Uncovering Japan’s Hidden Gems

I’ve been consistently surprised by the depth with which I have been able to go to with the 100 Famous Mountains of Yamagata project. I know I go on and on about this project, but it has truly been probably the best way I could think of to learn about my own backyard.

I’m currently working on a story for Sabane-yama, which was known as a hard part of the Ushu Kaido, one of Japan’s most historically significant routes. The connections are uncanny. There is a direct relationship with Osaka Castle and the Shinkansen that I would never had guessed (well, the Shinkansen one you probably could guess), and all this from just a tiny mountain on the borders of a tiny town, Funagata.

Japan has roots that run deep. This is in huge contrast to NZ, where for example mountains don’t have that much of a meaning at all. To be honest when I started this project, I thought I would be climbing mountains like those in New Zealand, but it has turned out to be a huge discovery of hidden culture. Hidden, or simply not communicated. I have had to dig deep to find a lot of information, but it is there, and it is useful.

I feel it’s my job to dig this stuff up and make it consumable, and I’m trying to do that the best I can. So far on a personal level it has been quite rewarding, and I intend to keep it up.



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Sakata City, Yamagata, Japan 


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