Letters from Japan – Summer 2021

Mountain reflection on pond in Japan

Good morning,

The Tokyo Olympics is now over. Hopefully, the wildfires in my country are now also almost over or relatively under control. 

It was not until I moved to Japan that I could truly understand the impact of climate change. It is often reported that Asia will be among the hardest-hit regions in terms of climate change. Living in an island nation like Japan where your daily life heavily depends on the weather, one can easily see why. 

Summer is dangerously hot and humid, and the end of summer/early fall comes with the typhoon season, which often leads to nationwide transportation interruption. Winter is probably the calmest season in terms of weather events. Soon after the sakura/spring season, the entire country (except for Hokkaido) enters the rainy season, which often brings life-threatening floods. The rainy season here is nothing like I have experienced before. It is very different than the rain in Southeast Asia where there is this constant battle between downpours and sunny skies featuring picturesque rainbows. Here in Japan, it rains almost non-stop for six weeks, testing one’s psychological strength and love for indoors. It is troubling to see that even a country like Japan – with an exceptional level of experience in terms of natural disasters and relatively ideal financial conditions – is having difficulties dealing with the consequences of changing weather patterns.

After this rather grim introduction following six months of silence, time to share the travel & blog-related updates. I recently went on a hiking trip to Hokkaido – the largest, least populated, and northernmost island of Japan. It was my first summer trip to Hokkaido where I spent days hiking in Daisetsuzan National Park, also known as the “bear country”. 

Even though I knew that no fatal encounter took place between humans and black grizzlies in the official history of the largest national park in Japan, hiking solo in a bear country was still a little nerve-wracking. But the overall beauty of the trails, the variety of the alpine flowers, and the welcoming mood that the park passes on to the hikers under sunny weather conditions (very different story under rainy and windy weather) make up for it. This is my first post from the trip where I summarized my first hike in the region – the loop hike from Asahidake to Naka Dake Onsen.

Another relatively recent hiking trip the end of June where I hiked an active volcano with a group of eight other hikers from Tokyo. It is a relatively short (six-hour roundtrip) and non-technical hike but requires a steady climb. So expect to have a good workout by the end of the day making you deserve your trip to the nearest nearby onsen. I wrote more about this short trip – Hiking Yake Dake.

Some other recent posts on the blog (since I last sent this newsletter about six months ago) include my favorite hikes in Japan, hiking Mt. Miyanoura in Yakushimaand introduction of my neighborhood park in Tokyo – Mizumoto Park, which is beautiful in every season. One rare non-hiking related post is about Enoura Observatory (located about 1.5 hours away from Tokyo) by photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto, which is a very interesting place if you have some extra days during your trip to Tokyo.

That is all the blog-related updates from me and as always, I would love to hear back from you even if you only have time for one sentence. 

All the best,

P.S: You can follow this link for more Letters from Japan.