Tuesday, January 02, 2007

1 dies on Fuji: 4 die from mochi-eating

Just another typical New Year in Japan. One person died on Fuji, falling 1000m down the mountainside which is now rather icy on its upper half. I don't know any details, but we have noticed on previous trips that a large proportion of walkers here equip themselves with crampons and not an ice-axe, which I was always taught was wrong - in the event of a slip, it's the axe that stops the fall, and crampons are worse than useless. Fuji is a very uniformly sloping cone with no precipitous falls, but it would certainly be a serious endeavour at this time of year due to the altitude and exposure. We were thinking of attempting it ourselves, but chickened out mainly due to my having not quite shaken off a persistent cold. Instead, we wandered up a neighbouring peak and enjoyed the sparkling views:

Meanwhile, 4 deaths from mochi have been reported so far. This is an old traditional Japanese version of euthanasia-cum-Russian-roulette, when old people are fed glutinous sticky lumps of pounded rice, which at this time of year is typically soaked in soup just to make it as soft and sticky as possible. Actually, everyone eats it, but it's the older ones who choke. Of course I'm not suggesting that it's as hazardous as Fuji in winter, in percentage terms :-)

In other news, the Year of the Pig started with a group of wild boars attacking innocent villagers. I suspect that the villagers had actually gone looking for some wild boars to harass or perhaps even barbecue, but I wouldn't expect them to admit that :-) The past Year of the Dog started for us with a stray dog chasing us along the road as we cycled off on a short holiday.

I'm not sure I want to be here for Year of the Dragon.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"in the event of a slip, it's the axe that stops the fall, and crampons are worse than useless"

I was once hiking up a glacier in the early morning and passed a guy who was trying to glissade with crampons on!

When I returned to our base camp, I learned he had broken his ankle (surprise, surprise) and had to be packed out on a horse. Don't remember whether he had an ice axe or not, but it probably would not have made a difference anyway since he was missing the most important thing of all -- a clue.