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Trekking Kokoda – The Japanese Way


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#1 aussie

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Posted 19 March 2004 - 07:45 PM

The greeting pierced through the quiet Friday night and brought villagers out of their houses. 'Konichiwa' came the soft and tired reply somewhere in the depths of the dark and rainy night.

The Japanese greeting is probably spoken widely but one rarely heard of along the renowned WWII Kokoda Trail or at least at Bisilogo, a village 2 kilometres away from Owers' Corner where the famous trail either starts or ends.

We could only work out the movement of flashlights as they came closer and closer and of course into full view.

Keisuke Shimizu, Hiroya Imanaka & Sayaka Ikeya seen here at the end of their 6 day trek in the wet on the Kokoda Trail.  Well done, congratulations from all of us here at Kokoda Trekking!

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#2 aussie

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Posted 19 March 2004 - 07:48 PM

The rain that started a few minutes earlier has since ceased or may be we were too excited to notice it was still raining.

Shouts of joy filled the air as we waited to greet and congratulate the three Japanese who had just completed the Kokoda Trail.

Hiroya Imanaka looked absolutely exhausted as he came up to the pickup vehicle.  In order to end the journey in time, they were up trekking since 4am that morning and arrived at the vehicle around 9:30pm that night.

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#3 aussie

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Posted 19 March 2004 - 07:50 PM

Hiroya Imanaka, Sayaka Ikeya and Keisuke Shimizu arrived on March 7th to walk the trail and went ahead of other trekkers from Australia and USA to complete the trail in a matter of six days.

The three Japanese are the first group of trekkers for Kokoda Trekking Adventure (KTA) for this year to have completed the trail. They were also the first from Japan to take up trekking with KTA.

This was especially a moment to savor since we rarely heard of anyone from Japan going on the track.

Hiroya Imanaka (Japan), Adam Brent (Chicago, USA)  & Sayaka Ikeya (Japan) seen here at Kokoda Station before they commenced their trek:

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#4 aussie

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Posted 19 March 2004 - 07:53 PM

Keisuke, the eldest of the group said they wanted to find out for themselves what the trail was like after a friend told them about it.

'We had to save up for this one particular trip. If we had known what the conditions were out there we would have extended out trekking days to nine instead of six,' Keisuke said.

But the trio had to catch their flight back home the next day (Saturday) so time was important for this matter.

'One thing that really amazed me is that there are a lot of trees here than anywhere I have been to. The scenery is also very beautiful,' said Keisuke.

Keisuke Shimizu, Technical Engineer from Japan.  On the way back into Port Moresby Keisuke spoke non stop about his incredible journey along the Kokoda Trail.  According to Russell our guide, villagers told him they were the first Japanese they could recall that walked the whole trek from one end to the other.  If anyone knows of someone else, please let us know:

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#5 aussie

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Posted 19 March 2004 - 07:55 PM

Keisuke is a Technical Engineer has done some mountain climbing around the world. He said he is planning to come back and climb Mt Wilhem the highest mountain in the Highlands of Papua New Guinea but of course 'got to save up for that.'

The hardest probably for the Japanese trekkers was when trying to cross Goldie River before reaching Owers' Corner. Keisuke says the river was high and rough.

'Keisuke Shimizu with his porter John at Owers' Corner at the completion of their kokoda trek.  Initially, Keisuke wanted to carry his own pack however at Hoi Village he realised he was struggling.  Russell Eroro then walked back to Kokoda to find a porter to accompany him:

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#6 aussie

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Posted 19 March 2004 - 07:57 PM

They say, when walking Kokoda Trail, there is an Australian way of walking compared to USA or any other for that matter. And there is probably a Japanese way of walking the trail.

They didn't know what they were in for, they did it the hard way and endured till the end.  

Ends//

Well earned 'V' for 'Victory' Sign - Hiroya Imanaka & Sayaka Ikeya.  The Papua New Guinean in this photograph is Russell's brother Davidson:

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#7 aussie

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Posted 23 March 2004 - 07:56 AM

Footnote:  Just received this morning a wonderful email from our young Japanese couple which I thought I would share with you as I have tears of joy in my eyes knowing they were thinking of our guys out on the trail even now they are back in Japan.  Yes, guys like Russell and his many porters and guides are truly the fuzzy wuzzy angels of today.  

Quote:

Dear Gail

It's been a while since I came back here and resumed working. It feels like a long-time-ago trekking we had only a few weeks ago. Sayaka and I have looked at your web page with almost a daily basis and we really felt strong anxiety for Russel and his co-trekkers. The winds really have brown off houses and trees? Messages you updated today have brown off our anxiety !

It was great to see Russel again sitting on a pick-up truck and we said "oh TAICHO is ok came back with a good shape." We've called him "TAICHO" and it means "captain" in Japanese. Taicho is a good word and has a kind of lovely passion towards a person called. We loved him and also had respect on him.

We hardly imagine he's finished trekking again by now. From the best bottom's of our heart, we can say it was one of the greatest and unforgettable adventures we've ever had in our 26 and 23 years.

Gail, we've got a question. Is it ok and not bothering you if we have some we'd like to give Russel or other porters, we can send it to you first and then you give it to a person we ask ?

In a few years time, we'd like to come back to PNG and meet you, Russel, Sony, Tony, and John. They were perfect and had and have beautiful mind inside and we really missing you all not being with us now.

Ok then, I'm gonna have sleep and work tomorrow again for future trekking !
Hope you a good night

Hiroya Imanaka

Russell Eroro in Yellow Shirt seen here with Al Briggs from England with other porters and workers from the transport pickup service at Sogeri end of March, 2004:

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