Japan is a very mountainous country. The larger parts of the nation are mountainous, making people inhabit the limited space of the plains. Thus, the congestion of the cities and jammed trains. The other side of the coin is that once you head mountain-wards, you find less people and more trees, alluring you into tranquility.
As a kid I really loved wandering in the mountains. Often I had a butterfly net in my hand, and was looking in every direction with an eager look. Other times I was just taking it easy, enjoying the scenery, thinking about my future still in the mist.
The "catch" in mountain climbing was that you don't have a clear idea where you are, or how close the peak was. Many times, you saw what appeared to be the top. Once you reached there, you discovered that it was just another hill on the way to the main peak. The path started to descend even. Although the descent was gentle and welcome for your tired legs, it also meant that once you went down, you had to go up eventually. You thought to yourself this was not very economical.
The ups and downs. The invisibles and visibles. Narrow sights and magnificent vistas. As I look back on my many childish ascents, I realize how well they could serve as metaphors for life.
The mountain metaphor colored my youth. I used to draw a mountain on the back of a calendar sheet, with dotted lines leading to the top. I would make progress marks as I finished reading a book, and approach the peak gradually. As I went upwards, I had the satisfaction of thing accomplished, and an imaginary feeling of dizziness.
Nowadays I stress the importance of spontaneity and playfulness, but I started my life as quite a serious climber.