its been about 20 years since the last comprehensive guide to japan’s mountain routes came out, and finding them for sale has been near impossible for the last 6 or 7 years. the older versions became classics, recording much about the Japanese attitude at that time, like a time capsule of climbing at the end of the bubble era.

this new book does away with a lot of the introductory stuff the old ones had – its a straight up guide. its also a summer only guide, in that it doesnt cover the ice and winter routes that made up much of the earlier versions. also, its a weird selection of peaks, showing big routes right across the country with a lot of new data and infinitely more detail, but big chunks are missing. included are great chapters on Tanigawadake and Kaikomagadake, showing a lot of newer stuff, but missing are supposedly unmissable peaks like the Tsurugi massif. presumably theres another volume planned…

Japanese mountain routes, with one of Tanigawadakes infamous faces on the cover

now note that these are Japanese routes, most dating from the era of Japanese hard climbing. these are not polished trade routes covered in pin scars and detailed with minute descriptions – these are gritty, wild, gnarly routes on bizarre gear that ride the features of the faces they are on, many see little passage year to year, some like the one on the cover have claimed a lot of lives. this is Japan’s soul of climbing in its unique style. these routes say a lot about the timeline of the country’s climbing right up to today. these are the routes the Giri Giri Boys graduated thru, and names like Yuji Hirayama are throughout the book. any international climber wanting to get their head around the enigma of Japanese climbing should start with this book.

of course its written only in Japanese….