#LearnFromTheWorld: The 80-year-old Volunteer Guardian of Mt. Nokoyama in Japan

Us, humans, have abused nature in our way to creating a modern civilization. The number of forests we cleared, mountains we flattened, and animals we slaughtered can no longer be fathomed. That is why, it is truly inspiring to find people who devote their selves in protecting nature. I have been given the privilege of meeting one of those kind hearts. This inspiring soul is an 80-year-old volunteer Environmentalist. We all call him Ichida-san; Mt. Nokoyama’s Guardian.

Kaoru Ichida is a resident of Gifu Prefecture, Japan. He is a Mountaineering enthusiast and still climbs mountains regularly despite his age. His favorite mountain to climb is obviously Gifu’s Mt. Nokoyama, and guess what? He has climbed it for 3131 times already! He has been taking care of Mt. Nokoyama for 18 years now, and vows to continue doing so until his body permits him.

His story has inspired many, including me. With that, allow me to share his inspiring life with you. Hopefully, it can become another way for us to #LearnFromTheWorld.

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It All started with this Wife’s Fight against Cancer

Twenty years ago, when his wife was diagnosed with Cancer, Ichida-san was anxious to find healthier ways to combat the Chronic disease. Both he and his wife found that comfort in climbing mountains. Since it is close to home, the first ever mountain they climbed together was Mt. Nokoyama. Since then, the mountain has become their happy place. They regularly climbed it together since then.

Two years after that, there was nothing but gratitude in Ichida-san’s heart. Mt. Nokoyama has helped them survive the biggest trial in their family. He then decided to devote his life into taking care of the mountain that he calls his second home.

“Mountains might be just mountains, but sometimes they save us. We should help save them in return.” His words translated from Japanese.

This 80-year-old Volunteer is Superman!

What does he do for Mt. Nokoyama? Everything!

In normal days, you will find him carrying spare woods up the mountain’s summit. He builds tables and benches from scratch up there so that people will have places to rest and chill upon reaching the top. Everytime he is in the mountain, he always brings a photobook of flowers that will bloom all year round, to show them to mountaineers. He creates mountain signs including the mascot called Nokorin. (See that cute thing in the center of the picture.)

His initiatives include building small bridges along the mountain tracks. He also cleans the surroundings of trashes and fallen branches, and guides mountaineers that he meets along the way.

“Go back to Nature. Save Nature.”

He has 2 messages to the world.

First would be to go back to Nature. He said that our society has become trapped in our concrete jungles. That for our minds and bodies to feel at eased, going back to nature once in a while is the key. That going back to nature will help heal the body, the mind, and the soul.

Second would be to take care of Nature. He said that our real home is nature. He said that if we do not take care of our real home, which is the Mother Earth, our concrete homes will also not stay standing.

“If you destroy nature, where else will we look for peace of mind?” He added.

For me, there is one thing that Ichida-san’s story teaches us. It is the role of nature in our lives. Nature is our natural home. A place that will heal us and house us. Our society today spends billions flattening mountains for urbanization. Don’t you think we are spending all those money to create artificial homes by destroying our real home in the process?

“Go back to save Nature. Save it.”

With Ichida-san’s words ringing in my head, I am putting this article to the world, as a reminder of Nature’s role in our lives. I hope we see his story as a proof that nothing else really heals and houses us better than this thing that we are always taking for granted; Nature.

Thank you for reading,

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