Whenever I move to a new country, area or city, I quickly establish customs and traditions . . . and favorites. Then I return or revisit these each year I continue to live in that place. Hiking to the summit of Takigo-yama was my favorite hike to do in Japan. In fact, I did it 7 times. It offers spectacular views of Mt. Fuji on clear days, which were the majority when I summited it. My third time hiking it was with Aya and a group of others. At that time I had no idea that by the time I summited it for my 7th, and last time, it would be with Aya again, but this time with her as my wife.
It was also the first time to summit Takigo-yama with a DSLR. I even took my very heavy Nikkor AF ED 80-200mm F2.8D lens with me. When we reached the summit and Mt. Fuji was shrouded in clouds, I was very disappointed because I knew I'd never get to see my favorite view in all of Japan again, and also that I broke my back for no reason.
However, then I spotted this little fellow, an alpine accentor, on a perch on the summit. I quickly put on the 80-200mm lens and was able to make the above photograph. Just that single image made it all worth it and on the descent I thought how glad I was to have brought that heavy lens!
This photograph is also basically my only wildlife photograph of Japan. The gray background is from the mist shrouding the summit and blocking Fuji from view.