TODAY marks what would have been Junko Tabei’s 80th birthday.
She was the first woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest in 1975 – here’s everything you need to know about the Japanese mountaineer and subject of today’s google doodle.
Who was Junko Tabei?
Junko Tabei was a Japanese mountaineer.
Born Ishibashi Junko in Fukushima, she came from a large family of seven siblings and began climbing mountains at the tender age of ten – despite her family’s concerns that she was a “frail” child.
Throughout her time at university she experienced sexism as she pursued her climbing career, she says male mountaineers refused to climb with her and accused her of only being interested in climbing to “find a husband”.
After graduating, Tabei formed the Ladies Climbing Club (LLC) – the first of its kind in Japan.
The slogan was: “Let’s go on an overseas expedition by ourselves.”
She spent the next ten years conquering Mount Fuji and the Matterhorn, her incredible feats earned her recognition in her native Japan.
Why is Google Doodle celebrating her 80th birthday?
Tabei is most well known for her incredible all-female expedition to the summit of Mount Everest.
In 1975, she rallied the LLC around her in a bid to find funding for their most daring expedition yet – Everest.
Tabei said: “Back in 1970s Japan, it was still widely considered that men were the ones to work outside and women would stay at home.
“Even women who had jobs – they were asked just to serve tea. So it was unthinkable for them to be promoted in their workplaces.”
The women were repeatedly rejected by potential sponsors, who thought it was inappropriate for women to leave their children at home with their husbands and head off on such a dangerous expedition.
The group managed to secure some last-minute funds from Japan’s biggest newspaper, Yomiuri Shimbun and also from television network, Nippon but each member also made a huge personal contribution – equivalent to Japan’s average yearly salary.
The female mountaineers also prepared their own equipment, due to the lack of expenses available to women climbers.
At the same time as they trained for the mammoth expedition, the women also sewed their own sleeping bags, recycled old car-parts into mountaineering kit and collected food donations.
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At 6,300 metres up the mountain, the group suffered a devastating blow when an avalanche buried them and their kit – with Tabei being knocked unconscious beneath the snow for a full six minutes.
However the group persevered, and Tabei was the first woman to reach the top – receiving worldwide recognition for the huge achievement.
In the years following, she also became the first woman to scale the Seven Summits and focused her efforts later in life into advancing the role of women in Japanese Society.
Tabei died in 2016.
Tabei gained worldwide notoriety for her mountaineering[/caption]
Tabei is being commemorated today, on what would have been her 80th birthday[/caption]
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