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Journeys : Feb March 2011
• A JR Pass gives almost unlimited travel on Japan Rail services. It must be purchased before arrival in Japan. Check www.japanrailpass.net • Access to the Kurobe-Tateyama Alpine Route is via Toyama (from north) or Shinano-omachi (from south). More: www.alpen-route. com • RACT Travelworld can help you plan and book a visit to Japan. Call 1300 368 111 or visit your local branch. Chris Viney travelled in Japan with assistance from the Japan National Tourist Organisation. For news and information, check their website at www.jnto.go.jp Then it’s time to complete the traverse and begin the steep descent. By now, the rocky trail is busy in both directions with walkers who are making the shorter retur n climb from the Murodo Plateau to the saddle. Hold-ups are frequent and I use the breaks to scan the Japglish messages on people’s T-shirts. In the best examples, it seems that a bunch of English words are throw n up in the air then copied out exactly as they fall: ‘Epicurean We are looking forward to it Glossy lip cigarette I want to bind you You change me who was PURE WHITE With jewels named K ISS’ Others make a reasonable sort of sense: ‘Have you ever noticed how Mother Nature makes such a perfect playmate?’ Yes, I’ve noticed that too, on climbs from Fuji to Feathertop. And back in my tent that evening, I know it’s just as true in a comfortable Japan Alps campsite as it is in the mountains anywhere. Tomorrow I’ll be on the shinkansen bullet train, hurtling towards Tokyo and the neon cliffs of Shinjuku at 300 kilometres an hour. But for now I’m content to sip a cold can of K ir in, listen to Billie Holliday and look out through the Missing Link ’s open door, retracing my route along the white-creased ridge and watching clouds gather above the sacred summit of Tateyama-san. February / March 2011 17 Destinations Clockwise from top left: The Missing Link; snow ptarmigan, in the Valley of Hell; alpine wildflowers
Apr May 2011