fbpx
    • Spring
      • Eating Wild in Japan

        Eating Wild in Japan

        Winifred Bird's latest book is an introduction to the world of sansai (mountain vegetables) and foraging in Japan.
        Niseko flying Hokkaido

        Bird’s Eye View of Hokkaido

        Get a bird's eye view of Hokkaido with Ben Kerr, a Niseko-based pilot.

        Northern Tohoku’s Top 5 Spring Hikes

        Chase the cherry blossoms north and enjoy five of Tohoku’s best hikes this spring.

        Spring Escapes: Outdoor Activities in Japan

        Check out these spring escapes this season and enjoy outdoor activities throughout Japan.

        Haga Farm Spring Glamping in Tochigi

        Haga Farm and Glamping in Tochigi opened in August 2020, and it has quickly become a popular escape for Tokyoites.
    • Summer
      • Washi Papermaking Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Following the Paper Trail in Kochi

        Discover the traditional art of washi papermaking in Kochi with artist Rogier Uitenboogaart.
        Climbing Mt. Fuji Outdoor Japan

        Peaking in 2021: Climbing Mt. Fuji

        Thinking of climbing Mt. Fuji this summer? We talk to Mt. Fuji guides on best practices for scaling Japan's highest mountain.

        Japan Camping Guide

        Check out our picks all the way from Hokkaido to the Okinawa Islands and then plot your perfect Japan camping adventure.
        Japan's Digital Nomads Van Life in Japan

        Japan’s Digital Nomads

        Adventure couple Ruth Aisling and Bappa Shota explores Japan by van.
        Iriomote Yamaneko Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote’s Endangered Wildcats

        Iriomote Island, one of Japan's last untouched wild places, is home to the endangered yamaneko wildcat.
    • Autumn
      • Pow Bar Founder Megumi Scott

        Beyond the Brand: Pow Bar

        An interview with Megumi Scott, the founder of Niseko brand Pow Bar.
        Churamura Okinawa Sea Turtle Marine Conservation

        Churamura: Footprints in the Sand

        Churamura, an NPO in Okinawa, work to conserve marine life and protect endangered sea turtles in Japan's southernmost prefecture.
        Kawazu

        Fall in Love with Kawazu

        Enjoy waterfall hikes and hot springs, beautiful beaches and delicious seafood in Kawazu on the western coast of Izu Peninsula.
        Mountain Biking in Japan

        Guide Lines: Autumn Mountain Biking in Japan

        Check out these mountain biking parks throughout Japan.
    • Winter
      • Early Bird 2021-22 Japan Ski

        Early Bird Ski Deals for 2021-2022

        Don't miss out on these early bird season pass and lift package deals for Japan's ski resorts.

        Pacific Solo

        Preacher-tu...
    • Near Tokyo
    • Near Kyoto
    • All Regions
    • Article Map
    • Ocean and Beach
      • Churamura Okinawa Sea Turtle Marine Conservation

        Churamura: Footprints in the Sand

        Churamura, an NPO in Okinawa, work to conserve marine life and protect endangered sea turtles in Japan's southernmost prefecture.
        Kawazu

        Fall in Love with Kawazu

        Enjoy waterfall hikes and hot springs, beautiful beaches and delicious seafood in Kawazu on the western coast of Izu Peninsula.
        Kaiyu Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Snorkeling, Surfing and Sustainability in Koch...

        Enjoy the clear waters of Kochi by snorkeling and surfing while staying at a refurbished hotel committed to sustainability.
        Outdoor Japan Shimoda

        Blue Waves and Black Ships in Shimoda

        Shimoda may be famous for its white sandy beaches and surfing, but it also played a major role in shaping the Japan we know today.
    • River and Lake
      • Iriomote Yamaneko Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote’s Endanger...

