as faint as dreams, or along narrow ways, clambering over rocks and tree roots – such are the rigours and the rewards of the deep mountains.”

Now thanks to Messrs Itō, father and son, and to Mr Takemura, mountaineers will soon have two new/old routes back into the heart of the deep mountains. Just don’t forget your bear-bell.


Kyodo News, “Son reviving legendary mountain trail to fulfill father's dying wish”, 10 February 2023

Asahi Shimbun, 廃れた登山ルート、願う再興竹村新道開削の後継者ら (Heirs to the builder of the Takemura Shindō hope to revive abandoned mountain path), 29 October 2022

Kumonodaira Hut website: History of the Kumonodaira Hut


Wednesday, March 1, 2023

“The most beautiful pyramids of ice”

Translation: Horace-Bénédict de Saussure visits the Glacier des Bossons at Chamonix during the Little Ice Age

Like that of the Bois, the Bossons glacier is a spectacle of the Chamonix valley that most visitors will see. We pass below this glacier on the way to the Prieuré and there, at a small hamlet called the Bossons, which doubtless lent its name to the glacier, the guides await who offer to conduct travellers thither. 

Ice pyramids on the Glacier des Bossons
Engraving by Samuel Birmann of Basel (1793-1847)

It is a charming path, first through a small alder wood along the stream that comes out of the glacier, then through meadows and finally through a forest of fir trees. This last stretch is difficult because of its steepness, which is some thirty or thirty-one degrees. After overcoming this slope, the glacier is at hand, and one has the pleasure of seeing very close by the most beautiful pyramids of ice. As I have remarked before, wherever glaciers rest on a level plane, their surface is also more or less flat, but where they rest on a slope, their ice blocks topple and cram themselves together, taking on varied, often grotesque shapes and attitudes. Continuously washed by the waters that melt from them, the steep sides of these ice towers are absolutely clean and brilliant; neither sand nor gravel is to be seen on their flat surfaces, and they gleam a dazzling white where they reflect the sunlight, or a beautiful aquamarine green where the sun shines through them. Seen through the fir trees, which they often overtop, these brilliant and colourful pyramids make the most striking and extraordinary sight.

At the top of this short if steep ascent, one finds a stretch where the glacier rests on a level plane and offers a more or less equally flat surface. There, after crossing the dyke of stones and gravel that bounds borders almost any glacier, one can climb down onto the ice, cross the glacier and return to the Prieuré by a different route from the way up. As it is much narrower than that of the Montenvers, this glacier exhibits only a few of the great phenomena which we see on the Glacier des Bois. Nevertheless, there are quite large crevasses, and one can get an idea of the waves which we have compared with those of a rough sea. Travellers who have seen the Glacier des Bois can therefore dispense with the Bossons glacier but those for whom the Montenvers excursion is too strenuous would do well to go up to the Bossons, which is much lower.

Seen from the top of the Brévent, the Bossons glacier seems to descend directly down the side of the Mont Blanc valley. It is true that some optical illusions must be in play here, since the extreme brightness of the snow and ice, together with the absolute lack of aerial perspective because of the air’s purity, deprive the eye of any means of measuring distances, so that Mont Blanc, seen from Plianpra or from the top of the Brévent, appears to hover almost directly above the lower end of this glacier, even though there is really a horizontal distance of more than a league and a half. In spite of this distance, however, it is quite certain that snow and ice stretches uninterrupted from the summit of Mont Blanc to the bottom of the Bossons glacier. More than once, people have even attempted to reach the summit of Mont Blanc by entering this glacier at the top of the eminence known as La Côte, which separates it from the Taconay glacier.

Going up the eastern bank of this same Glacier des Bossons, one arrives at the Glacier des Pèlerins under the foot of the Aiguille du Midi, and then one can skirt the foot of the other aiguilles as far as Montenvers, making one’s descent along the Glacier des Bois. I did part of this route in 1761 but with too much haste; fearing benightment among these wildernesses, my guide made me descend with such haste that, as I was not yet fit enough to run through these mountains, I stumbled at almost every step. I did not return to Chamonix until well into the night, and this in a state of agitation and fatigue from which I had great difficulty in recovering.


Translated from Horace-Bénédict de SaussureVoyages dans les Alpes, édité et présenté par Julie Boch, Genève, Georg éditeur, 2002

Thursday, February 23, 2023

Chiyoko’s centennial

The Tokyo-based Fuyō Nikki Society yesterday published a blog post to mark the 100th anniversary of Nonaka Chiyoko, The Fuyō Nikki no kai is named after the travel diary in which Chiyoko recorded the epic sojourn that she and her husband Itaru made on the summit of Mt Fuji during the winter of 1895, while they took weather observations. She died a century ago on 22 February 1923, during a flu epidemic, at the age of 53. 

