The One Hundred Mountains of Japan were never meant to be definitive, even if they're now marked on every Japanese hiking map. When Nihon Hyakumeizan came out in 1964, the author Fukada Kyūya said that, if the book were reprinted, he might well change a mountain or two. His contemporaries didn't take his list too seriously either. The whole idea was no more than "the witty conceit of a literary man", as scholar/alpinist Imanishi Kinji remarked.
|Iwasuge-yama in Nagano - once a Meizan, but no more (photo: Wikipedia)|
In the afterword to his book, Fukada makes it clear that his choice is an entirely personal one. Moreover, his taste in mountains may well have changed with every peak he climbed:
On the way to Hoken-dake.
Choosing is always difficult: Fukada's words are borne out by the pre-history of his most famous book. He made his first attempt at selecting one hundred eminent mountains in the late 1930s. Of the twenty or so that he wrote up before the series was abandoned (and the magazine folded), four didn't make it into the canonical post-war Hyakumeizan - for those who might like to climb them, the ones that fell by the wayside were Iwasuge-yama, Hōken-dake, Tarō-yama, and Yu-no-maru.
As related elsewhere on this blog, what we know as today's Nihon Hyakumeizan started as another, completely new, series of monthly articles, published between 1959 and 1964 in Yama to Kōgen magazine. Then these articles were collected in a book. But not quite all of them - for some reason, Fukada decided to drop one of the magazine articles and replace it with an essay about a different mountain.
The "new" mountain is Oku-Shirane-san (Chapter 37 of the book), a volcano in the Nikkō region. And the one that was dropped was Ariake-yama, in the Japan Northern Alps. That, of courses, raises an intriguing question -why was Ariake, a handsome triple-crowned peak, deep-sixed? So that readers can make up their own minds, a translation of the original article will be published on this blog soon.
Or, better still, you could climb the mountain yourself. You might think of it as Hyakumeizan number 101.
Ohmori Hisao, Yama no tabi, Hon no tabi (A journey in mountains and books), Heibonsha 2007.