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Ryozo Azuma

1879 - 1980

Ryozo Azuma - photo by Gene Rose
  • Conservationist and mountaineer, known as "The John Muir of Japan" (pronounced Ah za ma)
  • Born in Japan, at age 20, attended College of the Pacific in Tacoma, Washington, USA. He and his classmates took an ambitious outing. They would first circumnavigate Mount Rainier, a distance of 100 miles and then they would climb the mountain as a finale. After a successful summiting, they stopped at Camp Muir on the descent.

    Young Azuma asked their guide who was this Muir person. The guide responded that Muir was America's greatest naturalist and mountaineer and described climbing Rainier with him.

    Totally impressed, he asked the location of Muir's grave, so he might visit it.

    "Impossible!" laughed the guide "He's not dead yet!"

    Azuma lost no time writing John Muir and asking if he could meet him.

    Muir wrote an enthusiastic invitation.

    So in May, 1914, Ryozo took the train down to San Francisco, where to his surprise, he was met by a member of the Sierra Club who escorted Azuma to Muir's home in Martinez.

    Azuma spent 3 days with Muir; "Three of the most important days of his life" talking mountains, conservation, and Alaska. Muir arranged for a Captain Hooper to take Ryozo on as crewman on his revenue cutter bound for Alaska and adventure. Over the years, Azuma would climb over 140 mountains, become Japan's leading expert on the Arctic, save the life of the Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen, become known as the "John Muir of Japan," and write a biography of Muir in the Japanese language.

  • Translated Muir's book Stickeen and was responsible for having Travels in Alaska translated into Japanese by Tahei Tobuse in 1942.
  • In 1973, Azuma published his book Shizen hogo no chichi Jon Myua. (Life of John Muir, Father of Nature Conservation).
  • The Sierra Club made Azuma an Honorary Life Member in 1977.

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