Middle Wild Swimming Brother Calum took our field jacket to Japan!
19th December 2018
Packing for a trip to Japan was proving to be rather tricky, along with all the usual outdoor and swimming gear I needed a jacket that would serve me well in a multitude of areas, high altitude peaks and mountains in Fuji Lakes, strolling around bustling metropolises in Tokyo and Kyoto and deeper south in the regions of Onimichi and Hiroshima. I was delighted when Selkie offered a helping hand (or flipper) and offered to let me test out their brand new “Field Jacket”, this sounded like a brilliant idea and I packed my bags and set off for majestic Japan…
“As the train left Tokyo, I settled myself into a window seat and watched the world outside flyby, the metropolis quickly gave way to rugged impenetrable forests and jagged peaks, myself and my childhood friend Luke were on our way to try and catch a glimpse of arguably one of the worlds most famous mountains, the enigmatic Mt Fuji.
As the train rolled into the lakeside town of Kawaguchiko on the shores of Lake Kawaguchi, all around us was shrouded in darkness, lanterns leading our way to the shores of the lake. After some world-class Tempura, we settled down for the night eager to catch an early start to witness the majesty of the fabled mountain. We’d planned a 50km mountain bike ride around 3 of the 5 sacred lakes of Fuji, hoping to give ourselves ample opportunity to see the peak from all angles. As we left the Hostel the whole valley was shrouded in mist, fog lapped at the shores of the lake and clouds covered the whole valley. No chance of seeing Fuji. Nonetheless, we set off, following the shores of Kawaguchi, Saiko and Lake Shoji, the autumnal colours and deep reds of the cedars created a breathtaking patchwork, a natural quilt of cascading colours, nature at its finest.
The reason we were heading out to Lake Shoji is that it is rumoured to have the best view of Fuji, it’s horseshoe shape also offered a brilliant place for a swim, in a more sheltered spot and hopefully with Fuji in the background. Upon arrival it was clear that we had no chance of seeing the snow-topped cap of Fuji, the wind was blowing hard and the surface of the lake looked icy cold, ideal conditions for a dip I thought. After a quick change behind a boat I dived into the waters and headed out into the middle of the lake, it was icy cold and birds scattered, the water was crystal clear and I stopped to turn onto my back, pause and gaze at the mist covered Fuji, wishing it would reveal it’s beauty! Nonetheless, it was a brilliant place for a dip. But still no glimpse of the dome of Mt Fuji. We met a middle-aged man from Kobe who’d been sleeping in his car for the last 4 days hoping to catch a glimpse of the dome, with no luck he was heading home empty-handed. With that, we too set off back to Kawaguchiko to try our luck the next day.
After a well deserved Onsen (Japanese hot spring) and solid nights sleep we awoke on our final day at Fuji Lakes, we eagerly pulled back the curtains to azure blue sky, not a cloud in sight, after a hurried breakfast we packed our swimming gear and set off on a hike. As we approached the lakeside we turned a corner and gazed upon Mt Fuji in all its glory, it’s colossal form rising from the land all around as if pulled up by the fingers of some ancient being. It stands alone, sublime in its loneliness, almost ruling over the landscape.
We wandered an ancient trail path across a number of ridges rising up from Kawaguchiko, we passed many trail runners and walkers who all assured us that we were incredibly lucky to be seeing Fuji as it was today and that they hadn’t had weather like it for a long time. As we left the forest we arrived on the shores of Lake Kawaguchi opposite the town. Looking out across the waters with Fuji in the background, it’s snow-capped dome dominating the skyline, was an unforgettable experience. I took off my jacket, pulled on my jammers, hat and goggles and waded out into the ice cold water, I dived in and powered into my stroke, each breath to my left bringing Fuji into view, as I approached the halfway point of the lake I stopped, turned onto my back and gazed at Fuji, stopping for a moment to pause and reflect on the absolute perfection of the scene, as I turned back to shore, the image of the snow-capped dome of Fuji was one I will never forget”.
Alongside this lucky sight of Fuji’s snow-capped dome, we were lucky enough to experience many of Japan’s delights, an old friend of mine had moved to Tokyo 2 years ago and was fluent in Japanese, this allowed us, if but for a moment, a closer glimpse of life inside of this enigmatic country. From the dotted southern islands of Miyajima to the bamboo groves of Kyoto, from the bustling metropolis of Tokyo to the Samarui castles of Himeji-Jo my Selkie Field Jacket was the perfect companion, warm and windproof whilst also being extremely wearable in the inner cities. My favourite feature has to be the hidden and padded inner pockets, these were perfect for warming my hands and let me keep my goggles and swim cap packed away in the front pockets. I couldn’t recommend the jacket more and look forward to taking it out for its next adventure!