Mountaineer Ken Noguchi recently departed on his fourth trip to clean up Mt. Everest, but after returning to Japan he plans to devote his energies to preserving the beauty of a mountain much closer to home--Mt. Fuji.
Noguchi, 29, set off for Mt. Everest on April 8. This time he will lead a multinational party comprising about 30 members from Japan, South Korea, Nepal and Georgia, on a one-month cleanup mission which was to begin Sunday. The group expects to collect about 2 tons of rubbish, such as oxygen cylinders discarded by past expeditions.
But while he conducted these activities, new questions occurred to Noguchi: What do people do with rubbish in their own countries? Why do some climbers discard their rubbish and others do not? In the end, these questions always came back to what was happening in Noguchi's home country.
Noguchi was shocked when he found rubbish on Mt. Everest that had been left behind by Japanese climbers. "I wondered if this littering was not so different to what we see in Japanese cities. The piles of rubbish on the mountain mirrored that in Japanese cities," lamented Noguchi. "I realized that the rubbish is not just a problem involving the climbers--it also symbolizes the conditions of the climber's home nation," he said.