        Iriomote Island, one of Japan's last untouched wild places, is home to the endangered yamaneko wildcat.
        Iriomote Outdoor Japan

        Iriomote Activity Guide

        A guide to Iriomote's outdoors, hiking, diving, cultural experiences and accommodation.
        Niseko flying Hokkaido

        Bird’s Eye View of Hokkai...

        Get a bird's eye view of Hokkaido with Ben Kerr, a Niseko-based pilot.

        Spring Escapes: Outdoor A...

        Check out these spring escapes this season and enjoy outdoor activities throughout Japan.
        video

        Shikoku Road Trip: Kochi ...

        Mountainous forests and coastal towns dominate most of the prefecture, where visitors will find enterprising locals and nature guides working to revitalize their communities. Shikoku’s winding roads are best explored by car.
    • Mountain and Land
    • Sky
    • Snow and Ice
      • Matagi Akita Tohoku Sustainable Living

        Tracking Akita’s Matagi Hunters

        Akita in the northern Tohoku region is home to the Matagi, hunters who follow an ancient and sustainable way of hunting, foraging and life.
        Early Bird 2021-22 Japan Ski

        Early Bird Ski Deals for 2021-2022

        Don't miss out on these early bird season pass and lift package deals for Japan's ski resorts.
    • Travel
      • Churamura Okinawa Sea Turtle Marine Conservation

        Churamura: Footprints in the Sand

        Churamura, an NPO in Okinawa, work to conserve marine life and protect endangered sea turtles in Japan's southernmost prefecture.
        Kawazu

        Fall in Love with Kawazu

        Enjoy waterfall hikes and hot springs, beautiful beaches and delicious seafood in Kawazu on the western coast of Izu Peninsula.
        Matagi Akita Tohoku Sustainable Living

        Tracking Akita’s Matagi Hunters

        Akita in the northern Tohoku region is home to the Matagi, hunters who follow an ancient and sustainable way of hunting, foraging and life.
        Washi Papermaking Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Following the Paper Trail in Kochi

        Discover the traditional art of washi papermaking in Kochi with artist Rogier Uitenboogaart.
        Kaiyu Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Snorkeling, Surfing and Sustainability in Koch...

        Enjoy the clear waters of Kochi by snorkeling and surfing while staying at a refurbished hotel committed to sustainability.
    • Food and Drinks
      • Churamura Okinawa Sea Turtle Marine Conservation

        Churamura: Footprints in the Sand

        Churamura, an NPO in Okinawa, work to conserve marine life and protect endangered sea turtles in Japan's southernmost prefecture.
        Kawazu

        Fall in Love with Kawazu

        Enjoy waterfall hikes and hot springs, beautiful beaches and delicious seafood in Kawazu on the western coast of Izu Peninsula.
        Matagi Akita Tohoku Sustainable Living

        Tracking Akita’s Matagi Hunters

        Akita in the northern Tohoku region is home to the Matagi, hunters who follow an ancient and sustainable way of hunting, foraging and life.
        Washi Papermaking Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Following the Paper Trail in Kochi

        Discover the traditional art of washi papermaking in Kochi with artist Rogier Uitenboogaart.
        Kaiyu Kochi Shikoku Outdoor Japan

        Snorkeling, Surfing and Sustainability in Koch...

        Enjoy the clear waters of Kochi by snorkeling and surfing while staying at a refurbished hotel committed to sustainability.
    • Races and Events
      • Yuji Hirayama Urban Base Camp

        Yuji Hirayama’s Urban Base Camp Opens in Shinj...

        One of Japan's top rock climbers Yuji Hirayama has opened Urban Base Camp, a new bouldering gym in the heart of Tokyo.
        Photo by Noriteru Ino

        2021 Summer Music Festivals in Japan

        Camp and listen to great music in the outdoors at these summer music festivals across Japan.
        Summer Events Fireworks Festivals in Japan

        2021 Fireworks Festivals in Japan

        Enjoy these fireworks festivals held throughout Japan this summer and autumn.
        Summer Festivals in Japan

        2021 Summer Festivals in Japan

        Enjoy these traditional matsuri festivals throughout Japan this summer.

