Son reviving legendary mountain path to satisfy father’s dying want

Son reviving legendary mountain path to satisfy father’s dying want

Kei Ito, who runs a mountain villa in Toyama Prefecture, central Japan, has been toiling to revive a legendary mountaineering path celebrated for offering entry to “hellish” landscapes which might be on many journey seekers’ dream lists.

The Ito Shindo path is dubbed “the final frontier of the Northern Alps” and hyperlinks Toyama and Nagano prefectures. Committing to satisfy the dying want of his late father Shoichi Ito, after whom the path is known as, Kei, 45, has tried to re-establish the trail on which “folks can expertise nature instantly.”

Son reviving legendary mountain path to satisfy father’s dying want

Kei Ito, who runs the Mitsumata-sanso mountain villa in Toyama Prefecture, central Japan, is pictured in December 2022. (Kyodo)

Roughly 10 kilometers lengthy, the Ito Shindo connects Yumata scorching springs in Omachi, Nagano Prefecture, on the backside of the path and Mitsumata-sanso, the villa run by Ito, which was privately funded, constructed and maintained by his father till 2016.

After World Warfare II, the elder Ito turned fascinated by the Kurobe River headwaters and wild pure surroundings within the surrounding space and acquired a run-down mountain lodge, which he later was Mitsumata-sanso. However to try this, he wanted to construct a simple route to move development supplies.

From any departure level, it could have taken a minimum of two days to stroll to the villa, positioned at an altitude of about 2,550 meters, however the journey was lower to sooner or later through the use of the Ito Shindo, a route completely researched by Shoichi earlier than development commenced in 1953. After the route’s opening in 1956, as many as 500 folks would traverse it some days.

However when the groundwater began to rise as a result of improvement in 1971 of a close-by dam, the bottom turned unstable, ensuing within the collapse of components of the path. Steel on the suspension bridges additionally corroded from the sulfur dioxide that spewed from a close-by volcano, and by round 1983 the trail was close to impassable.

Mountain hikers traverse the Ito Shindo route in Nagano Prefecture, central Japan, the place blue water flows between reddish-brown rocks in 2019. (Courtesy of Mitsumata-sanso)(Kyodo)

A mountain hiker bounds throughout a river on the Ito Shindo route in Nagano Prefecture, central Japan, in August 2022. (Courtesy of Mitsumata-sanso)(Kyodo)

Kei, who grew up going forwards and backwards between his residence in Tokyo and the Northern Alps, was a freshman in highschool when he first trekked the Ito Shindo.

Sizzling spring sediments gathered on the riverbed within the form of volcanic cones from which steam rose in numerous areas, whereas clear blue scorching spring water flowed between the reddish granite rocks to finish the painting-like scenes. Moss didn’t develop there, and in locations, useless serows that had inhaled toxic gasoline lay on the rocks.

“It was surprising to see the hellish magnificence created by the dearth of life,” he recalled.

Shoichi’s solely need earlier than his demise at age 93 in 2016 was to revive the Ito Shindo. His son additionally needed folks to stroll the “world of demise” once more and began crowdfunding to rebuild suspension bridges, amongst different components of the path, final Could.

His bold venture created a stir on the web. Almost 13.6 million yen ($103,000) was collected from near 1,000 folks, far exceeding the goal quantity. By October, he had accomplished three suspension bridges utilizing corrosion-resistant supplies.

Keisuke Kobayashi, 86, a former worker of the mountain villa who was accountable for upkeep of suspension bridges and different components of the route within the Seventies till the path’s closure, is one individual keenly awaiting its grand reopening this summer season.

“It is a spot you may see surroundings that makes you marvel, ‘Is that this actually Japan?’ When it opens I feel it will likely be flooded by younger folks,” Kobayashi, who hails from the ski resort city of Hakuba in Nagano Prefecture, stated.

Within the rebuilding course of, Ito labored arduous to create a path that may be “adventurous” by deliberately leaving locations for hikers to search out their very own manner. The plan is to assemble hut shelters and different services in preparation for the path’s full-scale reopening in August.

Ito says he plans to reinforce the providing by together with guides to accompany seniors and newcomers to allow them to journey safely. “I consider that the path revival venture will act as a catalyst to encourage mountain tourism within the area,” Ito stated.

A mountain hiker crosses a accomplished suspension bridge on the Ito Shindo route in Nagano Prefecture, central Japan, in August 2022. (Courtesy of Mitsumata-sanso)(Kyodo)

Folks transport constructing supplies alongside the Ito Shindo route in 1957 after its opening. (Courtesy of Mitsumata-sanso)(Kyodo)

Mt. Yarigatake (higher left) seen from the Ito Shindo path in picture taken in 2021. (By photographer Mika Inoue)(Kyodo)