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Pera Pera Corner: English? German?

Hiking, backpacking, trekking, mountaineering, alpine climbing…there are many ways to climb a mountain and just as many ways to describe this popular activity. So what exactly are the differences? This is actually a tricky question and depends on whether you’re saying it in Japanese or English.

While there is no hard-and-fast rule, in Japanese, haikingu (ハイキング or 山歩き; hiking) is a term generally used to describe a day hike – a nice, leisurely stroll through the mountains. In English, however, the word “hike” actually represents a much wider variety of activities ranging from easy one-day trips to strenuous multi-day excursions.

Bakkupakkingu (バックパッキング; backpacking), in both languages, is a lengthy hike that involves at least one overnight stay, usually in a tent out in the back country. In Japanese, however, it also tends to conjour up images of a budget bakkupakka (バックパッカー; backpacker) wandering from youth hostel to youth hostel as opposed to wandering from mountain to mountain.

Another word that’s often heard is torekkingu (トレッキング; trekking). While in Japanese, this word seems to be used interchangeably with the word “backpacking,” in English, “trekking” is usually associated with a multi-day expedition-type journey across the mountains in countries such as Nepal and South America.

There is then, of course, tozan or yamanobori (登山、山登り; mountaineering) which involves climbing bigger and higher mountains and arupain kuraimingu 〔アルパイン・クライミング、山岳登ハン; alpine climbing〕 which is just darn right serious in terms of skills required, altitude and guts.

Regardless of which type of mountain activity you’ll be doing, it’ll also be useful to know a bit of mountain equipment terminology in Japanese, English and…German!

Many “Japanese” mountain gear words are actually from German. For example, ryukkusakku (リュックサック) or zakku 〔ザック〕. Both of these words mean “backpack” but come from German word “rucksack.” To confuse things further, the Japanese also say bakkupakku 〔バックパック〕.

Other German derived words include shurafu 〔シュラフ、寝袋; sleeping bag〕 which comes from the word “schlafsack,” tsueruto (ツェルト;emergency shelter/tarp) from the word “zeltsack,” aizen 〔アイゼン; crampon〕 from “steigeisen” and pikkeru (ピッケル; ice axe) which is from the German word “eispickel.”

While admiring your friend’s mountaineering equipment, you may want to comment on the quality of his gear by saying, for example, “Anatano motteiru pikkeru iidesune” (あなたの持っているピッケルいいですね).

If you say this in Japanese, you’ll get a thank you. However, in English, you’ll need to remember to replace the German with English because if you say, “Ooooh, I like your pickle,” you’ll most likely be greeted with a blank stare, a huge guffaw, or if taken in the wrong context, you could even find yourself in a real…well, pickle.

The German influence is strong, but there are also many words that come from the English outdoors. For example, torekkingu poru 〔トレッキングポール; trekking poles〕、sureepingu matto 〔スリーピングマット; sleeping mat〕、tento 〔テント; tent〕, tahpu (タープ; tarp)、、 bibahku (ビバーク; bivouac)、 sutoubu (ストーブ; stove)、 karabina (カラビナ; carabiner) and rohpu (ロープ; rope).

The word for headlamp, heddo rampu (ヘッドランプ) is also similar but you can abbreviate it by saying hetten (ヘッテン) for short.

Interestingly enough, there is also a word that sounds very German or English, but is actually a word that is really only used in Japan: rasseru (ラッセル). This word means “to trudge through unploughed snow and making a path” and is taken from the name of a company (Russell Company) that makes snowplows in the US.

Then of course, there are the pure and truly Japanese mountain words. Yamagoya 〔山小屋; mountain hut〕, koushou junnou 〔高所順応; acclimatization〕, kouzan byou (高山病; altitude sickness), teitai onshou (低体温症; hypothermia) and nadare (雪崩; avalanche) are just a few that may be good to know the higher up the mountain you go.

On top of the mountain, the names of chikei (地形; geological formations) that you’ll encounter are often in both English and Japanese. Oneh or rijji 〔尾根、リッジ; ridge〕, choujou or peeku (頂上、ピーク; peak), touge or pasu (峠、パス; pass), anbu or koru (鞍部、コル; col or saddle) and once you come down the mountain, there are keikoku (渓谷、沢; valleys) and kyoukoku (峡谷; canyons) as well.

Finally, a mountain word lesson wouldn’t be complete without some “water” words! In terms of running water, kawa (川; river) is the biggest, ogawa (小川; stream) is a smaller “kawa” and sawa (沢; creek) is even smaller. In terms of still water, mizuumi 〔湖; lake〕 represents a larger body of water, ikeh 〔池; pond〕 is a smaller lake, numa (沼; swamp) is basically a muddy pond and a mizutamari (水たまり) is just a little puddle.

