Climbing the One Hundred Mountains of Japan without fossil fuels
First, there was Tim Macartney-Snape's sea-to-summit, on-foot-all-the-way ascent of Mt Everest in 1990. Then came Göran Kropp's solo, unsupported, ascent of the same in May 1996 - without bottled oxygen and after cycling to Nepal all the way from Sweden. After such precedents, it was all but inevitable that somebody would one day apply the same thoroughgoing ethic to Japan's One Hundred Mountains.
That somebody turned out to be Tanaka Yōki, a thirty-year old self-styled "adventure racer", who climbed the One Hundred Mountains of Japan last year using only "human power". Starting out on 1 April on the southernmost of the peaks, Miyanoura-dake on Yakushima, he completed his 100th mountain on Rishiri-dake, at the northern tip of Hokkaidō, 208 days later, on 26 October.
"Human power" means what it says. Tanaka not only walked between mountains, trashing fifteen pairs of running shoes en route, but paddled a sea kayak over the sea crossings between Yakushima, Kyūshū, Shikoku, Honshū and Hokkaidō. "Using just my own motive power meant that I felt the full force of the changing seasons and Japan's beautiful nature," he said, adding that he was relieved when the journey was over.
Tanaka was born in Saitama, but his father moved the family to Furano in Hokkaidō when he was still a toddler - it seems that his father was captivated by the portrayal of the northern island in the TV soap drama, "Kita no kuni kara". He competed in cross-country skiing at a national level while still a student and later branched out into adventure racing, twice taking part in the Patagonia Expedition Race.
His human-powered "Great Traverse" was filmed by NHK for a television series. It also coincided with the 50th anniversary of the first publication of the original Nihon Hyakumeizan, although that might have been accidental.
Photos are from NHK's Great Traverse website