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  • MoonStripe Tee by MoonStripe Tee
Sport Climbing 07 January 2005 - 12:02:50 Posted by Freak      

Climbing in Japan: The way of the weekend warrior

Story by Vera Schulte-Pelkum
Photos Topher Donahue
You can find this article on Climbing n. 235 - December 2004

The Way of the Weekend Warrior

Japan offers endless opportunities for foreigners, or gaijin, to make unwitting fools of themselves. Although tourists usually get sufficient slack in the manners department, Topher, for one, seems determined to get it right. Clad in a yukata, a long bathrobe-like floppy-sleeved garment worn as aprés-hot-springs apparel, my photographer is trying hard not to do any unintentional dragnet fishing in his dinner soup with said sleeves while under the mounting influence of hot sake.

The drinks seem to be reactivating some of my language neurons that haven’t been fired since I moved from Japan sixteen years ago. Being half German, I look sufficiently un-Asian to be pegged as a foreigner, but I can make jaws drop by launching into the flawlessly posh Tokyo accent of my childhood. With no formal education in the language, however, I inevitably follow up with outrageous blunders in politeness forms, leading to further consternation.
The official reason for this return to my native country was an investigation of the Japanese climbing scene, with its increasing reports of strong climbers and hard new boulder problems. 


Yuji Hirayama

Hirayama warming up the old fashioned way.


As I try to register all the information fired at me during the dinner conversation, my translation to Topher has all but ceased, as has my Beta on how to deal with the multitude of plates, bowls, and strange critters that comprise his meal....


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