This episode is about Suzu, a Tokyoite who enjoys mountaineering and climbing with her wonderful friends regardless of the season. She tells us what appeals to her about seasonal mountaineering and about her photos taken with THETA 360-degree camera!

Falling in love with the mountains

It seems like you frequently go mountaineering and climbing. When did you start serious mountaineering?

It’s been just about two years since I took up mountaineering as a more serious hobby.

【Nishi-Hotakadake captured with THETA】

That’s surprisingly recent! Have you always been an active person?

I spent a few years traveling all over the world in my 20s. After graduating from college, with my Indonesian friend, I founded and was active in a local education-related NGO. Carrying out these NGO activities made me want to see the state of education in other developing countries with my own eyes. That’s why I started traveling.

I like nature so I always had some contact with mountains on my trips. For example, I went trekking near the Himalayas with my local friend in Nepal, I climbed Kilimanjaro in Africa, and I climbed my first snow-capped mountain in Bolivia.

【Nishi-Hotakadake captured with THETA】

Climbing Tanigawadake two years ago really sparked my fascination with mountains. Around that time, typhoons had been hitting the Kanto area one after another and the bad weather wouldn’t let up.

When the blue skies finally returned, I suddenly had the urge to go see the beautiful autumn leaves. So, on the spur of the moment, I decided to go out to Tanigawadake, which is just a day trip away from the city. It was the end of October and not knowing anything about mountaineering then, I thought I’d be able to see the autumn foliage,but around that time of year, Tanigawadake was already a snowy landscape.

【Rime on Mt. Kiso-Komagatake captured with THETA】

I was completely mesmerized by the rime and the amazing snowy scene I saw there. This inspired me to pursue mountain climbing more seriously.

What exactly is rime?

It is a phenomenon where water vapor and fog in the air freeze onto trees, etc. in a below-zero environment. It looks like white flowers are blooming on the branches. It’s very beautiful.

On that occasion, I climbed Tanigawadake alone, but I got to know various people there. When you meet someone on a mountain, since you talk while you climb, you get to know one another quite quickly. That feeling is close to how I feel when I’m traveling.

【Nishi-Hotakadake captured with THETA】

The sense of adventure and excitement, and the out-of-the-ordinary feeling that I felt on the mountain were similar to what I felt on my trips. That’s one of the reasons why I fell in love with the mountains even more.

Mountain lovers often say that about meeting people. I feel like there are more young people who climb mountains on Instagram these days.

I think the number of mountain climbers has increased a lot recently. When I just started mountaineering, I didn’t have very many friends around me who liked mountains. But thanks to Instagram, I’ve met fellow mountain lovers and now have lots of friends I can climb mountains with. Now, I spend two or three days out of the week in the mountains, either mountaineering or climbing.

The appeal of snowy mountains in winter

What’s your favorite season for mountaineering?

Hands down, winter is No. 1! I think that the snowy mountain landscape is a breathtaking view that’s in a league of its own.

【Nishi-Hotakadake captured with THETA】

So, it’s hands down winter! The cold doesn’t bother you?

Of course, the cold is harsh. If you don’t keep walking and moving, it gets very cold. Even if you come across an amazing landscape and want to stop to take a photo, it’s so cold you think twice about taking the time to pull out your tripod and camera.

【Sunset and a sea of clouds at Nishi-Hotakadake captured with THETA】

When I went to Nishi-Hotakadake at the end of last year, the view of the sunset and the sea of clouds was incredible!

I really wanted to capture it well, so when I took the photo above with THETA, I tried shooting it with the self-timer (simultaneously pressing and holding the camera power button and the Wi-Fi button) and monopod, but it didn’t work that time so I just pressed the shutter button with my finger. It was unbelievably cold that time.

Do you ever spend the night when you go mountaineering in the winter?

I go to the mountains on day trips a lot, but I do stay overnight in a tent or at a mountain lodge sometimes. When the members I’m with can handle spending the night in a tent in the winter, we do it!

【Nishi-Hotakadake captured with THETA】

At Nishi-Hotakadake, when we went at the end of last year, we all spent the night in tents. The sunrise we saw from the snowy mountains was an exceptionally beautiful view.


【Mt. Houou shooting with THETA and monopod】

What kind of camera do you normally take photos with?

I usually use a DSLR camera. In addition to freelance translation and interpreting work, I also do some camera-related work. When I’m up in the mountains, I sometimes also take photos with my smartphone.

Tell us about THETA camera.

I had known about THETA from before and was curious about it. At first, since the camera captures a 360° view, I didn’t think it would make much of a difference how a photo was taken. But I realized that the mood of the photo would be completely different depending on the angle that I held THETA.

【Mt. Houou 360-degree image taken with THETA from the spot shown in previous photo】

Since you can’t post a 360-degree image as is on Instagram, you need to edit it into a two-dimensional image using an app. This editing into a two-dimensional image was harder than I expected. You need to think ahead and use your imagination when taking the photo.

I gradually got the hang of it after taking numerous photos at slightly different angles.

This edited image is amazing! How did you take it?

【Mt. Akagi captured with THETA】

This image was taken at Mt. Akagi which is a mountain famous for rime. It was really cold that day and they said it might even snow in Tokyo. So, we spontaneously decided to climb Mt. Akagi, expecting to see lots of rime, but we only saw some in the vicinity of this summit.

I wanted to take a photo of the rime with THETA, so my two friends and I placed the camera up close to the rime, like in the image below. The image above is the shot we took trying out various angles.

THETA left in the rime…! That’s a very rare and unique shot!

I post the THETA images on Instagram after editing them, but I get a much more surprised reaction from everyone when I show them the 360° images, as is, directly using THETA app for viewing.

Why continue mountain climbing?

Why do you continue to climb mountains?

Meeting people, amazing mountain views, and the sense of excitement and adventure that I feel there. Those are the reasons why I continue mountain climbing. Each time I go, the scenery changes. That’s another appealing thing about mountains.

Also, the friends that I’ve met on mountains have similar values and I feel like we have very deep connections with each other.

【Mt. Kentoku captured with THETA】

You learn a lot about a person in the conversations you have with them while you climb up a mountain together. I feel that just climbing up one mountain together really deepens your relationship with that person.

【Yatsugatake Mountain Meeting in Chino captured with THETA】

What challenge do you want to take up next?

I’d like to try alpine climbing in the future. There are lots of different routes that can be taken on one mountain. There are also routes for climbing. I’m currently working on my climbing skills! This winter, I was able to try ice climbing which was a challenge I’d been wanting to take up.

Suzu’s charming photo full of smiles with her mountain climbing friends.

Next time we will post Suzu’s THETA x climbing interview! Keep an eye out for it!

Instagram: @Suzuwander

Model used: THETA SC

This article is an interview of Suzu, who was asked to try out THETA SC and share episodes from when she used it.