Safety trekking : Opinion

2012-04-05

Safety trekking

Licenced guide


Yumiko Arai 
Tour Guide-Interpreter

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Born in Yokohama, brought up in London. 
Graduated from 
Meiji University, Commercial Science Department.
Worked for Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation as a foreign exchange dealer.
Traveled to more than 80 countries.
Participated in All-Japan Dinghy Yacht Championship final for 7 years.
Conquered Mt.Kilimanjaro (5895m, 19340ft), Mt.Kinabaru, and many of highest peaks.





Contact details
E-mail  blenheim_road@yahoo.co.jp
Mobile +81-(0)90-3596-2866
Private tours are available.


Q) Could you tell us the kinds of work you are doing right now?

British, American, and Australian travel agencies are running trekking tours in various countries. I'm assigned to tours in Japan through land operators. I believe these kinds of small group hiking tours are the best way to attract foreigners who are seeking authentic hospitality and seasonal nature. Additionally, a terrific sense of achievement can be shared after conquering the summit. 

Major destinations are the combinations of Ancient trails of Nara and Kyoto, Sacred Mt.Koya, the Kumano-kodo pilgrimage routes, Nakasendo trails, Mt. Yarigatake and Northern Alps, and conquering Holy Mt. Fuji. Each tours lasts for about 2 weeks, relatively longer than the Golden routes, so the major of guests are retirees who are typically health-conscious and vegetarian.

Each guest has their own pace, so I need to ensure leadership of the group and act as rear guard. That means I need to hike 3 times more than they do.

Also I'm working for Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Finance as an interpreter and an attendant. The North Korean abduction issue, Middle East Peace Efforts, Customs training program for developing countries (5-23 countries at once), and processing the conclusion of a tax treaty with Cambodian Government are my major programs.

As a tour guide, I can choose my topics and entertain tourists depending on the situation. However, under these governmental programs, I have to translate accurately choosing sensitive words between parliamentary secretaries or ministers within a limited timeframe. It is stressful, but can be very proud to be involved in international agendas.

Q) What are required for safety trekking?

Currently, there are no nationwide safety standards but only each agent's own policy. In 2009, before I start running Mt.Yarigatake and Mt.Fuji tour, I asked for a letter of awareness from the company as follows. It was just after 2 remarkable fatal accident, such as Daisetsuzan accident (10 were dead including guide) and slip drop from Mt.Yarigatake (2 were dead), so immediately it was accepted.

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1. The guide shall have authority to dissuade guests in conscience from climbing according to guide's judgment.

2. The guide shall have authority to refuse guest who has less equipment and lack of ability. And in case guide made this judgment, company should take care for all non-performance (default) issue.

3. In case of emergency, companies always have to get ready for alternative route.

Required improvements are : 

1. Spare at least one day for mountain climbing in case of inclement weather or bad health.

2. Let each couple carry an AU, Docomo, or a Softbank mobile phone so that the whole group owns all channels.

3. Oblige agents to buy insurance.

4. Sub-guide has to be always available in case of emergency.


Q) How do you manage your health?

1. My blood type is what is called "rare blood type", only 0.02% in my type. I'm always hanging by blood type tag and taking care not to be seriously injured as it is not easy for me to transfusion.

2. Jogging constantly for physical strength. I reciprocate 10 times using stairs as I live in 11th floor especially before highland climbing. Making sure to include a stretching-out exercise.

3. It is necessary to stay in a small mountain hut for 2-3 days with my guests. This creates tight trusting relationship, but on the other hand, it is very stressful. I have a tendency to devote myself to entertain my guests too much. So it is my challenge to secure private time.

4. Regarding guests' health control, I'm always checking their chronic disease and their diet. I'm trying to keep my eyes on if they are accepting Japanese food or not, because it is difficult to require western or alternative food in the mountain huts. 

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Sharing terrific sense of achievement after conquering the summit in extreme situation deepens the irreplaceable bond with my guests! 



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