Saturday, April 18, 2015

"Characteristics of the Japanese mountain landscape" (6)

Continued: a disquisition on the aesthetics of volcanoes and alpine landscapes by Kojima Usui, founder of the Japanese Alpine Club

Mikuri-ga-ike on Tateyama
(Photo courtesy of Sunnybeauty on flickr)

When one compares not just Kami-kōchi but the Japan Alps in general with their European counterparts, it’s as if our volcanoes in some way and in certain aspects make up for the lack of glaciers in our Alps of Japan.

In the Swiss Alps, for instance, glaciers have created a wealth of mountain lakes but, in our Japanese Alps, the five pools on the summit of Ontake, Ō-ike and Nyū-ike on Norikura, as well as Midori and Mikuri-ga-ike on Tateyama can all be ascribed to the action of volcanoes.

Indeed, these pools are higher than the alpine lakes, and what they lack in depth and extent, they more than make up in the clarity of their waters. North of Yari-ga-take, below the granodiorite summit block of Washiba, there is a little crater lake around which scorched blocks of lava lie scattered like fragments of coral around a reef.

It is in such sights, I venture to say, which are hardly to be encountered in any other mountain range, that the special character of Japan’s mountain scenery consists.



Beta translation from Kojima Usui, Characteristics of the Japanese mountain landscape (日本山岳景の特色), originally published in "Nippon Arupusu" (1910), Vol IV, reprinted in Nippon Arupusu, Iwanami Bunko edition, 1992.

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