Building the World’s Highest Hotel

Constructing a hotel at 3,880 meters is not an easy task. Back in the 1960s it was monumental. In 1968, entrepreneur Takashi Miyahara defied expectations and built the world’s highest hotel in the Himalayas. Driven by his passion for Nepal and mountaineering, he garnered support from the local Nepalese government to not only build Hotel Everest View but also make the Himalayas a sustainable tourist destination by providing jobs to locals living in the Himalayas. The construction of Hotel Everest View took several years and relied heavily on local Sherpa porters who carried food and supplies on a two-week trek from Lamusangu. 

Visitors from the world over headed to the hotel when it first opened its doors in 1971, with the 360 views of the Himalayan mountain range taking their breath away. The project was praised not only for the hotel providing stellar views of Mt. Everest and the surrounding Himalayas, but also how Miyahara’s team literally paved the trail for travelers of all ages to experience Mt. Everest. 

Miyahara passed away in November 2019 at the age of 84, leaving behind his stone-terraced hotel. Hotel Everest View was listed on the Guinness Book of World Records in 2004 as the highest hotel in the world. It has been surpassed since then, but remains a popular travel destination for those exploring the Khumbu Region. His daughter, Sonia Miyahara, is planning to celebrate the hotel’s 50th anniversary in 2021 with the English release of her father’s book, “Himalaya no Tomoshibi” (“The Ray of Light in the Himalayas”). Although the book was written in 1982, Miyahara was ahead of his time as he recognized the importance of sustainable tourism. The hotel was never massively profitable, but Miyahara’s reward was each time his teary-eyed guests thanked him for the opportunity to view Mt. Everest.

We caught up with Sonia on her recent trip to Tokyo at her father’s office where she was gathering old photos from the hotel construction. The 38-year-old takes after both parents, with her father’s twinkling eyes and laugh and her Nepali mother’s warm personality.

Rie Miyoshi: What was the secret to your father’s success working and pioneering tourism in the Khumbu Region of Nepal?

Sonia Miyahara: My dad was passionate about supporting Nepal’s tourism and economy, and the locals saw and respected that. Of course the hotel was a big part of it, but he wanted to create something more that would help Nepal. Rather than relying on foreign aid, he wanted to create jobs for the locals, especially the Sherpa community. 

He also had the support of his mountaineering friends in Japan. Some of them have passed away due to climbing accidents unfortunately. I believe my dad worked harder on the hotel to honor his friends. And whenever he had an idea, he would be on it immediately. Even when he was older, he would think of projects to work on. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn’t, but he always used to tell me he wanted to do something no one else had done before. 

RM: In his book, he talks a bit about growing up in Nagano. Did that influence him to start mountaineering? 

SM: His family owned—and still owns—a charming ryokan called Fujiya in Tazawa Onsen. It’s near Ueda in southern Nagano and surrounded by mountains. So you could say he had a background in hospitality. He also studied mechanical engineering which helped a lot with the hotel construction. In university, he joined a mountaineering club and later on, was chosen to go on research expeditions to Greenland and Antarctica. He enjoyed exploring Nepal and eventually quit his office job to work in the Nepal Ministry of Commerce and Supplies. 

RM: It must have been a logistical nightmare building a hotel in the Himalayas in the 60s.

SM: Yes, back then there were no access roads to Syangboche Ridge where the hotel sits. Namche Bazaar, which today is a gateway to trekking around Everest, was undeveloped with no accommodation. They had to get to Kolkata (formerly Calcutta) first to pick up supplies and construction tools brought in from Japan, then ensure that was transported safely to Kathmandu, then eventually up to Syangboche. Everything took time and patience. My dad was a child during World War II so he experienced some hardship, and I believe that led to strength of character. He was also a minimalist, and would try to fix anything that was broken.

