Beginning in October of 2111, Payson High School's Hike and Ski Club started planning their second trip to Japan. Over the course of many months and several fund raisers planned by the parents, seven students self-funded the cost of the $2500.00 trip. In preparation, the students read and discussed American and Japanese literature including Hiroshima by John Hersey, learned about Japanese history and hiked Humphrey's Peak as practice for the rigors of Mt Fuji.
The group's travels, chaperoned by Julie Eckhardt and Anna Van Zile, began on Thursday, June 28th. By 4:55 a.m. On Saturday, July 1, they had landed in Tokyo and managed to visit Tsukigi Fish Market in Tokyo, the Toto Toilet Showroom in Shinjuku, Pokemon Center in Hamamatsucho, and enjoyed a traditional Japanese dinner of shabu shabu in Shibuya, where they met with PHS Japanese foreign exchange student Urara Misaki and her father. The day involved no less than twelve different transfers or trips on various Japanese subway lines.
Day two started with a trip to Tokyo Station where the group met up with Urara again, this time to climb Mt. Fuji. Whereas the day before was sunny and perfect, Sunday was overcast, and it started to rain as they were on the bus headed to Kawaguchiko, where they would take another bus to the fifth station of Mt. Fuji, requiring a gain of approximately 5,000 feet in order to reach the summit at 12,388 feet. This group accomplished the feat in five hours, which is amazing, considering that most of it was done in a pelting rain. They arrived at their hut soaked through and cold, only to wake up at 2:00 to begin the hour and a half ascent to the summit in darkness, not knowing what the conditions at the top would be. Fortunately, the skies were clear for sunrise--a sight none of the students will ever forget.
Kara Van Zile
Anna Van Zile
The Payson travelers will return to the United States on July 10.