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Japanese Alpine Club

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JAC_JAN_13_coverThe Japanese Alpine News is published in English by the Japanese Alpine Club in order to bridge the gap of information between Japan and overseas countries.

With an emphasis on adventure, scientific research, and education, the JAC is dedicated to the encouragement of mountain climbing & exploration; the promotion of good fellowship among climbers; the representation of mountaineers’ interests; the conservation and preservation of the mountain environment, and the dissemination of knowledge concerning the mountains and mountaineering through Club meetings, publications, and a library.

The Japanese Alpine Club was established in 1905. Although there have been many changes in our society and economy during the past century, our organization has proudly maintained the spirit with which the group was first founded: to cherish the club itself, to continue to climb, and to seek a responsible path into the future.

The JAC, a national organization with 6,000 current members and an emphasis on adventure, scientific research and education, is dedicated to:

  • The encouragement of mountain climbing and explorations in the greater ranges of Asia, particularly the Tibetan borderland.
  • The promotion of good fellowship among climbers and a response to the multitude of issues facing climbers.
  • The conservation and preservation of the mountain environment.
  • The dissemination of knowledge concerning mountains and mountaineering through club meetings, publications, and Library.

Below is the JAC president’s letter published in 2002 in the first issue of the Japanese Alpine News. It has been lightly edited from the original.

President’s Message

It is a great privilege for me to send my message to our friends in overseas countries. The Japanese Alpine Club (JAC) is our proud witness of the activities and accomplishments performed by Japanese mountaineers. The JAC was founded in October of 1905 as only the 10th mountaineering association worldwide, and the first one in Asia.

The Japanese culture has long been able to harmonize the demand of the religious mind and the cravings that bind human beings to the material world. Mt. Fuji is still a symbol of the spirit of Japan, which combines respect for natural beauty and sacredness. Mountaineering in Japan originated in the religious quest, and is far older than mountaineering in the European Alps. It was just in the late 19th century, however, that modern alpinism’s emphasis on sport was imported from Europe to Japan. Walter Weston, a missionary who was a pioneer explorer of the Japanese Alps, had a strong influence on the founding of the JAC.

The victories of the Sino-Japanese War (1854-5) and the Russo-Japanese War (1904-5) encouraged younger generations and gave them have a keen interest in exploration in many fields. Under such circumstances a monk, Ekai Kawaguchi, reached Lhasa through Nepal in 1901 while seeking original Buddhist scriptures in Tibet. Rinzo Mamiya surveyed Sakhalin, Captain Gunji searched Kuril Island, and Captain Shirase attempted a bold access to the Antarctic. Modern mountaineering was rapidly prevailing in Japan too, and in 1910-20s Japanese mountaineers climbed in the European Alps. The first ascent of the East Ridge of the Eiger by Yuko Maki drew Westerners’ attention to the high standard of the Japanese mountaineering.

The first major expedition to mountains abroad was to Canada in 1925. The party led by Yuko Maki made the first ascent of the formidable Mt. Alberta in the Canadian Rockies. In 1936, students from Rikkyo University scaled an unclimbed peak in the Garhwal Himalaya, Nanda Kot. This was the first assault by Japanese in the greater range of Himalayas.

World War II ceased in August 1945. As peace returned and order was restored, the JAC launched a plan targeting two 8,000m giants of the great range from the Nepal side. A special consideration of the Royal Family and the Government of the Kingdom of Nepal afforded JAC an official permit to Manaslu (8,156m), which led to the opportunity of sending a reconnaissance team in 1952. Five years later, a party from JAC stood on the summit of Manaslu, on the 9th of May, 1956. Manaslu was an epoch-making milestone as one of the outstanding 8,000m peaks in the Himalayas. Other remarkable ascents by JAC in the last four decades include the first ascent of Himalchuri (7,893m) in 1959, a Sagarmatha (Everest, 8,848m) expedition that attempted Southwest Face in 1969-70, the 1984 first traverse of Kanchenjunga (8,586m), the Nepal-China-Japan Friendship Expedition to Sagarmartha/Qomolungma (Everest) in 1988, and the 1991 first ascent of Namchabarwa (7,782m) in the Tsangpo Great Bend.

Until 1994, the notable Japanese accomplishments of the previous half century were dispatched overseas through the magazine, IWA TO YUKI (Rock and Snow). The AAJ editor Christian Beckwith wrote in The American Alpine News of April 2000, “In 1995, a series of sources fundamental to international climbing information collapsed. H. Adams Carter, AAJ editor for 36 years and single handedly responsible for shaping it into the world’s preeminent mountaineering publication, died; with him went the global contacts meticulously compiled over those many years. Almost simultaneously, IWA TO YUKI, the monthly Japanese magazine devoted to world mountaineering, ceased publication. With IWA TO YUKI gone, no central sources of Japanese information were available to the West.”

Many of distinguished mountaineers abroad such as Mr. Nicholas B. Clinch and Mr. Harish Kapadia, who are well acquainted with Japan, point out that Japan has been establishing plenty of superb and excellent records in the greater ranges of Asia, particularly in China. They further mention that Japan has sent little climbing information to overseas countries. This has long been a matter of serious concern of the Japanese mountaineering circle too.

To cope with this situation, therefore, the JAC is now taking the first step to release semi-annually THE JAPANESE ALPINE NEWS in order to cover the accomplishments of Japanese pioneer expeditions, notable ascents & adventures, and scientific field researches. It will be our greatest pleasure if overseas readers kindly avail themselves of this new issue and three subsequent publications as such an information source from Japan. Thank you for your thoughtful attention and appreciation.

With the warmest good wishes,
Hiroyoshi Otsuka
President, Japanese Alpine Club

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