The blog of Tokyo based photographer and photojournalist, Damon Coulter

Mount Oyama

Japanese Sercow dc Mount Oyama-201405062594 untitled201405062584

On the last day of the Golden Week, yesterday, I took a short trip up Mount Oyama in Kanagawa with some friends of my sons. Quite a climb, for me, who has managed to avoid any real exercise for several years. My mountain lethargy is not  by choice of course, I love getting out in  the hills and doing a bit of climbing it is just that in Japan, with a young family, you seem never to quite have the time for doing that. Must admit that all the fresh air and sudden plodded altitude left me a bit dizzy at first. Hard to believe that it was something I used to do all the time.

Managed to get back into the swing of things pretty soon however and enjoyed the climb. The climb-down was not so enjoyable of course as my knees have become even less accustomed to jarring descents than my lungs are to stumbling ascents. But there was a whole rugby school on the mountain: 140 of the fittest, young students you could ever hope to meet and I managed to keep up with them and even look slightly less breathless at times, so all was not so bad apparently.

Despite my less than peak fitness it was good to be out in the wilds again. Of course in Japan the “wilds” are invariably over-crowded with people, especially on a national holiday. Another name for Mount Oyama is “Guardian of the Land Mountain” and it is a pretty holy place with a fair few tourists and mountain aesthetics (bottom picture) visiting the beautiful shrines that dot the hillsides.

I particularly loved looking around at the forest as we climbed. It was an overcast day which made the trees all misty and mysterious. Indeed yet another name for Oyama mountain is “Rain Mountain” and in the dripping undergrowth, as we climbed, we met a Japanese Serow (top picture). This animal is best described as a goat-antelope and is apparently quite rare. It is also a protested species in Japan and a national symbol.

The kids had a good day (middle picture) with their friends. I was quite impressed both with their determination and sure-footedness. And as my body did not complain too much and my own hard-won mountain skills began to kick-in I became  quite determined to build on the good fitness base I somehow still seem to have after 12 years of rather sedentary life here and get out to the forests and hills a bit more if possible.




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