Reflecting on the Legendary Mountaineer, Buntaro Kato

When you hear the name “Buntaro,” you might picture someone who loves mountains or literature. Born in 1905 in the town of Shimoyu, home to Feel Records, Buntaro Kato left an indelible mark on the world of mountaineering. Starting his solo climbs around 1928, he ventured into the mountains, including the Yatsugatake, Yarigatake, Tateyama, Hotakadake, Kurobegorodake, and Kasagatake, aiming for Himalayan climbs.

In those days, climbing was considered a sport for the wealthy, hiring guides and porters to ascend in large groups. Solo climbing was deemed unconventional. Nevertheless, Buntaro pursued his passion, astonishing society with solo winter ascents, earning him the nickname “Kato the Soloist” and leaving an immortal legacy in Japan’s mountaineering community.

However, tragedy struck in 1936 when he encountered a fierce blizzard on the Kamoshika Ridge of Yarigatake, leading to his untimely demise at the age of 31.

Source: Shinonsencyo

In 1969, Nitta Jiro’s novel “Kokou no Hito” (The Solitary Man) brought Buntaro’s life to wider recognition, not only among mountain enthusiasts but also literature lovers. The Utsuno Shrine, where Buntaro met his later partner, Hanako-san, as described in the novel, is just a 5-minute walk from Feel Records.

Source: Shinonsencyo

Moreover, the Buntaro Kato Memorial Library, a 12-minute walk from Feel Records, displays Buntaro’s climbing boots, ice axe, and houses a mountaineering library with over 5,000 books.

Source: The Tajima

Nowadays, “Buntaro” is synonymous with local sake. The northern part of Hyogo Prefecture, where Shimoyu is located, has produced one of Japan’s four major sake brewers, the “Tajima Toji.” With abundant snowfall making winter farming impractical, many locals have historically worked in the sake brewing industry. The careful, sincere, and perseverant nature of the Tajima people is evident in their sake brewing, which requires six months of dedication. Today, they continue to work as Toji in sake breweries not only in the Kinki region, including Fushimi, but also in Chugoku and Shikoku.

Source: Buntaro

Although the sake brewery disappeared from Shimoyu for a time, it was revived in 2019 under the name “Buntaro.” Combining the skills of the Tajima Toji with high-quality rice and pure water, “Buntaro” is a unique and exceptional sake.

At Feel Records, where local ingredients are cherished, “Buntaro” is offered as one of our drink options. Alongside dishes made with local ingredients, we invite you to savor “Buntaro” while reminiscing about Buntaro Kato.