My long awaited third season of Yama no Susume (Encouragement of Climb in English) is finally here. I am now on episode 3 and while I had little to note on the first two episodes, this one resonated with me from the first seconds.
Aoi’s mother tells her about the Hanno Alps, which stretch from Mt. Tenran (that the girls have already visited) near Hanno to Chichibu City. Aoi’s itinerary consisted of taking the train from Hanno to Higashi-Agano Station, climbing Mt. Tenkaku and continuing to Mt. Ohtaka. Aoi invited Hinata, but she was busy, so Aoi decided to go by herself.
“I made some for Hinata-chan, too.”
I’m going by myself, though… But Mom would worry if I told her that.
She is absolutely right. My mother also forbid me from going hiking alone when I was around Aoi’s age. For example, if you get hurt, there is nobody to help you or to go get help.
Choosing the course for herself, singing at the top of her lungs—Aoi rejoices at having the mountain all to herself. That also means there is nobody whom she can ask when she isn’t sure of the way. Fortunately she doesn’t get lost and makes it to the top of Mt. Tenkaku…
…where she meets Kokona. What a coincidence! Suddenly the hike is much more fun. Kokona is there to see the serow. The Japanese serow is a sort of goat-antelope.
Adult Japanese serow stand about 81 centimeters (32 in) tall and weigh 30–45 kilograms (66–99 lb). They are black to whitish, and coloring lightens in summer. […] Japanese serow are found in dense mountain forests where they eat leaves, shoots, and acorns.
In the mid-20th century the Japanese serow was hunted to near-extinction. In 1955 the Japanese government passed a law designating it a “Special National Monument” to protect it from poachers. Populations have since grown so greatly that the IUCN Red List of Threatened Animals ranks it “least concern”. Complaints from foresters and farmers led in 1979 to the 1955 law’s repeal. Since then the serow has had protected status in 13 designated protected areas over 23 prefectures, and has been subject to culling as a pest outside conservation areas. Conservationists have labelled it a “living national treasure of the forest”.
After reaching Mt. Ohtaka with Aoi, Kokona leads her further to Nenogongen Tenryuu Temple. This Buddhist temple, dating back more than 1,100 years, attracts worshipers seeking lower-body health and back and leg pain relief. The temple is known for its iron straw sandal monument, which weighs about 2 tonnes.
One of the greatest things about Yama no Susume is that the girls visit real places. Active otaku from Saitama province can walk the same routes.
From the beginning of the episode I was expecting a problem. Would Aoi get lost? Pass out? Will her mother realize she went alone and scold her? But nothing like that happened. It’s a slice-of-life anime after all. On the other hand, I feel like the danger of going hiking alone wasn’t made obvious enough. Still, it was an enjoyable episode.