FRI NIGHT VID: Sawanobori - Climbing Waterfalls in Japan

Our Friday Night Video this week is a trip to Japan to climb the country's highest waterfall: Shomyo Falls in Toyama. Sawanobori is the Japanese art of climbing a mountain river to its source, involving scrambling up gullies, ravines and waterfalls. As a sport, sawanobori has been practised for over 100 years, but rivers have long played a crucial role in Japan's mountainous jungle regions as the paths of least resistance for transit. Waterfalls are also sacred places in Japan, believed to be the dwellings of gods. James Pearson, Caroline Ciavaldini, Matty Hong, Yuji Hirayama and Toru Nakajima take on the challenge.

Traditionally, climbers wore woven straw sandals (waraji) and robes, but today, participants are fortunate to benefit from modern equipment: waterproof shells, 'ninja boots' (as James calls them) with felt soles and hoof-like toes, and rubber kitchen gloves (better than the expensive purpose-built sawanobori gloves, Toru reportedly advised James). Despite all this gear, the likelihood remains that you'll get a more than a bit wet...


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Yuji Hirayama
Saitama-ken

Yuji Hirayama, born on February 23, 1969 is a Japanese rock climber who has excelled in most forms of the sport since the mid-1980s. He has won World Cups, climbed up to 9a+, set speed records on El Capitan,...

Yuji's Athlete Page 14 posts 3 videos

James has gone from climbing near his family home in the Peak District of England to exploring walls and mountains in exotic locations around the globe everywhere from Tazmania to Thailand. His first venture into rock...

James's Athlete Page 14 posts 1 video

Caroline's early climbing exploits were in the competition world where she had several years of excellents results. She later moved into sport climbing and eventually hard trad. She has made numerous difficult ascents...

Caroline's Athlete Page 11 posts 1 video

One of the strongest, most gifted climbers in the world. Toru can do it all; from hard grit ascents in the middle of summer, repeats of some of the world's hardest boulder problems, hard sport climbing and even...

Toru's Athlete Page 10 posts 2 videos

While he has some impressive competition results under his belt, outdoor rock is where his heart lies, and Matty has ticked some of the toughest routes around. His resume lists some impressive sends, including Papichulo...

Matty's Athlete Page 4 posts 1 video



6 Apr

I am totally lost for words. Stunned. Sea-level traversing turned 90 degrees, with a bit of Scottish winter on a hot day.

And remember, in addition to all those little biting things, Japan has those giant hornets...