Yesterday I went on a field trip with one of my schools to climb Takamiyama (高見山), the highest mountain in the area. The mountain is about 1,250m high and took the whole day to climb. The kids here are tough as nails.
view from near the top
The mountain is covered with snow and ice almost every day. We had to fasten ice grips to the bottom of our shoes so that we could climb without falling down every two steps. The ground was solid ice at times and the wind blew constantly. I honestly have never felt wind that powerful in my life. The tree branches were glazed with ice and snow from the blowing wind.
Everyone made it to the top. Pictured above is a group of 4th graders. All in all we climbed from about 6 hours. It is impossible for photograph to indicate even a hint of how cold it was up there. Despite the cold, it seemed like most of the kids had a good time. Even in the most bitter parts of the trail they continued to toss snowballs at each other and slide on their bellies like penguins.
Shrine to the mountain kami (“god”) at the peak of the mountain. In Japan, physical features of nature and natural forces themselves (e.g. wind, waterfalls, mountains, old trees) are viewed as places where gods reside, even as gods themselves. Quite poetic. This is Shinto. Pretty cool.