Summer on Japan's Southern Alps *RERUN
The Southern Alps are located in the middle of the Japanese archipelago. Mountain ranges peaking at an altitude of 3,000 meters continue for over 120 kilometers, which encompass the three prefectures; Yamanashi, Nagano and Shizuoka. The Southern Alps originated 40 million years ago and 100,000 climbers visit the mountains every year. Climbing the Southern Alps is best enjoyed over the course of a few days, while staying at mountain huts.

A Mountain of Faith

Mt. Shichimen is a mountain of faith where the Buddhist priest Nichiren built a temple in 1274. At the foot of the mountain is the Akasawa settlement, which flourished as a lodging ground for believers of the Nichiren Buddhism sect visiting the mountain. As many as 30,000 worshipers climb the mountain every summer. There is a proprietress of a long-established inn who makes thousands of rice balls every summer for the pilgrims to eat. Two rice balls and some pickles. That may not seem much, but it is a good lunch for the pilgrims.

Fields Protected by Amulets

The Furuya settlement is located in a great canyon within the Southern Alps. Anything bringing misfortunes to people is called "Mushi" in this area, and has been feared. Since ancient times, the crops in the fields of this settlement have been protected by amulets restraining the Mushi. The amulets, which are adorned with written scripts from the Nichiren Buddhism Lotus Sutra, are replaced in every August praying for a good harvest.

A Growing Rock Wall

It was 40 million years ago when the Southern Alps began to form. The ocean floor plate struck the continent to create a geological upheaval. The Southern Alps is still growing by 4 millimeters each year. Among the mountain ranges, the 3,193-meter-high Mt. Kita is the second highest mountain in Japan after Mt. Fuji. The "Buttress," a 600-meter-high large rock wall, stretches up to its summit.