Nonaka Chiyoko in 1914, at the age of 43

The couple held out on the summit for almost three months, surviving both blizzards and beri-beri, a deficiency disease. As they eventually had to be rescued, novels and films have represented their feat as a heroic failure. Yet, in fact, they did succeed in paving the way for a more permanent summit weather station. From 1932 onwards, meteorologists lived year-round on the summit for more than seven decades.

That chapter of the mountain's history ended in 2004, when the weather station on Mt Fuji closed. After automated instruments replaced the human observers, the summit buildings were scheduled for demolition. But at this point, a volunteer group stepped in, with a plan to borrow the facility from the official sector and turn it into a centre for high-altitude research and education. And this they have done by setting up a registered non-profit organisation with an operating budget of some 30 million yen a year.

There is a certain symmetry here. By personally taking the initiative, Nonaka Itaru and Chiyoko showed that year-round high-altitude research was possible on Mt Fuji. And now, after many decades when Japan’s official meteorological agency ran the weather and radar station, high-altitude research on the summit is again back in private hands. Some hundreds of researchers have taken advantage of the repurposed Mt Fuji summit station duirng the summer seasons. But nobody spends the winter up there anymore.

Related posts

Chiyoko's Fuji

And see also "Eighty-Two Days on Mt. Fuji" in Alpinist, no 78, Summer 2022 edition.

Thursday, February 9, 2023

Tozan-shi (5) – Japan discovers the Alps

Among Japan’s earliest emissaries to Europe, who was the first to see the Alps? Was it Kurimoto Jōun (1822-1897), who stayed in Bern and crossed the Mont Cenis Pass while travelling on a diplomatic mission in 1867. Or, as Ohmori Hisao speculates, could it have been the four youths sent to Italy by a Christian daimyō in the tenth year of Tenshō (1582), who might just have glimpsed the distant Dolomites from some high tower in Venice?

Men in black: Kaga Shotaro and his guide on the Jungfrau, 1910

To mountaineers, the question is moot. For, alpinistically speaking, Japan’s discovery of the Alps had to await its first mountaineering boom, which took off in the Taishō era (1912-1926). True, Kaga Shōtarō (1888-1954), had scraped in at the very end of Emperor Meiji’s reign, when he made his guided climb of the Jungfrau in 1910, but it took a few more years for real momentum to gather.

Although Kaga was the first of his countrymen to summit a Swiss four-thousander, he was more tourist than alpinist – while holidaying in Switzerland, he was supposed to be attending an international exhibition in London, and he dropped his newly purchased ice-axe into the river at Lucerne before he even got to the mountain. But his feat found a ready audience at home, and a report duly appeared in Sangaku, the Japanese Alpine Club’s house journal.

View of the Bernese Oberland by Tsujimura Isuke

One who heard Kaga’s message, and at first hand, was the botanist and writer Tsujimura Isuke (1886-1923). In January 1914, Tsujimura made guided climbs of both the Mönch and the Jungfrau, thus making the first Japanese winter ascents of any Swiss four-thousanders. In an echo of Japan’s mountaineering past, Tsujimura’s party found Walter Weston’s business card tucked into the guest book at the Bergli Hut.

On the heels of these triumphs, nemesis followed. On the way down the aptly named Schreckhorn, Tsujimura’s party was avalanched. But he got to marry Rosa, the kind nurse who had looked after him in hospital. And the accident also made good copy for his fluently penned Swiss Diary (スウィス日記), which in turn promoted the Alps to the up-and-coming generation. “It was the Swiss Diary that taught me what the Alps were about,” wrote Matsukata Saburō (1899-1973), “and what beautiful realms of nature and human emotions are to be found there.”

Tsujimura Isuke

In the event, it was Maki “Yūkō” Aritsune (1894-1989), the son of a newspaper proprietor, who got there first. Arriving in England, nominally to study, he wasted no time in heading for Switzerland and making the first Japanese ascent of the Matterhorn, in August 1921. In September, he and a trio of elite guides from Grindelwald followed this up with the first ascent – by anybody – of the Eiger’s Mittellegi ridge.

In the same summer, the diplomat Hidaka Shinrokurō (1893-1976) danced on the summit of Mont Blanc, after making the first Japanese ascent. Later in his career, Hidaka was the last foreign diplomat to see Benito Mussolini alive.

It was the Mittellegi climb, though, that galvanised Japan’s mountaineering world. Coached at the Keio and Gakushūin universities by Maki, who’d brought back trunkloads of climbing gear from Europe, and inspired by his example elsewhere, student climbers rapidly upped their game, undaunted by the occasional casualty.

One of Maki’s most fervent disciples was the above-quoted Matsukata Saburō. The son of a former prime minister (by his third concubine) and a graduate of Gakushūin’s High School, he went on to study economics at Kyoto University. While a student there, in July 1922, he took part in the first ascent of Yarigatake’s gnarly northern ridge, the Kitakama.

