For my Community Involvement Project (CIP) this semester, I participated in Doshisha’s Hiking Club. Our weekly Saturday meetings would usually consist of either traversing the trails that the mountains surrounding Kyoto have to offer or going on training runs in Gosho, the imperial palace that sits right by Doshisha’s campus. I really enjoyed these Saturday meetings, because they allowed me to stay active while also allowing me to see a bit more of Kyoto.
The most surprising aspect of this hiking club, to me, was that the members were overwhelmingly male. Including myself, there were only two or three women at most at each meeting. From my experience with hiking clubs back in the States, I am used to more female participants. This made me wonder whether or not hiking in Japan was a slightly gendered activity. Nevertheless, this did not inhibit me from feeling comfortable in the club – everyone was friendly and willing to talk!
I really loved being a part of this club. I liked challenging myself to get to know the Japanese members better, even if sometimes my words came out a bit jumbled. And so, if you’re looking to get active and to see what Kyoto has to offer, I recommend checking out this club!
The hiking circle experience sounds very interesting. Besides gender, what other differences did you notice regarding hiking/exercise groups in the U.S.?
Hi Andrew! When we didn’t go on hikes, we went on training runs. To me, this was very different compared to hiking clubs in the U.S.
Ahhh Hiking Club seems like it was so much fun!! It seems like a great way to see areas of Kyoto that are not so crowded with tourists, but rather, home to more adventurously-minded travelers. Furthermore, it seems the masses of shrines within Kyoto provide us with an understanding that there is exoteric meaning to be gained from the very land on which the city is built. Do you feel like your hiking experiences have brought you in closer communion with the natural world here?
It is fantastic that you found the hiking club members to be so open and reciprocative. Which hike ended up being your favorite?
I definitely did get a sense of belonging more closely to the non-touristy world of Kyoto with this club. As for connecting with the more “Ancient Kyoto,” because we moved in a big pack and we talked about modern things, I didn’t get as much of a sense of moving closer to the natural world. I really liked hiking Daimonji!
What was your favorite mountain? Was the hiking experience any different in Japan compared to in America?
Hi, Julia. I gotta ask you: what was your favorite mountain? Was the hiking experience any different in Japan compared to in America? I look forward to your reply.