RM: Your father brings up an interesting point about the Sherpa and Japanese people sharing some similarities. 

SM: Yes, they both are hospitable, respect and enjoy the outdoors and even look a bit similar, so perhaps that’s why Japanese hikers feel a sense of connection to the Sherpa. Of course the location is amazing, but the people definitely make the place and I think that’s why we get repeat visitors.

RM: Did your father ever climb Mt. Everest? 

SM: He actually tried to climb it at age 60. He was really close to the summit but got snow blindness in one eye and had to turn back. But he attempted it at 60 years old, which I think is a pretty great feat in itself. 

RM: What was he like as a father? 

SM: (laughs) You know, he was a typical Japanese dad in that he didn’t show much affection and would wave me off gruffly when I tried to hug or kiss him—but he was also very kind, created lots of opportunities for me and would say that everything he did “was for Sonia.” I remember evenings where we would be reading next to each other, him with his Japanese book and me with my English book. He spoke fluent Nepali with a slight accent, so that was what we spoke at home mixed in with some Japanese. 

He let me pick which school I wanted to go to and told me I should get overseas experience. So I studied economics in Boston and worked in Tokyo and Singapore. Unlike a lot of Nepali family businesses, he didn’t force me to come home and take on Hotel Everest View after him. He knew how hard it was to build a hotel, so he didn’t want me to have that burden. I think having that upbringing though made me want to move home and help out with our family business. 

My dad didn’t share too much with me about building the hotel or his past, so reading the book was an unexpected surprise. I didn’t even know he had that conversation with Sir Edmund Hillary.

RM: That chapter shared a lot about your dad’s personality. He didn’t back down when Sir Hillary disapproved his hotel project. It was two great men respectfully discussing preserving local culture and nature even though they had opposing views. 

SM: Yes, my dad had written down speaking notes to go over with Sir Hillary but ended up crumpling his notes up and throwing them in the fireplace! One of the things they talked about was making sure the area didn’t get commercialized. They both genuinely loved the Khumbu Region, environment and people. 

The hotel never became massively profitable, but my dad didn’t care. Sometimes I would joke that “It’s okay to make a little more money.” He just loved seeing people enjoy the mountains. He was also really caring about our guests; whenever we had guests with altitude sickness, he’d show concern and keep asking how they were doing.

RM: Do you think he missed living in Japan? 

SM: He definitely missed the food. He would always come back from his trips to Japan with suitcases filled with fish, natto (fermented soy beans) and negi (long onion). Even when he visited me in Boston, he brought these ingredients over. I wondered how he snuck those through customs. 

RM: How do people get to Hotel Everest View today?

SM: We run a travel agency so people can easily book the whole tour. First, fly from Kathmandu to Lukla, then trek four hours to Phakding Village. The next day, you would trek to Namche Bazaar, which takes seven hours. The following day, you’d reach Hotel Everest View. We normally recommend two nights there. The whole trip takes a minimum seven days and you have to go slowly to acclimate yourself to the altitude. We also have a chartered helicopter direct from Kathmandu. A helicopter shuttle is also available from Lukla in spring and autumn.

RM: What are your future plans for Hotel Everest View

SM: With the pandemic we’ve had no visitors and need to prepare for the following year. The hotel is currently closed but we’re hoping Nepal will open its travel borders next spring or autumn. We also run two travel agencies, Trans Himalayan Tour and Himalaya Kanko Kaihatsu. Until then we’re going to be working hard to survive.

For more information on Hotel Everest View, click here.
To learn more about getting to the Himalayas from Japan, click here.

Read More about Nepal on Outdoor Japan

Q&A with Peter Hillary
Hiking Hearth to Hearth
Race Report: Nepal’s Mustang Trail Race

Read More Stories from the Autumn 2020 Issue

Outdoor Japan logo tree

Related

Leave a reply

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Latest posts

Categories