I Climbed Mt. Akaishidake and Met a Japanese Serow!

YUGA KURITA Japanese Serow_9E40668Nikon D800E w/ SIGMA ART 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM

The Japanese serows are rare animals. It is quite rare to see them even for a person like me who often lurks in mountains. They went nearly extinct in the 50’s. The Japanese government designated them as a “Special National Monument” and prohibited the hunting of the serow. Since then, the number of the serows increased. If you’re lucky, you might meet them in the country like I did.

Actually, it was the second time for me to meet them. The first time was the day before the day I took this shot. I climbed Mount Akaishidake (3,120m/10,240ft). It’s already November.Lodges in the mountain are already closed. So you need to carry your own sleeping bag and tent (or something similar) to get to the top of Mt. Akaishidake in this season.  It wasn’t easy mountaineering for me as the summit was frozen and rather slippery but the snow wasn’t thick enough for crampons.

After shooting Fuji from the top of the mountain in the morning, I went down to the forest road spending 8 hours. But this forest road (Higashimata Rindo) is exclusively used by some people and regrettably I’m not one of them. So I had to walk another 7 hours to the place where I parked my car. Honestly speaking, I don’t understand why this road is exclusively occupied by a small number of privileged people. The only way for normal people to avoid the additional 18km walk on the forest road is to stay at one of the lodges run by Tokai Forest. Then, they’ll let you ride on their bus. If you don’t want to stay at their lodges, you gotta walk for 12 miles. I sense the smell of corruption here. I wouldn’t surprise if some officials of the Shizuoka City Government get money from the company to create this situation that is very favourable to the company.

Anyway, I walked for 15 hours. I thought I would die from the fatigue but somehow I survived. I wanted to sleep in my car right away. But I drove my car because I wanted 3G connectivity to let my buddy know that I’m alive.  Then I met, for the first time in my life, a Japanese serow. Before I met the serow, I saw one bear and two deers. There’re a lot of animals in mountains but the serow is very rare. I stopped my car and gazed at the serow. He also gazed at me and didn’t even budge. We stared at each other for a minute and I left there. I didn’t shoot him ’cause my camera was in my backpack, which was stored in the trunk of the car. In addition, it was pitch dark already. I drove my car for about 10 or 15 miles and parked my car at a small lot by the road. Then, I collapsed into the reclined driving seat of my car and literally slept like a log. It was a hard day’s night.

I woke up at dawn. Surprisingly, my fatigue went away and I felt energised. I was pretty amazed at the tremendous healing power of sleep.  I ignited my car and drove my car again heading back home. Then, I met him again! or I met another serow. This time, It was already bright and I took this shot with my Nikon. Actually, I took many shots because he didn’t run away. I could get very close to the serow. I thought I should try to frighten him so that he understand that human beings are dangerous. But I couldn’t ’cause he was too lovely!

I wondered if this endangered species wanted to convey a message to me so suddenly appeared in front of me twice in a row. I stared into his eyes to read the message. But what I felt was pure emptiness or neutrality. That might’ve been the message though. What does the message mean? ‘Let it be.’

Yuga Kurita Mount Akaishidake South Alps Japan Night_9E40335
Nikon D800E w/ SIGMA ART 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM

By the way, shooting from the top of Mt. Akaishidake was nothing but pure bliss. All my fatigue and resentment just vanished away. The above shot shows Mt. Ko-Akashidake, Mt. Warusawa and some great peaks in the South Alps.

Yuga Kurita Mount Akaishidake Iida City Full Moon_9E40351Nikon D800E w/ SIGMA ART 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM

The moon was nearly full. I could move about on the summit without a headlight.
Yuga Kurita Mount Fuji Akaishidake South Alps Japan Moonlight Shadow_9E40345
Nikon D800E w/ SIGMA ART 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM

The moon created the huge shadow of Mt. Akaishidake. If you enlarge the picture and see it closely, you see the shadow of a man standing on the top of the mountain. That’s me =)

Yuga Kurita Mount Fuji Akaishidake a Dynamic Sea of Clouds_9E40412
Nikon D800E w/ SIGMA ART 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM

A sea of clouds dynamically changed its shape. Fuji was so majestic and divine.

Yuga Kurita Mount Fuji Sunrise Akaishidake_9E40503
Nikon D800E w/ SIGMA ART 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM

Here comes the sun. I greeted Amaterasu and turn back to see the world behind me.

Yuga Kurita the Shadow of Mount Akaishidake Sunrise_9E40541
Nikon D800E w/ SIGMA ART 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM

The sun created the shadow of Mount Akaishidake this time! So I saw the shadows created by the moon and the sun. What a morning!

Canon PowerShot S200

I saw beautiful autumn leaves while walking up the Higashimata forest road on my way to Mt. Akaishidake. Additional 22 miles of walking might not be a bad thing at all at the end of the day.


  1. Olli says:

    Very nice pictures! Thanks for sharing! The picture of the Sero is very interesting.

  2. 江頭美鶴 says:


  3. 何時も素敵な写真をありがとうございます
    大変共感致しました myisann

  4. Dan Gries says:

    Beautiful pictures, and a very nice account of your adventure. How wonderful that you are able to have these experiences in your life!