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Written by: William Habington
Date: 2012/06/05

Crowds gathered at Kamikochi's Weston Relief  on Sunday to celebrate the 66th Annual Weston Festival.  For those who don't know of him, Walter Weston was a key figure in the development of Alpine culture in Japan.  As a missionary for the Church of England, he travelled around Japan, eventually developing a special attachment to Kamikochi.  Weston was also an avid climber and appreciator of Japanese culture and landscapes.  He popularised the term "Japanese Alps" in a now classic account of his hiking experiences, published back in 1896.

 

ウエストン祭 子供による献花

 

 

Today, Weston is fondly remembered as one of the early promoters of hiking in the Alps.  For the Japanese Alpine Society, who regard him as their honourary first member, Weston is both a hero and a sort of founder.  So he is honoured every year in the event that bears his name.

 

This year's Weston Festival kicked off at 10 on Sunday, with an opening greeting followed by a cermony in which two children placed flowers on the relief. 

 

This was followed by a brief address from members of the Japanese Alpine Society and performances by students from Azumi Elementray School.  Their singing and recorder playing really helped set the mood for the rest of the event.  Can you think of a better tune for the occasion than the Alpine anthem Edelweisse?

 

安曇野小学校生徒 合唱安曇野小学校生徒 演奏

 

The festival concluded with the head of the Japanese Alpine Society's Shinano Chapter giving a speech about Weston's significance.

 

 集合写真

 

A big thanks to everyone whose efforts made this year's Weston Festival a success!   It's a great way to honour the achievments of a true legend in Japanese Alpine history and  we hope to continue this tradition for years to come.

 

We'd like to remind our readers that, even if you missed the event, you can always visit the Weston Relief in Kamikochi.  And as you walk along the park's scenic paths, take a moment to remember the trailblazers who opened them for us.

 

Source of Information:

- Kamikōchi National Park Guide Website (http://npg-alps.net/)