December 10, 2005
Mt. Futago, Kanagawa


Taking advantage of the beautiful clear day, Tod & I hiked up to the top of Mt. Futago to scatter some of his Uncle Bernie’s ashes. We visited it once before* about five and a half years ago to scatter his Aunt Sally. I feel good knowing that now they are together enjoying the view of Yokohama and Tokyo.

Mother Nature has been at work since our last visit, making it difficult to follow the course outlined in Gary D’A . Walters’ Day Walks Near Tokyo. A typhoon blew through last year, downing massive trees all along the trail. We navigated over and under them to make our way through but some side trails seem to have vanished and signage is missing. The remaining signs have been helpfully annotated in marker by other hikers, though, so it’s not as bad as it might have been.

At the advice of a local man we met near the trailhead, we did not take the route from the top of the mountain to Taura, as the book suggests, because the man said it was badly degraded from the storm. We walked through to Higashi-Zushi instead, which turned out to be shorter and easier than I remember the other way being. At least this time, we didn’t get lost.

*I made a video that day—May 4, 2000—including the part where we got lost. You can view it here: 31 (98 MB Quicktime) duration 6’03”

Posted by kuri at December 10, 2005 07:53 PM


When did Uncle Bernie die?

Posted by: Fran on December 11, 2005 06:15 AM

Bernie died in early June this year. He was in poor heath from transplant complications, but checked himself out of the hospital to go do his summer arts shows. He had a heart attack while attending an event in in Cinncinati, was taken to a local hospital, and passed away there.

Here’s the obituary that Maureen wrote; it’s so fitting:

Bernard “Bernie” Zimetbaum

Age 58, of Youngwood, on Monday June 6, 2005. Beloved husband for 22 years of the late Sally (Buchanan) Zimetbaum, he is survived by his daughters, Goldyn Zimetbaum of Honolulu, HI and Amanda (Miller) Smartnick of Ruffsdale, PA; son-in law Eric Smartnick; granddaughters Mallorie and Mercedes Smartnick; three cats Macy, Sheldon and Adia, and favorite dog Miles. He was a wonderful father and grandfather and was a friend to many and all.

Bernie was a sweet, honest and extremely easygoing individual with a lively and colorful soul, a warm heart and an unpredictable spirit. He was an avid collector and lover of music which always filled his home and his vehicles. He enjoyed his time traveling to art shows as the long time owner and original artisan of Mt. Airy Leathers. He was a member of the Central Westmoreland Chamber of Commerce and was active in the organ transplant community as a recipient, himself, of two organ transplants. He was a kind and selfless man who will be sadly missed by all of his family and friends. He truly embraced a lifestyle “on the edge” until his last day.

Posted by: Kristen on December 11, 2005 07:39 AM

What a beautifully written obituary.

Posted by: Jennifer on December 11, 2005 11:46 PM

This is for Kuri. I’m the owner and managing editor of The Foreigner-Japan, an online magazine devoted to all things Japanese.

I would very much like to have an article written by you about your aunt and uncle who’s ashes are scattered on Mt. Futago, and the journey by yourself and Tod to the top of that mountain. I think it would make an excellent human interest story, because I can sense there is a larger story behind this. Why were their ashes scattered on the mountain?

Perhaps I am asking something you might feel uncomfortable doing, but I feel compelled to ask for an article (non-fiction piece) about this.

You can reach me at my email (, just in case it’s not visible otherwise), and also view our magazine at I hope to hear from you soon.

Posted by: Matt Goerzen on December 23, 2005 09:17 AM

I am saddend to hear that the man who crafted thelovely leather pouch that has gone with me on several trips has died. Is any one picking up his craft and is there any chance that some of the stock is left. I am looking for a large size (9 1/2 inch by 8 inch black pouch. If you can help me I would appreciate it very much.
Kathy McNally

Posted by: Katherine McNally on January 20, 2006 03:22 AM

Oh God, I’m so sorry. I kept looking for Bernie at the craft show as I loved his bags and thought he was so kind and fun to deal with.

I’m saddened by his death and wish to send my sincere condolences. I will and have cherish the bags I’ve purchased from him.


Posted by: Christine on January 22, 2006 01:30 AM
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