German, English and Japanese – it can all be a bit confusing at first but, once you’ve gotten the key words down, you’ve climbed one step closer to conquering the mountain.


決まりではないが、日本語で言うハイキングはたいてい、のんびりした日帰りの山歩きや散歩のことを示す。しかし英語のhikingと言う言葉はもっと幅広い意味を持ち、簡単な日帰りの山歩きから何日間も歩き続ける登山まで全てhikingと言う。英語でもっと正確に伝えたい場合、日帰りのハイキングはday hike と言い、何日間の旅は multi-day hike または 2,3, 4-day hikeと言う。

日本語と英語でも backpacking (バックパッキング)とは、大きなザックを背負って山を歩き、バックカントリーにテントを張って1泊以上する「縦走」である。ただ日本では、山を歩くというより、バックパックを背負ってユースホステルを転々とするイメージもまだ強い。

他に、trekking (トレッキング)という言葉もよく聞く。英語ではネパールや南アメリカなどの山脈地帯を何日間、もしくは何週間もかけて辿る「冒険的」な旅のことをtrek 〔トレック〕というが日本語のトレッキングはバックパッキングと同じように使われることも多い。

高い山を登る、登山や山登り、つまりmountaineering、そして技術的にも高度の高さを考えるとguts(勇気)も必要となる本格的な「山登り」はalpine climbing (アルパイン・クライミング)という。


多くの日本語の山用語はもともとドイツ語からくる。例えば、リュックサックとかザックはドイツ語の”rucksack”という言葉である。(英語ではバックパックと言うが。) シュラフや寝袋は”schlasack”(英語ではsleeping bag)、ツェルトは“zeltsack” 〔emergency shelter/tarp〕, アイゼンは”steigeisen” (crampon)、そしてピッケルはドイツ語の“eispickel”(英語では ice axe)という。

もし友達の高価そうな登山道具を英語で褒めるなら、ドイツ語を英語に直すのを絶対に忘れないようにしましょう。”Ooooh, I like your Pickle”と言ってもまったく通じない上に、冷たく無視されるか、大笑いされるか、もしくは困ったことに、変人扱いされることもありうる。(因みに Pickleとはピクルス、きゅうりの洋風漬物のことである)。

日本語の山用語にはドイツ語の影響が大きいが、英語のアウトドア用語から用いられる言葉も沢山ある。例えば、trekking poles〔トレッキングポール〕、sleeping mat 〔スリーピングマット〕、tent 〔テント〕, tarp (タープ)、bivouac (ビバーク)、stove(ストーブ)、headlamp 〔ヘッドランプ、ヘッテン〕、carabiner (カラビナ)そしてrope (ロープ)。


もちろんカタカナを使わない、純正な日本語の山用語もある。例えば、mountain hut (山小屋)、acclimatization 〔高所順応〕, altitude sickness (高山病), hypothermia (低体温症) and avalanche(雪崩)など、高い山に行くほど知っておいた方がいい言葉がある。

山でよく見るgeological formations (地形)は日本語と英語、両方使う場合が多い。山の上にはridge (尾根、リッジ)、peak 〔頂上、ピーク〕、pass (峠、パス)、col or saddle (鞍部、コル)などがあり、山を下ってくるとvalleys 〔渓谷、沢〕やcanyons〔峡谷〕。

最後に山用語の英会話レッスンには「水用語」も少し!流れている水ではriver〔川〕が一番大きく、stream (小川)そしてcreek 〔沢〕は更に小規模。静水ではlake(湖)が一番広く、pond (池)、swamp (沼)、そしてpuddle 〔水たまり〕と段々小さくなっていく。

ドイツ語、英語そして日本語。確かに混乱してしまいそうだが、ちょっと頑張って覚えてしまえば、no problem、大きな山でも問題なく越えられるでしょう!

How do you say that in…


登山、山登り / Mountaineering, mountain climbing
リュックサック、ざっく、バックパック / Backpack
シュラフ、寝袋 / Sleeping bag
ツェルト / Emergency shelter/tarp
アイゼン / Crampon
ピッケル / Ice Axe
ビバーク / Bivouac
ヘッドランプ、ヘッテン / Headlamp
山小屋 / Mountain hut
高所順応 / Acclimatization
高山病 / Altitude sickness
低体温症 / Hypothermia
雪崩 / Avalanche
地形 / Geological formation
尾根 / Ridge
頂上 / Peak
峠、パス / Pass
鞍部、コル / Col, saddle
渓谷、沢 / Valley
峡谷 / Canyon

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