Prince Chichibu's party traverses the Matterhorn, August 1926

In 1924, Matsukata moved to Europe to study and climb. In 1925, having picked up progressive ideas under Kawakami Hajime, his sensei at Kyoto, he published a book on Marx and Engels together with Kaji Ryūichi, another economist. In the same year, he joined the Swiss Alpine Club and, by basing himself at Grindelwald’s Hotel Adler, just like Maki before him, he positioned himself to team up with Matsukata in escorting Prince Chichibu – also notionally studying abroad – on his alpine climbs in August 1926.

Boot camp: Uramatsu Samitaro

Uramatsu Samitarō (1901-1981) was another of the gilded youths who climbed in the Alps during the 1920s – for, in that era, it was very necessary to be one of the former in order to indulge in the latter. Like Matsukata, he went to Europe as a student, but ended up spending four summers and three winters (or possibly three summers and four winters) in the Alps, reaching about forty summits in all.

To traverse the Meije, one of the more difficult peaks, Uramatsu teamed up with Matsukata. They were guided by Sam Brawand, who'd climbed with Maki on the Mittellegi, and Emil Steuri from Grindelwald. An epic ensued when a thunderstorm assailed the party on the summit ridge. Unfrazzled, Uramatsu went on with Brawand and Steuri to make the first ascent of the Wetterhorn’s South-West Ridge on 24 August 1928. The route is still graded D+. This time, the weather gave them an easier time on the summit ridge. As Uramatsu recorded in the Alpine Journal:

We lighted our pipes. I felt my thought was melting away into the endless Alpine sky. The valley of Grindelwald was flooded with the midday light. Eiger, Monch and Schreckhorn were sleeping under the blue sky. I was happy to be a mountaineer.

Matsukata could not share in this adventure, as he’d already gone home to Japan, where he took up a post with the South Manchurian Railway Company. But he and Uramatsu were still willing to stick their necks out. When the League of Nations came out with its Lytton Report in 1931, criticising Japan as the aggressor in Manchuria, the climbing duo, with a cousin of Matsukata’s, hastily translated the report into Japanese, hoping to produce a version that was less likely to inflame public opinion than the official one. Alas, their efforts to change the course of history proved far more evanescent than their mountain writings, some of which have become classics.

Kagami Yoshiyuki in full flight

Then there was Kagami Yoshiyuki, who went up to Cambridge University at the age of 18. Relatively unknown in the Japanese climbing world, he engaged the Swiss guide Gottfried Perren in 1929 to put a new line up on the southeast face of Mont Maudit. This the Alpine Journal recognised as the “Kagami Route”. A few years before, he’d traversed from the Dent d’Herens to the Matterhorn in record time, and climbed two-thirds of the way up the Matterhorn north face, more than half a decade before the Schmid brothers got there. He was equally proficient in skiing and, on the ice rink, he is said to have partnered both Sonja Henie, a top skater, and the singer Josephine Baker.

As Kagami’s record suggests, the leading Japanese climbers were now as proficient as the top alpine guides. Kagami climbed without guides too, as when he teamed up with Frank Smythe, a professional mountaineer, on a cold and dangerous attempt on the Eiger’s Southwest Ridge in January 1929. “I have seldom imbibed any fluid more gratefully than the hot tea from Kagami’s thermos flask,” recorded Smythe in his account of the adventure, “A winter tussle with the ‘Ogre’”.

By this time, of course, the Alps were almost passé in the minds of the next generation of Japan’s student climbers. Inspired by the first European expeditions to the Himalaya, they were now mulling ways to follow suit. But this is another story…


The prime source for this post is Ohmori Hisao’s chapter “Nihonjin to Yoroppa-Arupusu” in Hito wa naze yama ni noboru no ka, volume 103, Taiyō Bessatsu: Nihon no kokoro, Heibonsha 1998

Uramatsu wrote up his Wetterhorn climb in the Alpine Journal, 1930 edition, pp 260 ff.

F S Smythe describes his Eiger winter attempt with “Y Kagami” in Climbs and Ski Runs: Mountaineering and Ski-ing in the Alps, Great Britain and Corsica, William Blackwood and Sons Ltd, 1931

For Matsutaka and the Lytton Report, see Ian Nish, Japan's Struggle with Internationalism, Kegan Paul, October 2000, p 182. Matsukata is quoted as follows:

Around the beginning of October 1932, we were shut up in a room in the Imperial Hotel in Tokyo, absorbed in the task of translating the newly-published report of the League of Nations Lytton Commission on the Manchurian Question. The nature of the report was a matter of great concern for Japan at the time, and for three days we concentrated on the work from morning to night without once leaving the hotel, feeling that it was necessary to translate the document into Japanese as accurately and speedily as possible and to publish it.

Images are from Hito wa naze yama ni noboru no ka and the Yama to Keikoku illustrated history of Japanese mountaineering (目で見る日本登山史 by 川崎吉光、山と渓谷社)